Lansing boys aim for first victory against Jags
In addition to superior talent, Mill Valley's boys basketball team has carried with it a certain intimidation factor in recent years.
Not only were the Jaguars one of the Kaw Valley League's perennial powers, but they also made a name for themselves on the state scene. In fact, they went 22-3 last year and placed fourth at the Class 5A tournament.
The 2006-2007 season has been a year of transition at Mill Valley, however. The same can be said for Lansing High. The Jaguars lost the bulk of their offense from last year's state team, and their 1-3 record (1-2 KVL) serves as evidence of that. In similar fashion, Lansing lost all five of its varsity starters and owns a 0-5 record.
Both teams will try to smooth their course at 7:30 p.m. Friday when LHS travels to Mill Valley. It will be the first game back from winter break for both teams.
After an 86-44 loss to No. 3-ranked Bishop Miege to open the season, Lansing has been in its last few games and was close in the fourth quarter against league foes Bonner Springs, Basehor-Linwood and Tonganoxie. Bonner and Basehor both beat Mill Valley this season.
First-year LHS coach Rod Briggs said he is hoping his team will shake its skid on Friday. The key will be to maintain focus at all times and avoid three- or four-minute scoring droughts.
"I think we've just got to learn to win," Briggs said. "This summer when we played some tournaments in summer league we didn't win many games until the last tournament when we finally won a couple. That kind of built some confidence. Once you start winning it becomes more of a habit, but we're just looking at little things right now, and by just improving every game and getting better the wins will come."
Briggs said he and assistant coach Ben Doll modified the offense a bit during break. They decided to simplify the offense so players can do more and think less.
"By simplifying the offense we've freed their mind to be a little more creative and not have so many things on their mind so they can just play a little bit and become more comfortable," Briggs said. "I'm expecting to see us become a lot more efficient and get the ball inside to our post players. Since we have a lot of them I expect us to get a lot better at getting the ball into the post and scoring in there. I think you'll see turnovers cut down too."
Injuries played a part in the change. Sophomore Peter Gibson is out for about two weeks with a hip injury and senior J.T. Collins has a nagging hand injury after dislocating a finger against Tonganoxie. Both players are guards, and Briggs said he is expects to see junior Chris Hill fill the void by playing extra minutes.
"He gives probably the most effort out of everybody day in and day out, and he's getting a lot more comfortable handing the ball, too," Briggs said of Hill. "I think he'll be one that we'll see improve a lot over the course of the second half of the season."
After Friday's game at Mill Valley, Lansing will play Santa Fe Trail at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Carbondale.