JV boys played hard, posted 15-1 record
That has been first-year Lansing High junior varsity boys basketball coach Ben Doll's mantra all season.
Doll's players bought into that philosophy, too, and they have a 15-1 record to show for it.
Lansing ended its season Thursday, Feb. 22, with a 44-18 shellacking of Bonner Springs.
"People have been saying that this is one of the best records that any Lansing team has ever had," Doll said. "'I told the guys after the game, 'You know, you need to take pride in that.' Sometimes JV gets shortchanged, and they need to definitely take pride in what they accomplished.
"Especially with getting revenge on the only loss. It's almost like a perfect season."
Lansing's only loss came Jan. 5 with a 55-42 setback at Mill Valley. The Lions won their final 13 games after that, including a 43-39 win against the Jaguars on Feb. 16.
What made the junior varsity Lions' record even more impressive was the fact that they did it while playing guys out of position for most of the season. They didn't have a true point guard, so freshmen Brian Beall and Richie O'Donnell handled those duties most of the season. Even junior Elias Moya served duty as a guard despite being a traditional forward.
""We had a lot of players who we asked to play out of position almost all the time," Doll said. "But they did everything I ever asked them to do. No matter what position I put them out on the floor, they went out and did the best they could."
With guys constantly out of position, the offense struggled to find a steady rhythm. Therefore, defense was what made the Lions tick. With the exception of the game they lost, they never allowed an opponent to score more than 44 points in a game all season. Two opponents never reached the 20-point mark.
"Defensively, that was the way we won a lot of games," Doll said. "Even tonight, 44-18, we hit some shots and stuff and we ran the offense OK, but we played hands-down, knockdown defense. It didn't matter if we'd only scored 25 points, we'd have still won the game."
Doll said he was excited that he got to work with a handful of freshmen throughout the season - rookies Beall, O'Donnell, Kenneth Ritchie, Clay Pitsenbarger, Ben Kozak and Travon Hunt all saw at least a little JV action.
"It was nice that because of our numbers we had the freedom to do that," Doll said.
Sophomores Cody Rush, Ryan Delich and Bucky Zimmerman and juniors Kevin Johnson, Bobby Hauver, Chris Hill, Will Johnson, Stephen Didde, P.J. Sigle and Moya played a bulk of the JV minutes. Of the veterans, Doll said Moya filled the leadership role most consistently.
"He's probably the one I'm most pleased with just because I had to rely on him to do some things that he normally wouldn't be doing," Doll said. "He's not a guard, and yet I had him handling the ball at times. And he's not a shooter, and he knows that, but he was forced into that position.
"He is the catcher on the baseball team, and the leadership he learned on this JV team is hopefully going to carry into baseball season for him."