West Lincoln’s size will be advantage
West Lincoln began the basketball season with games against Lawrence County and Wesson, and host their next opponent, Bogue Chitto, Thursday beginning at 6 p.m., before taking their game on the road next week to Franklin County.
West Lincoln finished the 2015-16 season with a 19-11 record as Division 7-2A runner-up, making it to South State.
Head coach Lane Young is in his 15th year coaching for the Bears, with an overall record of 293-122. Brooks Smith is the assistant.
The Bears return starters 6-foot-4 junior Adam Martinez at guard and 6-foot-3 junior Donterrious Taylor at forward. Junior 5-foot-9 guard Le’darrius Jones and sophomore 5-foot-8 guard Garrison Coffey also return.
West Lincoln lost three starters. Ronnie Edwards is now at Copiah-Lincoln Community College, Ke-Shaun London is now at Southern Union State Community College, and Dominique Chism moved to Illinois.
Size is something Young hopes will be an advantage.
“Our guard play should be pretty good this year,” said Young. “Adam [Martinez] and Donterrius [Taylor] have some size we think will cause some problems defensively for opposing teams.”
Seven newcomers have been added to the Bears roster. In addition to 6-foot-3 junior center Chase Owen, six freshman players came aboard: two 5-foot-10 forwards in Michael Brothern and Travis Hall; three guards, 6-foot-0 Karlton Byrd, 5-foot-7 Anthony Hughes and 5-foot-3 Jacob Lofton; and one center in 6-foot-2 Keshon Byrd.
“We have a good group of juniors who are leading us this year,” Young said. “Our younger players will have to really step up and play to give us chances to win each night. I like the mix of guys we have who want to represent West Lincoln basketball.”
“Chase Owen will be an important part of our team [at center],” said Young, “and we look forward to seeing him compete for us this year.”
Young said the teams to beat this year are Amite County, Bassfield, Prentiss and Loyd Star, with possibly the best player in the district being Dwayne Pendleton at Enterprise.
“The division race will be closely contested and each game will be a battle,” said Young.
Lady Bears counting on young athletes to step up
The West Lincoln Lady Bears played their first game against Lawrence County Nov. 3, and follow up with the next face-off at Franklin County on Nov. 15 at 5 p.m.
The Lady Bears ended the 2015-16 season with a 16-13 record in Division 7-2A (third place).
Young also serves as coach of the Lady Bears, with a 231-177 overall record coaching girls teams. Brooks Smith is the assistant.
The Lady Bears have one returning starter, 5-foot-7 senior forward Demesha Deer. Four starters will not be returning: Alli Mullins, Layton Sills, Hanna Moak and Jana Case, who transferred to Brookhaven Academy.
The Lady Bears have 10 additional returning players, all sophomores. These are centers Keyahna Byrd (5-foot-10) and Brenn Bateman (5-foot-9), four guards – 5-foot-11 Megan Gerald, 5-foot-7 Skylar Hall, 5-foot-3 Haley Moak, and 5-foot-3 Makayla Shelton – and four forwards: 5-foot-10 Katelyn Dickerson, 5-foot-7 Morgan Newman, 5-foot-6 Elizabeth Stogner and 5-foot-6 Mattie Floyd.
West Lincoln has also added three freshman newcomers in center Paige Shedd, forward Bailey Wilson and forward Gracee Warren.
“We are still young, with only two seniors and no juniors,” said Young, “but our younger players will have to step up and compete for us to be successful this year.”
The focus is to improve across the board, across the floor. “The girls are working hard every day to improve and are pushing each other,” Young said. “We will play multiple players in multiple positions this year and I look forward to seeing them improve.”
Young sees their strongest competitors in Loyd Star, Enterprise, Amite County and Bassfield, though noted, “The division race will be closely contested each game.”
11/10, 6 vs. Bogue Chitto
11/15, 6 @ Franklin County
11/17, 6 @ Brookhaven
11/29, 6 @ Bogue Chitto
12/1, 6 vs. Salem
12/6, 6 vs. Puckett
12/8, 7 @ Loyd Star (LS tourney)
12/9, 4 vs. BC (LS tourney)
12/10, 1:30 vs. Ent. (LS tourney)
12/13, 5 vs. Franklin County
12/16, 6 @ Wesson
1/3, 5 vs. Bassfield
1/6, 5 vs. Loyd Star
1/10, 5 vs. Prentiss
1/13, 6 @ Amite County
1/17, 6 @ Enterprise
1/20, 6 @ Salem
1/24, 6 @ Loyd Star
1/27, 6 @ Prentiss
1/31, 5 vs. Amite County
2/3, 6 vs. Enterprise
2/7, 6 @ Bassfield
LADY BEARS’ SCHEDULE
11/15, 5 @ Franklin County
12/16, 4 @ Wesson
1/13, 5 @ Amite County
1/17, 4 @ Enterprise
1/24, 5 @ Loyd Star
1/27, 5 @ Prentiss
2/3, 4 vs. Enterprise
2/7, 5 @ Bassfield