CINCINNATI — The Lakota East boys basketball team is 4-0 for the first time since the 2012-13 season.
With a strong defensive effort, Thunderhawks coach Clint Adkins likes the team’s direction entering mid-December.
Lakota East is also hopeful to have senior 6-foot-3-inch guard Kaden Fuhrmann back from a hip injury next week. Fuhrmann is expected to be one of the team’s top scorers this winter.
Junior guard Nate Johnson scored 16 points and had seven steals, five assists and three rebounds in Lakota East’s 44-40 win over visiting Mason Tuesday night.
“Nate Johnson has been phenomenal,” Adkins said.
Johnson averages 26.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 3.0 steals. Johnson, who has scholarship offers that include Kent State, Ohio University, Miami University and Youngstown State, is shooting 67.3 percent from the field (37 of 55).
“He’s playing great,” Adkins said. “He’s just grown up as a basketball player. He’s been real special these first four games.”
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Adkins said Johnson has emerged from a facilitator role last season to playing with the most confidence he’s ever had in high school in the motion offense.
A slasher who can finish at the rim, Johnson has really developed his outside game after he didn’t make a 3-pointer (0-for-7) last season. Johnson is very effective at shooting off the dribble.
“His mid-range is really special,” Adkins said. “It’s very high level.”
The Thunderhawks, who have defeated Taft, St. Xavier, Mason and Princeton, have also received significant contributions from senior guard Trevor Howard, who has a 7.3 ppg. avergae.
“He plays so hard,” Adkins said. “He’s knocked down some big shots for us. He just gives us so much energy defensively and really competes hard.”
Seniors Alex Mangold (7.0 ppg., 4.5 rpg.), Jared McCorkle (6.0 ppg.) and sophomore Kobe Peck (6.0 ppg.) are among others who’ve stepped up.
“Honestly, it’s been a really good team effort,” Adkins said.
Lakota East (4-0, 2-0 GMC) plays host to Colerain (0-2, 0-2) Friday night.
Mason (1-3, 0-2 GMC) was led Tuesday night by senior forward Mitchell Greer who scored 21 points. Mason plays at Sycamore (1-2, 1-1) Friday night.
Sycamore defeated visiting Hamilton 58-49 in overtime Tuesday night. The Aviators outscored the Big Blue 12-3 in the extra session.
Lakota West continues to make strides early this season as the Firebirds defeated visiting Princeton 81-76 Tuesday night.
“I’m just so happy our kids because our confidence is building,” Lakota West coach Jim Leon said Wednesday morning.
Lakota West senior 6-foot-3-inch guard Julian Mackey had a season-high 27 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks to lead the Firebirds. Senior 6-foot-2-inch guard Carter Combs added a season-high 19 points and three rebounds.
“Julian and Carter stepped up big and made big shots,” Leon said. “Just an overall team effort.”
Mackey, who averages 24.7 points and 5.3 rebounds, returned to Lakota West last school year after his family had moved to the Atlanta area the summer after his sophomore year. While Mackey wasn’t eligible last season, he didn’t miss a practice, Leon said.
“I was so impressed with his maturity,” Leon said. “I thought this kid could be something special.”
Mackey plays on the perimeter and attacks well off the dribble and can score in the post. Leon believes Mackey isn’t finished growing yet.
“He is a leader,” Leon said. “He shows great leadership on the floor. I am so impressed with his personality.”
Leon stopped short of comparing Mackey to former Woodward 6-foot-5-inch standout and McDonald’s All-American Damon Flint, but he did say the skill level is reminiscent because Mackey is capable of doing a little bit of everything on the court.
“Some [college program] is going to get a steal,” Leon said. “He’s a real sleeper.”
Leon, a veteran high school area head basketball coach, is in his second season leading the Firebirds. Leon admits the Firebirds were “embarrassed” when Princeton defeated visiting Lakota West 70-36 in January – a game in which he was tossed. Tuesday night was certainly different.
“I just felt like we played well as a team and we played well together,” Mackey said. “We controlled the tempo of the game and never let the other team speed us up too much.”
The Firebirds (2-1, 2-0 GMC) play host to Middletown (1-2, 0-2) Friday night.
Princeton (1-2, 0-2 GMC) was led Tuesday night by senior guard Kahlil Davis who had a season-high 23 points to go along with four rebounds and two assists. He was 4-of-8 from beyond the 3-point arc. Senior guard Deairius Randle had 15 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Princeton plays at Hamilton (2-1, 1-1) Friday night.
Turpin (5-0), Lakota East (4-0), Cincinnati Country Day (4-0), Deer Park (4-0), La Salle (3-0), Mount Healthy (3-0), Aiken (3-0), Blanchester (3-0), Western Hills (3-0), Clermont Northeastern (3-0), Harrison (2-0), Hughes (2-0), New Richmond (2-0), Wyoming (1-0) were among the undefeated Ohio area boys basketball teams as of Wednesday morning.
This and that
- Mount Healthy sophomore guard Kollin Tolbert scored 21 points and had 10 rebounds, four assists and four steals in a 69-43 win at Talawanda Tuesday night. Mount Healthy (3-0, 1-0 Southwest Ohio Conference) plays at Little Miami (0-4, 0-1) Friday night.
- Deer Park had four players in double figures Tuesday night in a 67-50 win over visiting Taylor. Deer Park was led by senior point guard Steven Gentry Jr. who had 19 points, eight rebounds, five assists, five steals and a block. Junior Ani Elliott had 15 points and 12 rebounds. Junior Tre Munson scored 11 points while senior DeShaun McEntire added 11. Taylor sophomore Danny Austing had 30 points.
- Wyoming junior guard Isaiah Walker scored 25 points and had nine rebounds, two assists and two steals in the Cowboys’ 71-63 opening win at Mariemont Tuesday night. Junior guard Damien Crayton added 24 points, seven assists, four rebounds and four steals for Wyoming (1-0).
- Walnut Hills senior 6-6 forward Nic Smith scored 23 points on 7-of-11 shooting and 8-of-9 from the free-throw line in a 58-50 win at Anderson Tuesday night. Walnut Hills (3-1, 1-1 Eastern Cincinnati Conference) plays host to Loveland (2-1, 2-0 ECC) Friday night.
- Loveland senior forward Ian Cox (23 points) and senior guard Brenton Foust (22 points) combined for 45 of the Tigers’ 66 points Tuesday night in a 20-point win over host Kings.
- Senior guard Avery Wilson scored 14 points to go along with six rebounds and two assists in St. Xavier's 74-34 win over host Western Brown. Wilson made four 3-pointers. St. X (3-2) has won three consecutive games.
The Greater Miami Conference has mostly moved to 7:15 p.m. starting times for high school varsity basketball games during the week this winter, according to GMC commissioner Steve Shuck.
In previous years, the normal start time for boys and girls GMC varsity games during the week was mostly 7:30 p.m.
“The ADs did not like having to hold up starts when the two preliminary games were over too early,” Shuck said in an email. "Always better to be a little late. Can't start games before the announced time."
The boys and girls junior varsity games mostly start at 5:45 p.m. during the week.
GMC boys basketball teams mostly play Tuesday and Friday (both 7:15 p.m. for varsity) in the league with an occasional Saturday non-conference game.
The girls varsity teams normally play at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday and 1:45 p.m. Saturday. JV girls games mostly start at 12:15 p.m. Saturday.