IR’s hardwood hopes rest with young, inexperienced roster
With a roster that features a slew of youth and inexperience, coupled with a first-time head coach, the Indian River High School boys’ basketball team will need to learn to crawl before they can run during the early parts of their 2019-2020 campaign.
Head coach Devin Mann, in his first go-round as a floor general on the varsity level, will have to rely on three key returning members of the program to help the growth process for the Indians. Junior Willem Lambertson, along with sophomores Malachi Waters and Matthew Engle, will be those players with significant experience back for the Green & Gold.
Those three will look to replace the graduation loss of Antonio Jones, as well as career 1,000-point scorer Jamier Felton, among five total seniors who also graduated.
“Losing a 1,000-point scorer and leader in Jamier Felton, along with a senior class that all played multiple varsity seasons together, we have some big holes to fill on the scoring and experience side of things,” Mann said of his prospects for this year. “The roster will be young, but they will all get a chance to prove themselves as we make a push to compete this year on a nightly basis and look forward to returning a very experienced and hungry group for next year.”
Last year, the Indians finished the season 8-12 overall after starting the year at 3-0, which included winning the Tip-Off Classic and a win over Laurel. They then went on a five-game losing streak, leading to a 1-9 record over their next 10 games.
This year, IR will look to newcomers Gage Spinks and Ja’siah Rounds — both juniors — to help turn the program around.
Mann is hopeful that his team’s inexperience and youth will grow quickly for this year, but also for the future of the program.
“With a young and overall inexperienced varsity roster, on top of a new system and coaching staff all coming together at once, we are looking to first learn, build chemistry and settle into the speed of the varsity game,” added Mann. “Our aim is to win our bracket at the Governor’s Challenge tournament, and then come out of the Christmas break ready to be competitive in the South and gain experience for the future.”
The Indians were set to take part in one final scrimmage on Tuesday, Nov. 26, at James M. Bennett High School in Berlin, Md., (after Coastal Point press time) before opening their season also on the road against Woodbridge on Wednesday, Dec. 4. They will not play a home game until Tuesday, Jan. 7, when they host Early College High School at 5:30 p.m.
By Jason Feather