Raiders to play iron-man basketball
November 7, 2000
TO THE HOOP
The Lamar Raiders will open the season tonight at Hillcrest Christian before returning home Friday for the home opener against Central Academy.
Star file photo.
If nothing else, the Lamar High School boys basketball team should be in good shape when the 2000-2001 season comes to a close.
The Raiders, who finished 20-13 last season in coach Todd Yates' first season at the helm, go into the season with just eight players.
"Depth will definitely be a problem, but we have some pretty good front-line players," Yates said.
Half of the players on the team are seniors and all four of those started at least 11 games last season.
"So it's not like they don't know what it is like to be in a pressure situation," Yates said. "They have all played in key games at key times."
The main problem is that three of those four seniors were mostly role players last year. Dusty Jones was the three-point specialist, while Ryan Satcher came in as a defender and Sam Eakes was sent into the game to bang the boards.
"They are going to have to have more balanced games this year," he said. "Some other folks are going to have to step up and score."
The returning leader on the floor will be 6-foot-2 senior center Jared McKee. He has been starting since his sophomore season and finished last year averaging 8.4 points and 7.9 rebounds a game.
"He will be one of the guys we are looking to do a lot of things for us offensively," Yates said of McKee, who made all-conference as a junior. "His strength is getting the ball and taking it to the basket. He posts up well and has a lot of game experience."
Also helping out on the inside will be Eakes, who at 6-foot-2 is a tremendous leaper.
"We really need Sam to work on his inside game and score some points for us close to the basket," Yates said. "We will also be counting on him for some strong interior defense."
Eakes averaged 5.1 rebounds a game last season and was second on the team in total rebounds with 168 to McKee's 237.
Yates is hoping that Jones can continue the hot outside shooting that he began at mid-season last year. He had several big scoring games for the Raiders as a junior and won the three-point shooting contest at the Millsaps basketball camp this summer.
"He is what you call a pure shooter," Yates said of Jones, who averaged 5.4 points a game last year, while hitting 35.6 percent from three-point range.
Yates said Jones, at 6-foot-4, has also improved other aspects of his game and would be able to post up smaller players at times.
"He has really learned to use his size better, especially on defense and in rebounding," he said.
The second-year coach said rebounding would likely be a strength for his team.
"We will be bigger than most teams we face and will have four guys 6-foot-2 or taller on the floor most of the time," he said. "That will cause a lot of the teams we play some match-up problems."
Satcher (6-2), will start at a wing, but at times will play all five positions on the floor, while guarding the opposition's best perimeter player.
"A guy like Ryan may start the game guarding the two-guard, switch off to the post player and end up guarding the point guard," Yates said. "The one thing that we do have is some players with a lot of versatility."
He said Jones and Eakes could also guard both inside and outside players.
The point guard chores will be shared by a pair of juniors Justin Brewer and Cooper Huff. Brewer has the most experience of the two, playing in 29 games last season, but Yates said both guys will get plenty of time.
"Things are really dead even between those two," he said. "They are really very similar players. They are both very aggressive and are good defensive players and are about the same size."
Satcher, who is the leading returning assist man with 47, will also see limited action at the point.
Providing some depth will be junior swing man Justin Mitchell and sophomore guard Quinton Brown.
The Raiders open the season against Hillcrest, the No. 1 ranked Academy team in the state according to The Clarion-Ledger, on the road tonight. Later in the season the Raiders also play Madison-Ridgeland, the No. 3-ranked team in the state. The first home game for LHS will be Friday when Central Academy of Macon pays a visit.
Austin Bishop is a sports correspondent for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.