Coach Matt Carson and the Lynchburg-Clay Mustangs boys basketball team are hoping to improve their game this year, despite graduating nine players who each made contributions to the Mustangs’ run to the state tournament.
“My expectations going into the season are that the team gets better both as individual players and collectively as a group every day,” Carson told The Times-Gazette. “We always want to be progressing and moving forward.”
Carson said the biggest difference between this year’s team and last year’s is experience.
“We graduated nine from last year’s group, and all contributed in some way to the success that we had,” he said. “We have a lot of new faces this season, and a lot of them have not logged in a whole lot of varsity minutes.
“We are learning on the fly right now, but as they play more and get more acclimated to the speed of the varsity game, we will adjust and be better for it as the year goes on,” Carson said.
Despite inexperience across the board, the team is not without its own strengths.
“A strength this team has is post play and outside shooting,” Carson said. “We have multiple guys that can shoot and we have a strong inside game. If we can utilize both in our offense, we should be very efficient on that end.”
Carson said his top returning starters are Eric McLaughlin and Joe Giordano. Both received all-conference and all-district honors last season, and Carson said he expects them to lead the team this year.
Seniors Brian Lampkin, AJ Stroop and Michael Heindel also return this year after gaining valuable experience during the Mustangs’ tournament run last year.
Carson said Lynchburg-Clay has a successful jayvee team that won a lot of games last season, and that some of those players are battling for playing time. Until then, the team has work to do.
“One thing we are trying to improve is our attention to detail,” Carson told The Times-Gazette. “We are getting much better at it, and I feel we will see the dividends of that goal here soon.”
Another goal the Mustangs have set is leaving their mark on the Lynchburg-Clay basketball program.
“They’re getting better every day,” Carson said, “and I have no doubt that they will accomplish this.”
Carson said the team is up for the challenge.
“The league will be tough this year, but we know we will get everyone’s best shot on a nightly basis,” Carson said. “If we play hard, play smart and communicate with our teammates, we will have the chance for another successful season.”
And, Carson said, the ‘Stangs are just itching to get going.
“All the guys are eager to get the season started and we are preparing to have the best year we possibly can,” Carson said.
David Wright is the sports editor for The Times-Gazette. He can be reached at 937-402-2570.