GREEN TWP. — Jim Leon has brought optimism to Lakota West High School’s boys basketball program this season. He’s also preaching patience.
The Firebirds are off to a modest 2-3 start after Tuesday night’s 46-36 loss at La Salle, but they were a less-than-modest 11-35 over the last two seasons.
“The ultimate goal is to be the best team we can be in February, and we’re getting better,” Leon said. “You might not see it tonight, but we go hard in practice every day. They’re great kids, great attitudes. There’s no issues going on. They all like each other.
BOYS BASKETBALL COVERAGE
“I think in the past in this progam there was a little bit of jealousy and backbiting, and it just wasn’t real kosher. Hopefully things are better now, but it’s a day-to-day process.”
Osean Anuforo is one of four sophomores playing for West. He had totaled seven points this season before scoring a team-high 10 against La Salle.
Fellow sophomores Kelvin Turner (seven points) and Brady Weber (six points, six boards) were next among the Firebirds’ scorers. Senior Matt DeSalvo added five points and seven rebounds.
“I’m walking out of here tonight feeling good,” Anuforo said. “Everything’s positive. Everybody’s taking it well so far. There’s been some bumps in the road, but it’s all part of the process. We’re going to get everything straight with our coaches.”
West only had the lead once (7-6) against the Lancers, yet the visitors were still within 37-33 in the last three minutes.
The Firebirds showed plenty of scrap, but not enough offensive efficiency. They shot 33.3 percent from the field and committed 18 turnovers.
“Defensively, I would say we were good. The game plan was good. We played zone and held them to 46 points on their home floor,” Leon said. “We’re pretty happy about that, but we’re struggling on the offensive end. We’re just not making shots, and I’ve got some kids who can make shots.
“The other problem I’m having is we’ve got so many guys of similar ability that we’re trying to find the right chemistry, the combo of guys you want on the floor. Our sophomores are getting valuable minutes of game time, but we’re not real big, so we don’t rebound great. We have to shoot the ball better.”
La Salle evened its record at 3-3 and got double-digit scoring from Jaylen Lemons (14), Nolan Enzweiler (13) and Jeffrey Queen (10).
Enzweiler was the headliner on this night. The senior forward had six points through the first five games, but erupted for 11 points in the third quarter Tuesday. He also grabbed eight rebounds.
“I’m proud of him,” Lancers coach Pat Goedde said. “He’s been in the gym, he’s a workaholic, and hard work pays off. It was really special to see a kid like that play so well. That’s La Salle basketball.
“He’s a glue guy. He’ll do anything for us to win … anything. He’s going to play more and some other guys are going to have to sit out. That’s the way it goes. That’s the way we’ve been here since I played.”
La Salle ended a two-game losing streak, despite playing without Michael Wergers and Cole Hildebrand, who are injured. Wergers is the squad’s top rebounder.
Goedde hopes to be back at full strength when the Lancers return to action at home against Centerville on Dec. 28.
“We won, so it’s great. We needed to get back to our winning ways,” Goedde said. “Some of the guys we’ve been counting on have been hitting a little lull. If we’re healthy, I think we’re a pretty good high school team. If we’ve got to keep going through injuries and finding guys every night, it’s going to be hard.”
Goedde is essentially a lifetime Lancer, a 1991 graduate who played for Dan Fleming as a senior. He then spent the next 26 seasons on Fleming’s staff.
This is Goedde’s second year as head coach.
“This is cool to me,” he said. “I grew up down the street. This is my home.”
Asked if he thought the current La Salle squad could live up to the tradition of the program, Goedde replied, “That’s a good question. I’ll tell you that in January.”
Enzweiler soared in the third period against West, and Anuforo did the same for the Firebirds in the second stanza. He scored eight points in that quarter.
“To be honest, I didn’t expect to get in that much because they’re a physical team,” Anuforo said. “But I always feel like I can do that. I’m just waiting for coach to put me in so I can shine and help the team. I always go in accepting that we might lose. It makes me play better.”
“I’m hoping a guy like Osean will become consistent,” Leon said. “We don’t have a true point guard right now. He’s got to get stronger physically, but he’s smart and shoots the ball well. We’re going to give him more opportunities. He might step up and be that guy we need to run the point.”
West will host Sycamore on Friday and Fairborn on Saturday.
Lakota West 7-9-7-13—36
La Salle 10-8-17-11—46
LAKOTA WEST (2-3): Charlie Massa 1 0 2; Matt DeSalvo 2 0 5; Carter Combs 1 0 3; Osean Anuforo 5 0 10; Brady Weber 1 4 6; Kelvin Turner 3 0 7; Bradley Groth 1 1 3. Totals: 14-5-36
LA SALLE (3-3): Kodyn Lambert 1 0 2; Nathan Vogelpohl 1 2 5; Nolan Enzweiler 5 2 13; Jaylen Lemons 5 2 14; Jeffrey Queen 3 3 10; Derek Eddings 0 2 2. Totals: 15-11-46
3-pointers: LW 3 (Turner, DeSalvo, Combs), LAS 5 (Lemons 2, Enzweiler, Vogelpohl, Queen)
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