Hoops hopes are high for the Lancaster Bruins as they enter the 2022-23 basketball season.
Both Lancaster High School teams have their share of experienced players back as they seek to compete for region titles and playoff berths.
The Lancaster boys, under fourth-year head coach Jerron Cauthen, return three starters, led by talented senior Grayson Kirk, a Class 4A All-State pick last season.
Kirk, who averaged 18.3 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists, is regarded as one of the top senior players in Class 4A. An All-Region and All-County pick, Kirk is the Region 3-4A Preseason Player of the Year. He has plenty of support in returning starters Jordan Watford, a sophomore who averaged 9.6 points and four rebounds a game last season, and junior guard Ladarius Cloud, who averaged 9.7 points and 3.4 steals.
Seniors Jy Gladden, Colby Small and Xavier Graham are key returnees who saw their share of playing time last season. Gladden averaged 7.2 points a game, while Small scored three points and had 3.1 boards a game last season for the 20-7 Bruins.
Newcomers expected to provide depth include sophomore Jacarey Ballard, along with freshmen Malik Tinsley, Jacorin Brown and Columbus Parker, now sidelined with an injury, but shooting to return soon.
Cauthen can also count on juniors Deshaun Jones, Udonis Cousar and Julius Garner, along with sophomore Kevin Peay Jr. and freshman Ny’quan White. Cauthen, assisted by Trevor Foreman, Keshawn Clyburn and Avery Harris, noted the Bruins’ keys this season. “Defense is vital, and we take great pride in that,” Cauthen said. “We must defend our position. We have to play together, stay hungry and humble and remain coachable.” The Bruins enter the season as the No. 3 team in the Class 4A preseason state poll.
“We’ve earned that, but we must work hard and play tough because with an elite ranking, you know you will draw your opponents’ A-game, so we have to match that each night.”
Lady Bruins solid
The Lady Bruins, under veteran coach Ronnie Robinson, sport a solid cast of returnees, including three starters off a 12-9 team, which earned a Class 4A playoff bid last season. The Lancaster veterans include nine seasoned players who saw their share of court time. “We have a solid group,” said Robinson, in his 18th season. “We had a good summer and we’ve grown as a team with our work and team bonding. We finished strong to end last season and we hope to build on that momentum as we head into a new season.”
Lancaster has three players who earned preseason all-region honors, including sophomore post player KeMarja Peay, sophomore guard Eliza Baskins and senior guard Logan Truesdale.
Peay, an All-County and All-Region pick last season, averaged 13 points and 7.4 rebounds.
The Lady Bruins trio has plenty of support in senior guards Lathan Truesdale and Aniya Davis. The team’s lone junior is guard Angel Cousar, a key returnee for team leadership.
Zatyra Walls, a sophomore post, and sophomore Jalaya Cunningham, who can play guard or post, also return. “We have experience and we hope to use it to our advantage by protecting the ball and reducing turnovers,” Robinson said. The Lady Bruins have three newcomers, including sophomore guard Mia Proctor, sophomore post Zari White and freshman guard Olyanna Wheeler. Proctor isn’t totally new since she saw some varsity action, moving up from the junior varsity team at times last season.
Addie Small, a sophomore post, is another veteran, but has been sidelined by a foot injury.
“We hope to get her back at some point this season,” Robinson said.
Robinson, assisted by Beanie Garris and Kaliya Jackson, noted the keys to the Lady Bruins season. “We have to stay healthy because a lot of times last season we were missing people and that hurt our consistency,” he said. “We must play as a team and play good defense from start to finish.”
The Lady Bruins were picked fourth in the preseason region coaches poll. “The region will be competitive and we have to play well each time out,” Robinson said. “Each game will be tough and we have to be ready for that challenge.”