New Players and Coach but Same Result As Lake Wales Defeats Bartow in Final
Fri. June 29, 2012 at 12:29 a.m. | By Solange Reyner
New Lake Wales boys basketball coach Randy Leee_SNbStalks with his players during the Championship game of the John Sinclair Summer League at Bartow High School. (Photo by ERNST PETERS | THE ASSOCIATED PRESS )
By SOLANGE REYNER
JOHN SINCLAIR SUMMER LEAGUE
BARTOW | It was a low-scoring affair, not like the butt whoopings Lake Wales handed out last year.
But Tuesday's championship game of the John Sinclair Summer League proved that Lake Wales, despite new faces on the court and on the bench, will again be the team to beat in boys basketball in Polk County next season.
The Highlanders, winners of the Class 5A state title last season, beat Bartow 48-29 in the title match-up Thursday, a game held at Bartow High School, with nearly 300 fans watching from the stands. Lake Wales made 10-of-24 shots, Bartow 10-of-26, but the Highlanders hit 25 shots from the free-throw line, over Bartow's 9-of-21, to gain a big advantage.
The evening was a finale of a 10-day summer tournament that included participation by most of the schools in the county and stretched over two weeks, starting on June 11.
It ended with perfection for Lake Wales, which went 12-0 in the tournament, even as the team rebuilds and the players look to find a groove with their new coach, Randy Lee, a former college coach who was selected to lead the Highlanders in early June, a search that included a pool of 77 applicants.
Billy Washington, who led the team to the state title, resigned in late April.
"He's a keeper," said Lake Wales guard Douglas Brooks, who came off the bench last year.
That's not the way Brooks felt initially, and like most of his team members, he gave Lee a hard time at first.
"At first we were being very bad, arguing a lot and not listening to him," Brooks said. "But we came together as a team and talked and realized that he's here to stay so we might as well try to work it out. We want another ring and we have to work together."
Lee isn't the only new face in the spotlight.
There are no returning starters from last year's championship team so the Highlanders have to look to Brooks, Marcus Dewberry, a transfer from Avon Park, and a few other holdovers to get Lake Wales back in gear.
Shaquille Snell and J'Quayveon Williams, bench players last season, didn't play Thursday but will likely start and Savonte' Frazier, a flashy point guard who transitions well with the ball, should also be in the mix should he continue to play well up until the start of the season.
Frazier ran the offense most of the night Thursday, albeit with a little bit of a flare. Brooks also stuck to his colorful style of play, putting up 3-pointers with hands in his face and whooping his hand in the air when he or a teammate made a nice play.
"We have to keep that somewhat in check but we want the kids to have fun," Lee said. "I want them to feel confident and exude that confidence."
Bartow, which returns four starters including Chris Perry, a center who has several Division I offers, looked tougher than it did last season, playing more aggressive and controlling the flow a bit more.
It still wasn't enough.
"I like this team a lot," Bartow coach Terrence McGriff said. "We just have to find a way to get over the hump against Lake Wales. I think these guys are going to figure it out."
Semifinals: Lake Wales 60, Tenoroc 46; Bartow 53, Auburndale 44
Third Place: Auburndale 48, Tenoroc 41