A 10-19 record last year was nothing for the Leander Lions to be prideful about, but behind a roster stacked with veterans and an experienced coaching staff, the new season arrives with great promise.
Seniors David Bonner, Logan Kubin, Pedro Silva and Michael Berry could play a key role in Leander’s success this season. Bonner scored more than 10 points in almost every game last year. Kubin may have another chance to play point guard this season because of his stellar passing that will help get his teammates down the court. Berry played at the forward spot, and his size and abilities can help score a lot of points for the Lions.
Junior forward Kobe Thompson will provide the Leander point guards another talented target to pass to on the wing. Kristian Murphy and JP Stevens also will look to serve as reliable options on the offensive end of the court.
Murphy displayed his ability to light up the scoreboard last season, and if he can carry over his performance into this year, the Lions will have a better chance at getting and staying ahead.
Junior shooting guard Cody Bayer moved up from JV to varsity and will likely add some scoring on the perimeter and in transition. Silva is a new player this year at the point guard position, and also can help keep the ball moving down the court and into the hands of Bonner, Kubin, and Berry.
The Lions have four seniors, with most having played together since they were kids, and have just the right amount of experience to help get the Lions back into the playoffs this year.
Sophomore forward Dalton Flowers also is a new addition to the team after transferring from Rouse. He has to learn Bradley’s play style, but he is quick and light off of his feet as he has shown on the football field as a wide receiver. Standing at 6’5, junior big man Chase Cotton adds more size to the team alongside Berry and Flowers.
Last season, the Lions missed the playoffs by one game. With the returning starters and added help from the newcomers, Leander should have enough to win the extra games necessary to ensure a postseason spot in 2016.
The season opener features a strong Rouse team that finished last year 21-12 overall, and 6-8 in district play. Liberty Hill will serve as a difficult matchup behind junior center Zach Lord, the 6’9, 245-pound phenom ranked No. 34 in the state by Texas Top 100. The Panthers finished 32-1 overall and undefeated in district play with a 10-0 record.
Matchups against Georgetown and Vandergrift could ultimately be huge factors in the playoff run for the Lions. The Vipers finished the 2014-2015 season 22-12 overall, and 10-4 in district play, including a narrow 60-58 victory against the Lions. With the return of 6’0 senior point guard Drayton Whiteside, who we saw at the Texas Great American Shootout this summer, Vandergrift has a chance to do some major damage in district play.
Two of the toughest opponents Leander has scheduled are cross-town rivals Cedar Park and Vista Ridge, who combined for 24-4 district record last year.
Leander’s coach Clint Bradley has been at Leander for 13 years, and his leadership will prove to be a huge factor this season for the Lions. He has plenty of experience and a set style to his team. He knows how to win, but there are a few minor things that need to be fixed to put Leander back on top. In previous years, the Lions have either made the playoffs or come close to it, and odds are this season will be no different.
Jack Densmore is a senior at Leander High School participating in the Texas Top 100 Academy for Young Writers program. He also serves as the editor-in-chief for the LHS online newspaper. Follow him on Twitter at @densmorejack.