Lakewood looking for banner year

By: By Adam Johnson - Sports Writer

The Lakewood Leopards girls’ varsity basketball team are fired up in hopes of exceeding their solid 2015 record. In the girls’ 2015-2016 season, they had an above-average 21-8 record, blazing past the large majority of teams on their schedule all the way to the third round of the 2016 playoffs, where they were tenth-seeded.

Lakewood will lose several seniors, of which are guard Justina Henry, guard Briana Evans, all-round player Jada Moore, and center Chanel McLellan. However, the Leopards have two seniors in center Taylor Odum and guard Sha’Asia Hamilton who will look to carry the torch and provide leadership to a relatively young basketball team. There is only one junior on the team this year, and the rest are sophomores.

The Lakewood Leopards survived all the way into the third round of the 2016 NCHSAA Women’s Basketball State Championships, but were defeated by the No. 2 seed in Plymouth 60-38. Yet, the Lakewood Leopards shocked many teams last year as they upset East Columbus in the second round of the playoffs. The fact that the tenth-seeded Leopards were able to get that far in the playoffs goes to show the might of the Leopards.

Vonnie McNeil will look to replace the 2015 seniors with some 2016 seniors, however, a lot of pressure will undoubtedly be put on the young sophomores to produce and win games in the absence of the many players that graduated last year. McNeil will lead the Leopards into the 2016 as they have already faced off against the West Bladen Knights, but lost in a tight matchup, 39-30. Yet, do not let that loss fool you, as West Bladen has a team full of veterans, with the majority of their roster being seniors. The Leopards’ next game is against their rivals in the Union Spartans on the 28th at 6 PM. Union is coming off a 6-17 year and will look to get their first win of the 2016 season against the Leopards.

Sha’Asia Hamilton takes a jumpshot from the baseline during a game last season.’Asia Hamilton takes a jumpshot from the baseline during a game last season.

By Adam Johnson

Sports Writer