By Will LeBlond
When the calendar turned to 2018 just over a month ago, there wasn’t too much celebration inside the Lansing Boys Basketball locker room.
Head coach Stu Dean’s team got off to a 2-5 start, which included a four-game losing streak near the end of December that really forced the Bobcats to dig deep in order to save their season. Ever since their 52-46 defeat to Spencer-Van Etten in the opening round of the Watkins Glen Holiday Tournament on Dec. 29, they’ve been a totally different team.
“He told us that we were 2-5 and we’re not going to make it to sectionals unless we get to .500,” said junior Luke Winslow on how Dean tried to rally the troops. “I think that really motivated us to start winning games because we really want to have a chance to go into the playoffs and go far.”
After Dean’s rallying cry, the Bobcats rifled off nine straight wins, which not only put them in a position to make the Class C Section IV Tournament, but it has given them a good chance to make a deep run. When it comes to why Lansing has been able to get rolling, you don’t have to look any further than the old mantra that defense wins championships.
“We changed to a man-to-man defense and our communication has been great,” said Winslow on the team’s turnaround. “A lot of players have also stepped up and have been more aggressive on defense.”
The new defensive style was much needed as Dean mentioned earlier in the year that the Bobcats are a bit undersized this season in comparison to some other teams they match up against. Now, with the postseason on the way, the Bobcats have proven that they’ve found a way to combat that and turn it into a positive on their end.
“We always need backside help on the other team’s big man,” said Winslow on the team’s adjustment. “We also have to pressure the ball before it’s entered into the post and that’s how we’ve been defending those bigger guys.”
On the other end of the floor, Winslow has developed into the top scoring threat for the Bobcats. He’s joined by Joe Miller-LaBar, Garrett Bell, and Griffen Nelson as the consistent leaders when it comes to scoring, as the Bobcats scored 50 or more points in every game during their winning streak.
“Confidence was definitely building with each game,” said Winslow on the offensive output.
For Winslow, who is a third-year varsity player and the only returning starter on a Lansing team that lost a good deal of talent to graduation, he’s been fitting nicely into his new role during his junior campaign.
“The last couple years, I’ve been more of a defensive player,” said Winslow. “This year, I’ve definitely felt like I need to step up more on offense with most of the team being young.”
Unfortunately for Winslow and the Bobcats, they ended their regular run with a pair of losses to Dryden and Union Springs, which kept them just outside of a tie for the top spot in the IAC Large School North. With that, the Bobcats can look towards the Class C Section IV Tournament, which is set to start in the coming weeks.
The Bobcats had a disappointing run last winter, as they were the seventh seed after a 10-7 regular season mark and fell in the quarterfinal round to 10th seeded Spencer-Van Etten. Following their 10-8 regular season this winter, they could find themselves in a similar spot seeding wise, but there’s plenty of faith that they can turn some heads in the postseason.
“We definitely have a lot of momentum from our winning streak,” said Winslow.
And when it comes to the key to success coming up in the postseason, it’s pretty simple for Winslow: “Definitely our energy and sticking together.”