Lakeview boys basketball team looking to build on last season’s success

By: Jason Carmel Davis | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published December 11, 2013

 The St. Clair Shores Lakeview boys basketball team opens the season with a bout against Roseville, set for 7 p.m. Dec. 11 at Roseville. Pictured is Huskies senior Eric Cass during a Dec. 4 practice.

The St. Clair Shores Lakeview boys basketball team opens the season with a bout against Roseville, set for 7 p.m. Dec. 11 at Roseville. Pictured is Huskies senior Eric Cass during a Dec. 4 practice.

Photo by Roy Feldman

ST. CLAIR SHORES — The 2012-13 edition of the St. Clair Shores Lakeview basketball team was a banner year.

The Huskies won the program’s first division title since 1982, going 12-2 in the Macomb Area Conference Silver Division. Lakeview coach John Carr in his second year earned MAC Silver Coach of the Year honors, and senior forward Robert Shield won his second straight MAC Silver MVP award. Huskies senior forward Gary Tilney earned All-Conference honors, as well.

Carr said he’s looking to build on that success but will do it with new players.

Lakeview, which went 19-4 overall last season, lost six players to graduation. The Huskies return five veterans to a squad that features 12 players. Those players, Carr said, are working extremely hard to make a name for themselves.

“A lot of the guys are looking to take over for the players who graduated. They’re looking for major playing time,” Carr said. “They’re really working hard for that playing time.”

Several players will step into expanded roles this season, Carr said, including senior Eric Cass, who played point guard as a junior. Carr said Cass would be asked to play all five positions. Carr also touted the play of senior guard Zac Strobl and junior guard Keon Brown.

“Those three have really stepped up so far,” said Carr, whose team opened practice Nov. 18.

He also said senior forward Connor Luke, the first big man off the bench last season, will see major minutes.

Cass said this year’s group of Huskies needs to continue what last year’s group established.

“We have to live up to the bar that last year’s team set. That happens in practice,” Cass said. “I feel like the guys who might not have played a lot last year got a lot from going against last year’s seniors in practice, and I think we’re ready to go.”

Even with the roster turnover, Carr said his approach would not change. The Lakeview coach said he wants to utilize a full-court, pressing style on defense, with a goal of creating offense off that defense. Carr also said he wants to push the ball on offense and get easy baskets.

Carr and Cass believe team defense will be the key. Lakeview allowed just 46.8 points in 2012-13. Only three squads in the 36-team MAC surrendered fewer points per game.

Lakeview averaged 60.6 points per game last season on its way to a division title, with just five MAC teams tallying more points a night. Carr said he doesn’t see his team scoring at that high a level consistently, but his hope is that this group plays tough defense every night.

“I think if you can hold teams under 50 points a game in high school on the varsity level, you’ll have a chance to win a lot of games, so that’s our goal,” Carr said.

The coach added that his team lacks size but has a lot of speed. Lakeview’s perimeter defenders will have to be stronger this season to make up for a lack of height.

“The perimeter defense was great last season, but it’s going to have to be even better this year because we don’t have the size we had last season,” Cass said.

“Our guards are going to have to put more pressure on opposing teams and cause more turnovers to sort of hide our weakness. We don’t want other teams to exploit our lack of height.”

The team’s goal is still to repeat as MAC Silver champions. Carr said the league is wide open — Lakeview shared last season’s division title with Clinton Township Clintondale — and that he’ll do his best to put the team in a position to repeat.

“These kids are hungry,” Carr said. “They like the taste of winning they got last season, and they want to keep that going. I think we can definitely put ourselves in the mix.”

Lakeview opens the season with a matchup against Roseville High, set for 7 p.m. Dec. 11 at Roseville.