After a 2005-06 basketball season when wins were hard to come by, first-year Lakeside boys basketball coach Ryan Morningstar isn't blind to the Panthers' basketball reputation.
"We don't have any respect right now," he said. "Everybody thinks we're an easy win on the schedule."
Though the Panthers began the 2006-07 season winless in their first three games, Morningstar said the improvement is visible. Lakeside lost its first two games of the season by 18 and 23 points. In last Tuesday's loss at Westside, the Panthers narrowed the margin of defeat to 11 points.
In fact, after trailing by 16 points at halftime, Lakeside battled back to come within five points of Westside twice in the second half. The Panthers actually outscored Westside 35-30 in the second half.
Though the game still ended with Lakeside at 0-3 to start the season, Panthers starter Cody Marsh said the game was a sign that a win is just on the horizon.
"We came out slow at first, but in the second half we really stepped it up," Marsh said. "If we would have played like that the whole time I think we could have won. Right now we just need to put four quarters of good basketball together."
Still, Morningstar said the process to rebuild the Panthers basketball program won't be completed overnight. It's a work in progress that includes both player and coach. Morningstar, who got his start as Lakeside's junior varsity boys basketball coach, is fielding a squad as inexperienced as his varsity coaching career. Only one player on the roster, senior Blake Brandenburg, has any significant experience playing at the varsity level.
"We lost four starters and really don't have much coming back from last year," Brandenburg said. "But that can be a good thing, too. We have a clean slate - a new season and a new coach. We want to win games this year. Sometimes it can be tough to find talent, but it all starts with heart. I've already been impressed with the heart from the young guys. In the first game we only had 10 turnovers."
Lakeside's next chance at a win will be Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Butler before the Panthers return home to face Greenbrier on Friday.
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