Cavs head in Wright direction

Published 8:47 pm Saturday, November 30, 2013

Lakeland High School sophomore Deonta Knight will move from forward to guard early on this season and serve as the anchor to the Cavaliers’ efforts.

Lakeland High School sophomore Deonta Knight will move from forward to guard early on this season and serve as the anchor to the Cavaliers’ efforts.

The Lakeland High School Cavaliers made gains on the basketball court last year, and head coach Clint Wright expects to build on that in his second season with the team.

In 2012-13, the Cavs went 9-16 and earned their first playoff berth since 2010.

“In my sophomore campaign, I think one of the pluses is that the guys have gotten to know my style and philosophy,” Wright said.

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After the Virginia High School League’s realignment, Lakeland will compete in conference and potential post-season play exclusively against schools of like size.

Wright made one objective clear: “Our goal is to win the conference.”

The coach is confident in the athletic ability and physical strength of his line-up, which averages about 6 feet 3 inches to 6 feet 4 inches in height. “I think we can compete with the best of them,” he said.

That confidence is only fueled by his take on the realignment.

“I think it gives us a viable opportunity to compete for a state championship,” Wright said.

He will miss relationships that came out of playing district teams twice in a season, but referred to new conference-mates when he said, “I look forward to making new relationships with Phoebus (High School), Heritage (High School) and also Denbigh (High School).”

The Cavaliers will press on without six graduated seniors: Dexter Davis, Antonio Jefferson, Shaquille Outlaw, Michael Piersawl, SeVeante Williams and Samson Worrell.

Several key players remain, however, on the 2013-14 roster, which includes six juniors, five sophomores and three seniors.

Deonta Knight was a leader for the team as a freshman at forward, and now as a sophomore, he will show some of his versatility, moving to more of a guard position to start out the season.

“At any time, he can play three positions on the floor,” Wright said, and he can shoot the three-pointer with the same proficiency as some of Lakeland’s other guards.

“He’s going to be the all-purpose, multi-dimensional player that is going to be our anchor,” Wright said.

Junior point guard Kenya Latham will be the floor general for the team, calling the offense. Wright said colleges are looking for players who can make their teammates better.

“That’s what our goal is for Kenya this year,” the coach said.

Latham has spent extra time poring over game film to improve his play.

Sophomore forward Jaquan Yulee will return, bringing energy to Lakeland basketball.

“He’ll be our utility person,” Wright said. “He runs the floor, grabs rebounds, excites the crowd, he’s simply a fan favorite.”

Wright is under no illusions about where Yulee’s future lies — on the gridiron, where he’s already fielding several Division I offers. But he’s still shown a desire to help out the Cavs on the court.

“While I’ve got him, I’m going to take full advantage of his athletic ability,” Wright said.

It was the defensive effort of Markese Wright last season against Oscar Smith High School that led Lakeland into the post-season.

“To me, that was the breakout moment for Markese,” Wright said.

Because of this, the senior will be a defensive specialist this year.

Providing a spark off the bench will be sophomores Qurante Budd and Daquan Boyette.

“They bring a sense of energy to the ball club where just their speed and overall ability to score is just phenomenal,” Wright said.

Sophomore Khallil McGlone provides his services after transferring in from Norfolk Christian High School. Lakeland will also benefit from the height of 6-foot-5-inch junior Irvin Ashburn and the size of approximately 245-pound senior Marche’ Everette.

While not trying to compare this team to last year’s squad, Wright said, “I do feel that from top-to-bottom we’re a touch more talented, seemingly.”

Lakeland will start the season at Great Bridge High School on Tuesday.