Artis settles into varsity role

Published 7:31 pm Saturday, February 10, 2018

Keimari Artis was voted Suffolk News-Herald Player of the Week after dropping 20 points and grabbing five rebounds against Great Bridge High School.

The Lakeland High School boys’ basketball teams started the season as one of the least experienced teams in the Southeastern District. They had no players with previous varsity playing time on the team. With the regular season coming to an end, players like Artis have gained valuable experience and have settled into the varsity role.

Artis, a sophomore, is one of the playmakers for Lakeland. In his first season as a varsity starter, he has had multiple games where he has scored 15-plus points. It didn’t all come easy. Artis knew an adjustment period was going to be needed if he wanted to succeed at the varsity level, so he worked on his game and his strength.

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“Both my coaches and I knew that it would be a little tough to transition since the varsity level is a faster pace than junior varsity,” Artis said. “So, I consistently got into the weight room and conditioned myself all summer.”

Before the season started, Artis had set high goals for himself. The sophomore wanted to come in and play the best he could for his team while also developing chemistry with his team. Lakeland has won three of its last four games after previously having only three wins. Artis is happy to see the work he and his team have put in starting to pay off at the right time.

“Being a predominantly young team, it feels great that our hard work is paying off,” he said. “But right now, we are just trusting the process.”

His parents and coaches are a huge motivation for him when he is out on the court. Lady Cavs standout Kayla Barnes is his older cousin and is a big inspiration to him. She recently reached the milestone of 1,000 career points, and that is something Artis hopes to accomplish one day.

From his first varsity game this season until now, Artis feels he is settling in and gives credit to the people that are around him.

“I’m really comfortable,” Artis said. “Night in and night out, my teammates are making it easier. Knowing that they have my back on the court is a big factor for me being so comfortable.”

Lakeland now hopes to position itself for a playoff run. They continue to build more and more chemistry and are learning how to close out games.

“We finally got our groove going,” Artis said. “We think we should be able to keep it going, since we are all playing together and doing our role.”

When not around basketball, Artis likes to spend time with his family. LeBron James is his favorite player, and he enjoys learning how to be a floor general from him.

Lakeland will be back in action again Tuesday when they go on to face rival King’s Fork High School.