The Warren Lumberjacks had the worst season in program history last year when they failed to win a single game.
Now under second year head coach Jimmy May, Warren has already improved winning nine games, including four wins in the 8-4A Conference.
Part of the reason for the team’s success so far is the 10 sophomores that moved up from a solid junior high squad.
“We have a young group of basketball players,” May said. “They are highly interested and motivated and are one of the reasons why we are doing so well.”
Last season was May’s first year at Warren and he led the junior high team, which consisted of mostly ninth graders, to an 18-4 record and a conference title.
Now those ninth graders have moved up to the high school varsity team and are playing a key role in the team’s improvement from last year’s dismal season.
Sophomores Darveon Brown, Lafoy*** Smith and Ryan Clary are all starters. Juniors Kaleel Thomas and VonEric Gonder*** complete the starting five.
“We are playing an uptempto style that the players seem to like and one that takes advantage of our depth,” May said. “We have 17 players on the roster, and we use anywhere from 10 to 12 almost every night.”
May said he compliments his offense with a full-court pressure on defense.
The inside presence of Clary has been the biggest improvement for the Lumberjacks.
“Being able to attack the rim,” Clary said. “That is something we haven’t been able to do before.”
Clary, who stands at about 6’7, averages almost double digits every game. He scored 25 points against Hamburg earlier this year.
The biggest weakness for Warren, according to May, is their outside shooting.
“We don’t have the luxury of having many shooters right now,” May said. “We lack consistency.”
Warren’s first win of the season was a non-conference game against Rison. It was the first time the Lumberjacks had won a game since the 2010-11 season.
Eleven players scored in that win.
“Naturally we were happy to get that first win,” May said. “At the same time, we couldn’t be satisfied with just that one.”
Despite the poor season, May said he has not felt any kind of pressure to win.
“I knew when I came in here, it was going to be a rebuilding process,” May said.
On Thursday, the Dumas Bobcats picked up their fifth consecutive win behind Dontarius Stovall’s 17 points and 10 each from Martavian Ward and Johnny Gibson to defeat Warren.
Brown led Warren with 14 points.
After an overtime loss to Hamburg on January 18, Warren defeated Lake Village 65-51 the following night. Lafoy Smith led the Lumberjacks with 13 points, while Brown chipped in with 11.
With only one senior on the team, May said he has high hopes for next season since almost every one will be returning.
“We will continue to look for improvement in all areas and looking to compete for championships,” May said.
Warren will play DeWitt on Tuesday.
“They are going to be tough,” May said. “They will keep it tight and force us to shoot outside.
“In order to counter, we must turn up our defensive pressure and play transition basketball.”
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***This article has been updated from its original version to correct name misspellings.