Last season’s Lansdowne High boys basketball team finished 12-10 and relied on the scoring of DaQuan Williams and solid defense to win games.
Coach Greg Karpers is comforted by the fact that Williams is back this season intent on reaching a milestone and he’s hoping the defense can equal last year’s performance.
“He [Williams] is closing in on 1,000 points in his career,” Karpers said. “It’s close, as long as he stays healthy and continues to do what he has been doing.”
Williams (6-feet, 1 inch) averaged 20.5 points per game last year and was named to the All-Division II First Team and All-County Second Team.
He did that mostly while handling the ball at point guard.
Karpers expects him to play more at shooting guard thanks to the transfer of senior Tyki Durbin (5-7), who moved to Maryland from Alaska.
“He (Durbin) is a good defensive player and he can also handle the ball and initiate the offense,” Karpers said.
Junior Teddy Wilson (5-11) is the backup point guard.
Junior small forward Greg Scarborough (6-2) is also capable of scoring in bunches.
Scarborough was the sixth man early last season before being promoted to the starting lineup.
Senior guard Luke Tucker (5-8) is another returning varsity player who should help stretch opposing defenses with solid perimeter shooting.
“His game has gotten stronger physically,” Karpers said. “Confidence-wise, he’s definitely improved since last year.”
Senior guard Justin Kimball (5-7) also has varsity experience and junior guard Jordan Reeping (5-10) is another sharpshooter in the backcourt.
“That should relieve some of the pressure off of DaQuan so he doesn’t have to do it all,” Karpers said.
The Vikings will be fairly young on the front line, where sophomores Marcus Sessoms (6-5) and Nimrod Westcott (6-5) move up from JV into starting roles.
“They definitely bring a physical, shot-blocking presence that we haven’t had,” said Karpers, of the two players who also played on the football team.
Senior veteran Marcus Harris (6-1) adds depth inside.
The biggest key for the Vikings will be replacing graduated seniors Antoine Jones and Kyndell Overton.
The Arbutus Times co-Athletes of the Year fueled the Vikings’ stingy defense.
“Those guys were really amazing defensively,” Karpers said. “To hold teams under 60 points was a credit to their desire and trust in each other.”
Jones also led the team in rebounding (162), assists (77) and steals (62) and Overton scored 201 points last season.
“This year we might be able to score a little better, but the defense has a ways to go to get to the level we set last year,” Karpers said.
That defense peaked last season in a 48-44 victory over a Perry Hall squad that came to Lansdowne’s gym with a 14-2 record, while the Vikings were 9-7 at the time.
Williams scored 27 points in that upset.
Newcomers to varsity this season include senior guard Kyle Umstead (5-11), who played on the JV as a sophomore but didn’t play last season; junior guard Arion Vanzego (6-2); and junior center Jermar Moore (6-4).
Karpers hopes the Vikings advance further in the playoffs than they have in the past two years when they were eliminated in the first round, but he knows his team has a long way to go before he has to worry about that.
“Our goal is to get better every day,” he said. “That is something we did last year as evidenced by the fact we could knock off highly ranked Perry Hall. If we are better today than we were yesterday than we are headed in the right direction.”
Lansdowne opens the season Dec. 7 when the Vikings host Owings Mills at 5 p.m.