Laurel senior guard Delahney Williams, shown taking a shot last season over Bladensburg junior small forward Daniel Oladapo, returns for the varsity this season under new coach Kenneth Lloyd.
Laurel senior guard Delahney Williams, shown taking a shot last season over Bladensburg junior small forward Daniel Oladapo, returns for the varsity this season under new coach Kenneth Lloyd. (File photo)

As a first-year assistant coach last year Kenneth Lloyd was asked by Laurel High principal Dwayne Jones to take over as the head coach during the season for the boys varsity basketball team.

Lloyd, who also teaches government at the school, accepted the challenge and finished out the season for former head coach Torrence Oxendine, who left the school due to personal reasons.

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“I began the season as [an assistant] coach and I was on his staff,” said Lloyd, who teaches government at Laurel High. “So they asked me if I could take over.”

This season, Lloyd will have the advantage of starting out the year as the head coach for the Spartans.

“It gives [the players] consistency. That is really a key,” he said. “We are just trying to get back to consistency with program leadership.”

On the court, Lloyd will stress teaching fundamentals.

“I think the game is about fluency,” Lloyd said. “That is what we are trying to practice here or teach here. We are not teaching plays. We are teaching how you play.”

Lloyd and his staff will have plenty of challenges as the Spartans lost five seniors who started at some point last season.

Laurel began the 2017-18 season on Dec. 5 with a 68-52 victory over Wilde Lake. The Spartans next game is at home against Friends on Dec. 15 at 7:15 p.m.

“It is completely new. I have about six or seven seniors,” Lloyd said. “Those six or seven seniors have not really played organized basketball, let alone for Laurel.”

He does have a returning senior guard in Delahney Williams, who can play the point and shooting guard.

Another key player is senior forward Demtrius Craft.

“Demtrius can do a little of everything,” Lloyd said. “If we were playing college he would be a bigger guard. He will be our rock.”

Sophomore guard Brendon Blackson is another potential starter for the Spartans and senior swingman Mike Joyner is another key player.

Craft averaged about 14 points per game last season, while Williams scored 13 per outing.

Blackson was promoted to varsity from the junior varsity last season and suffered a shoulder injury.

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Lloyd feels the top three teams in the Prince George’s County Class 4A league this year will be Eleanor Roosevelt, Wise and Flowers.

“What we want to do is join the race,” Lloyd said. “Every year in high school is a rebuilding year.”

That is certainly true this year for Laurel, which at least has the same coach that ended last season.

Lloyd, who graduated from Loudon Valley High in Virginia in 1985, has high hopes for the future of the program as about 75 players tried out for the junior varsity and varsity teams. The Laurel JV team was above .500 last season.

He played two years at West Virginia University and was later an assistant coach at Woodlawn High, Goucher College and Stevenson University.

Pitts makes debut

Damian Pitts, a former Laurel High and Goucher College standout, is in his first year as the men’s basketball coach at Centenary University in New Jersey.

The Division III squad fell to 1-5 overall and 0-2 in league play with a 73-46 loss on Saturday, Dec. 2, in a Colonial States Athletic Conference contest against Gwyneed Mercy University.

“The biggest challenge is we are young. I start three freshmen and four of our top seven are freshmen. One of the starters who returned from last year broke his leg,” Pitts said.

Pitts was a long-time assistant at Division II Millersville in Lancaster, Penn., before he got his first head coaching job this season.

Keith Coutreyer, the former Laurel High boys basketball coach, is the associate head coach at Division I Howard University.

Howard is slated to play Thursday, Dec. 7 at Georgetown. The Hoyas are coached by former Georgetown standout Pat Ewing, who in his first year as head coach.

Howard plays Saturday at American in non-conference play. The Bison were 1-7 overall going into a home game against Penn on Dec. 4.

Owens strong on boards

Former Pallotti standout Tariq Owens, had a team-high 11 rebounds as St. John’s beat Sacred Heart, 90-55, on Saturday, Dec. 2.

Owens, who began his college career at Tennessee before he transferred to St. John’s, had 17 points in an 82-70 loss to No. 16 Arizona State. He is averaging 6.2 points per game.

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