Senior guard Matt Scott carried much of the load for last year's Lakeside Panthers. Third-year coach Richie Carnes said last year won't happen again.
Mr. Carnes said Mr. Scott won't be the only one to feel pressure this season.
"I'm counting on all of them," the coach said. "I put pressure on all of them."
But it will be up to Scott - much like it's been his entire Lakeside career - to lead the way.
Last year, he averaged 25 points and eight rebounds per game to lead Lakeside to a 5-20 record. Mind you, they were a very dangerous 5-20 team.
The Panthers proved it against Cross Creek when Scott recorded 24 points and 17 rebounds, and Van Valkenburgh put in 19 points to stun the Razorbacks, who were then undefeated in Region 3-AAAA.
Production like that from anybody not named Scott certainly will be welcome.
"It got tough last year," said Scott, a first-team all-area player last season. "It was like, 'Man, I just scored 40 points, and we still got beat.' It was really frustrating. But this year, I'm not going to have to carry 500 tons. I'm just carrying a few pounds."
There's little question opposing defenses will focus most of their attention on Scott anyway.
Especially since he's such a deadly long-range shooter.
He thinks nothing of picking up his dribble from 30 feet out and trying to drain a long-distance 3-pointer.
More often than not - as evidenced by his 92 3-pointers last season - he nails them.
"He feels like he can make everything," Carnes said.
The 6-foot-2, 180-pound senior wants to do more than shoot, though.
He spent two weeklong sessions this summer at a 5-Star basketball camp in Pittsburgh, improving his defense, his vertical jump and his mentality on the court.
Now, aside from a hiccup in practice every now and then, his mind is focused on getting his teammates more involved.
"I kept him in a lot of times for the whole game last year," Carnes said. "A lot of the times, he would be fatigued at the end. We were not deep last year. But everyone learned a lot, and we have a chance to be a decent team if we play like we should.
"Last year, it was hard to have fun in practice when you have to do things over and over. We're having fun in practice this year."
It'll be even more fun if Scott doesn't have to tote 500 tons each game.
"We're going to have to win a lot of games, and in my first three years, we haven't been able to do it," Scott said. "But (former Greenbrier star) Eric Marshall and (former Butler standout) Marcus Walker are gone. We didn't lose anybody. We've definitely evened up with the rest of those teams."
Reach Josh Katzowitz at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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