By MIKE MEILER
Niagara Gazette — The Wilson Lakemen face a few uncertainties early on this season, bringing to the court a group of young, talented, athletic players with little varsity experience.
The Lakemen lost all of last year’s starting five to graduation, including first-team All-Niagara-Orleans guard Tyler Martin and second-team guard Pat Diez. Also gone are Pat Walch, David Littere and Dustin DiLaura.
The lone returnee that played significant minutes last year, senior Liam McIntosh, is out until January with an injury, and the other three returners from last season — seniors Matt Baker, Geoff Lort and Zach Magoon — played only limited minutes.
“Matt is off to a good start,” coach Brett Sippel said. “He played a couple of good games last year and has been good this year. He put a lot of time in in the offseason.
“Lort barely played last year, but he came in, put in a lot of work in the offseason and is now a captain for us.”
What the young Lakemen do bring to the table is size and athleticism. A fixture in the starting lineup has been 6-foot-3 junior Kevin Daunce, and sophomores Kyle Bradley and Jarrett Johnston bring similar frames.
“We’re pretty young and lack experience, but the talent is there,” Sippel said. “We have decent size.
“We played a lot in summer tournaments, so a lot of guys got experience there. Now it’s just about game experience, learning to work hard — and they are working hard. Right now, we need to work on scoring, which has been a problem early on.”
In Wilson’s four games this season, Sippel has used four different starting lineups. The coach said depth is a strength, especially once his team learns how to defend and get out in transition.
“We’re suiting up 10 guys right now, and everyone is playing the same amount of minutes,” Sippel said. “We’re looking for some guys to assert themselves into the starting lineup.
“We’re still working on our identity. We do like to run, and because we play a lot of guys transition is important, but we’re still working on our half-court game.”
The Lakemen kick of league play Dec. 21 against Roy-Hart.
Follow high school sports reporter Mike Meiler on Twitter @mikemeiler for updates on your local teams.Follow high school sports reporter Mike Meiler on Twitter @mikemeiler for updates on your local teams.