Royals ready to bounce back | Prep basketball preview

Kent-Meridian High's boys basketball team has struggled out of the gate, but coach Brian Lockhart believes that his players will ultimately have a successful season as they get their legs under them.

"I really tried to select guys based on character," he said, having had bad experiences previously with good players who were poor students.

The team, he says, has "always been hounded by the academic beast."

Knowing that there's more to life than basketball, he had to cut players who were floundering. This year, however, he aims to correct that by picking players who are both successful students and athletes.

"It's not just gonna be basketball," he said. "It's gonna be school and life."

He says he's transitioning his team into an offensive-minded team, one that "gets in your face, and by the fourth quarter tries to wear you out."

To help him accomplish this, he's relying on players such as point guard Quincy Brown, post Alante Peterson, and wing Brian Hatfield. Brown, he says, will set the pace while Peterson will be free to rebound and move around the court as needed. Hatfield, he says, is the best scorer on the team.

As for his new varsity players, Lockhart expects Romaine Jackson, Daniel Levison and Ofenia Soakai to shine through a balance of game smarts and court toughness.

Lockhart works to bring out these player talents through practices that alternate hard and soft workouts for equal time, and stressing cohesive play. Finally, he's had to work on fighting the player's belief that their team is destined for mediocrity. He hopes to take a top-three spot in the league, but knows it won't happen unless the players believe both in one another and have pride in their team both on and off the court.

"When you get guys to believe, who play together, who knows what could happen," Lockhart said.

Kent-Meridian lost its first three games against West Seattle, Tahoma and Auburn. The Royals travel to play Kentlake at 7:30 p.m. Friday.


Royals at a glance

• 2012-2013 Season: (10-6 SPSL, 12-8 overall)

• Returning: G Quincy Brown, 5-7 Sr.; WG Bryan Hatfield, 6-0, Sr.; F Marcus Lowe, 6-2, Sr.; WG James Cook 6-0, Sr.; P Alante Peterson, 6-3, Sr.; WG Chris Lewis, 6-2, Jr.; G Jordan Lockhart, 5-8, Jr.

• New: P Ofenia Soakai, 6-2, Sr.; G Daniel Levison, 6-0, Sr.; G John Okullu, 6-2, Sr.; WG Nate Barton, 6-0, Jr.; P Angel Cheema, 6-2, Jr.; G Romaine Jackson, 5-8, Soph.

• Strengths: Ability to hit the three, guard speed and depth

• Weaknesses: Mental resilience, smaller guards

• In a nutshell: Has the potential to be strong in every game they play, but also needs motivation to prevent them from playing down to competition's level.

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