The Lions fell to the Grangers 66-53 to kick off the season, but head coach J.W. Cantrell said he knew it would be a tough game when he set the schedule up that way.
“It was a tough environment because we were in LaGrange. I had to start a freshmen and it was just a rough night shooting. They got to the free throw line more than we did,” Cantrell said.
Even with the loss, Lithia Springs still had some key players, put up double digit points on the night.
Senior 6-foot-5 center Neil Phillips was the top scorer for the game with 25 points, followed by 5-foot-9 senior point guard Beau Carter with 17 points.
Cantrell named Phillips and Carter as two of his five key returners for this season. Cantrell also named 6-foot-2 senior guard Johnathan Walker, 6-foot-3 senior power forward Tius Vick and 5-foot-11 junior shooting guard Myles Howard. At 5-foot-9, senior guard Bakari Best is the team’s best defender, Cantrell said.
Carter, Phillips and Walker have played on the varsity level for Lithia Springs since they were freshmen and this is their third year starting.
With six seniors and four juniors on the varsity team, the Lions do not lack experience on the court.
“We’ve got experience. Experience is our strong point. We’re mostly seniors,” said Cantrell.
Last season, Lithia Springs took home the region championship but lost to Marist, 55-39, in the first round of the state Class AAAA playoffs.
While last season’s team was able to gain a title, Cantrell said those seniors are all gone and playing college ball now and will be tough to replace.
In addition, the team is in a new region facing such unfamiliar foes as Rome and Allatoona.
“We’re in a new region now so I’m not familiar with the teams on the other side,” said Cantrell.
Regardless of the team on the other side of the court, Cantrell said his team will run a motion offense and attempt to get the ball into the post as much as possible. When they don’t have the ball, Cantrell said his team will run a pressure defense to force turnovers and prevent quality shots.