By Jim Newell
Perseverance and hard work.
It sounds like the simplest of sports mantras, the formula for a successful game plan, but it’s much more difficult to believe in when your team starts the season with four straight losses.
For a young Dragon’s varsity basketball team, their belief never wavered and their persistence earned them their first victory of the season on Jan. 12 with a convincing 57-38 win over Berkley High School.
“The strength of our team is our chemistry and work ethic. These guys truly enjoy being around each other and they compete every day in practice,” Dragon Coach James Manzo said. “They are also a very unselfish group, as they share the ball very well.
“We are gaining valuable experience with each game we play and hope to surprise some people later this season,” he said. “Our team will pride itself on hard work and unselfish play.”
The Dragons got off to a slow start against Berkley, trailing 6-2 midway through the first quarter before going on a 13-2 run to take a 15-8 lead at the end of the opening stanza.
From there, Lake Orion never looked back, Manzo said.
The Dragons were led by junior guard Jamie Lewis, who scored a career high 27 points.
Senior guard Steve Zmijewski scored 6 points, while sophomore forward Hunter Sites chipped in with 5 points.
“Perhaps the highlight of the night was when junior forward Pierce Burke threw down a breakaway one handed dunk which brought the crowd to its feet,” Manzo said.
With the win, the Dragons improved to 1-4 and look to continue that momentum entering league play. The Dragons hosted the Stoney Creek Cougars Tuesday night after press time.
The Dragons next game is 7 p.m. Friday against the Oxford Wildcats at Oxford High School.
“Our league is very competitive with the likes of Stoney Creek (defending league champion), Rochester, Oxford (currently undefeated at 7-0), Birmingham Groves (district champion last year) and Birmingham Seaholm,” Manzo said.
While the Dragons started the season 0-4, Coach Manzo points out that the team played a tough pre-league schedule.
“Clarkston, Avondale and Troy are a combined 17-1, and we only lost to Romeo by 6 points. The guys are working hard and getting better every day. We are a very young team. We only have two players with varsity basketball experience, but aren’t using that as an excuse,” Manzo said.
“I think our biggest challenge right now is scoring. We need to find some consistent scoring across the board, and we are hoping that will come as the season progresses,” Manzo said. “Thanks to all those who came out to support our team.”