Wins would be welcomed, but Linganore High School boys basketball coach Tom Kraft said this month is about gaining experience and improving. Such is the mission when a coach lost his top eight players from a team that reached the 3A West Region championship game.
“December, for us, is about getting a little bit better every time we step out on the floor,” Kraft said following a 73-43 loss to visiting Westminster on Friday. “Hopefully, we get a win or two under our belts early to get some confidence.”
Kraft said despite the lopsided score on Friday, he was proud of how his team continued to compete right until the end.
“That's what you need from a young team, to realize that this is a process, and these guys realize that,” he said.
Westminster (2-0) was a difficult challenge for a young team. The Owls reached the 4A North Region semifinals last year, losing to eventual region champ Sherwood. They have four players who are 6-foot-6 or taller, including two at 6-9. The Lancers (0-2) only have one player taller than 6-3, senior Seth Myers (who is 6-5).
“I told the Westminster coach after the game, that coming in most people will talk about their size — they just come after you in waves with their big men — but the reality is that their guards are as good as any guards I'm going to see this year,” Kraft said. “That's a very well-rounded team.”
Westminster jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the first three minutes of the game, but Linganore scrapped its way back into contention, taking a 10-8 lead with 3:33 remaining in the first quarter. Senior guard Nick Gourley had a couple of key steals during that run and freshman point guard Thomas Lang scored four points.
However, the Owls closed the quarter on a 11-3 run to take a 19-13 lead into the second quarter. Linganore closed to within 23-19, but once again Westminster closed a quarter strong with a 15-6 run to take all the drama out of the game.
Lang, who is the son of former Poolesville boys basketball coach Tom Lang, is one of the players Kraft says will get better this month because of the experience he's gaining now.
“He sees the floor better than anyone else in our program right now,” Kraft said. “He has to adjust to the speed and the athleticism of the varsity game. Are there going to be growing pains for him? Absolutely, but rarely does he make the same mistake.
“His dad was the coach at Poolesville High School for 20 years, he's been around basketball since he was born. His instincts are unlike anything else I've ever coached.”
Lang admitted his biggest adjustment in two games is the speed.
“It's been a lot quicker,” Lang said. “Right now, it's just making the adjustment, relaxing and playing as hard as I can.”
Lang finished with six points, third highest on the team. Myers, the center, had a team-high 13 and Justin Myers added 10. Dalton Myers, one of the two 6-9 players for Westminster, led the Owls with 17 points.
Westminster 73, Linganore 43
Westminster 19 19 12 23—73
Linganore 13 12 8 10—43
Westminster (2-0): Dalton Myers 17, Devan Curet 15, Nick Ellison 11, Zach Meads 7, Skyler Shaffer 6, Ryan Gomes 6, Deryk Kern 4, Nick Bullock 4, Conner Lulay 2, Darius Clifton 1.
Linganore (0-2): Seth Myers 13, Justin Myers 10, Thomas Lang 6, Nick Gourley 4, Josh Millford 2, Ryan Schmidt 2, Tyler Anderson 2, Kyle Nicolet 1, Josh Slaughter 1.