Over the last three years, Lakewood alum Duane Cooper has done everything in his power to rebuild his alma mater. He inherited a Lancers squad that went 8-20 and just 3-9 in the Moore League, and pushed the boulder up the hill to the 2017-18 season, when Lakewood went 17-13 and 7-5 in the Moore League, taking fourth place.
The Lancers earned a playoff berth and won their first-round game against Troy.
Since then, it’s been a frustrating offseason for Cooper and the program, with some key departures, including the transfer of sophomore Atin Wright, who’d starred for the Lancers.
“Sometimes the decision makers in families think that the grass is greener,” said Cooper. “For me, I want my players to develop and get better. I think we set our athletes and students up for the real world–we’re not building NBA players, we’re building responsible, positive young men.”
This year’s Lancers team has started the year 2-2 but hasn’t yet had 6-foot-7 center Ethan Edwards on the floor yet due to injury. Cooper expects his Lancers squad to continue to compete in the mold he’s set for them, with disruptive defense and an undersized roster.
“We want to play really smart but we want to play gritty and grimy,” said Cooper, who’s high on his guards this year.
Trey Perry, Desmond Williams, Devin Brown, and Dylan Frazier will form a formidable all-senior backcourt that Cooper hopes will be able to compete with bigger teams.
“We’re not big, so we have to be scrappy,” said Cooper. “I’ve always thought that as long as you’ve got good guard play, you’ll be fine in high school basketball.”