Year two under McQuillan aims to see steady gains

OK, so moving on from the 2016-17 season.

The Lansing High Lions’ boys’ basketball team struggled to a contentious 5-16 overall record, which included a 4-8 ledger in Kaw Valley League play. 

It has been a fall from grace for a program only a few years removed from a Class 5A state title in 2014, but second-year head coach Mark McQuillan should have enough talent to call upon as the new system of play has become more ingrained in the roster’s mindset.

Juniors Konner McQuillan and Jaden Remington are expected to be two of the better players as both return as starters, although the latter was felled by injury after playing only six games last winter.

“Our top newcomers would have to be our junior and sophomore classes,” Coach McQuillan said. “Both classes have athletes that can make things happen and since we only have one senior this year, practice should be competitive with both classes competing for varsity starting positions and playing time.”

After struggling with a wishy-washy approach to the game, this year’s team seems to have grasped the need to come at it in full throttle mode at all times.

“We are a lot more positive, a lot more prepared and in the summer, we had a lot of guys show up which helped us build team chemistry,” Konner McQuillan said. “We are working really hard and doing our strengths and conditioning to get in shape. The coaches are working us hard and they really want us to succeed and we want to be way better than last year, because last year was not acceptable.”

It will be about being able to handle the tough spots and adversity that comes during the course of the season.

“We were doing this drill and we were supposed to score 90 points and we didn’t get it and that time everyone was negative, that just happened a couple of days ago,” Remington said. “The next time we did it, we got 95 or something really good and that entire time we stayed positive. If we stay positive, we will overcome a lot of things. 

“We seem to overcome (adversity) a little better.”

The coach believes that the Lions are making the right progress between the ears to move forward.

“Our strength is our attitude,” Mark McQuillan said. “Attitude is everything and the focus of our basketball program. These young men are keeping that in perspective and come to practice with a want to get better attitude every day.

“Inexperience is what we lack at the varsity level, but with the coming to practice every day with the right attitude we can overcome that as the season progresses.”

It will be a challenge for the Lions to make the next step up amongst the 5A upper echelon and that could start with a strong showing in the final season of Kaw Valley play.

“Like all coaches I hope we will be in the hunt to finish at the top, but we will have to play with focus and a desire to compete night in and night out in the league,” the Lions’ coach said. 

It will all boil down to how the team can handle higher expectations as many Lions enter a whole new world.

“Our team is very young this year and there only a few of us who even played varsity last year, so they want to see if we can handle the varsity level,” Konner McQuillan said. “Last year, I was physically ready, but not mentally ready. I would get out of control or get a little too greedy. I’ve gotten stronger mentally and I have a lot of young guys who count on me to play defense and help anyway possible.”

“A lot of people have improved from last year so that will help us out,” Remington said. “That’s always the goal — to win. We have to improve on the defensive end, because defense wins championships.”

 

2017-18 Lansing Boys’ Basketball Schedule

Friday, Dec. 1 HOSTS Bonner Springs (G 5:45/B 7:15 p.m.)

Tuesday, Dec. 5, HOSTS Shawnee Heights (G 5:45/B 7:15 p.m.)

Friday, Dec. 8 at Seaman (G 5:45/B 7:15 p.m.)

Tuesday, Dec. 12 at Turner (G 5:45/B 7:15 p.m.)

Friday, Dec. 15 vs. Bishop Ward at KCKCC (G 5:45/B 7:15 p.m.)

Wednesday, Dec. 20 HOSTS Blue Valley Southwest (G 5:45/B 7:15 p.m.)

Tuesday, Jan. 2 HOSTS Raytown, 7 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 5 at Piper (G 5:45/B 7:15 p.m.)

Tuesday, Jan. 9 at Basehor-Linwood (G 5:45/B 7:15 p.m.)

Friday, Jan. 12 HOSTS Tonganoxie (G 5:45/B 7:15 p.m.)

Wednesday, Jan. 17-Saturday, Jan. 20 at Shawnee Mission West Tournament

Friday, Jan. 26 HOSTS Mill Valley, 7 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 2 HOSTS Bishop Ward (G 5:45/B 7:15 p.m.)

Tuesday, Feb. 6 HOSTS Piper (G 5:45/B 7:15 p.m.)

Friday, Feb. 9 at Tonganoxie (G 5:45/B 7:15 p.m.)

Friday, Feb. 16 HOSTS Turner (G 5:45/B 7:15 p.m.)

Tuesday, Feb. 20 HOSTS Basehor-Linwood (G 5:45/B 7:15 p.m.)       

Friday, Feb. 23 at Bonner Springs (G 5:45/B 7:15 p.m.)

Tuesday, Feb. 27 Sub-State Playoffs begin

March 8-10 Class 5A state tournament