Lake coach looks to bring championship attitude

By ROBBIE ROBERTSON,

Like the old country song says, Lake boys basketball coach John Darnell has “a long way to go and a short time to get there.”

Darnell comes to Lake from Kemper County, just two years removed from winning the Class 3A state championship.

“Basketball wise, I think we have a l lot of catching up to do,” Darnell said. “We only had four kids that didn’t play baseball. The majority of the kids play football. We just have to work on some basketball skills once they get in the gym. I’ve been here for three months and I think I have built a good relationship with the guys and they know what to expect. I think they will come in excited and I think they are looking forward to playing. I just want them to play hard and smart, that’s all I ask for.”

Darnell will certainly have his work cut out for him. This summer, Lake lost Dontavious Towner, who was killed in a car wreck. Darnell said Towner would have been his best player.

Also gone for a good portion of the season is Mark Qualls, who broke his collarbone the last week of the football season.

“Our depth is going to be really weak,” Darnell said. “But I’m giving everybody who wants to try out after football a chance to play. It’s just going to be a lot of coaching going on. I wouldn’t judge us by the first two months, maybe in January. They had a hard year last year and I’m just trying to change that culture. I have been there before with Kemper, they just have to be quick learners. If they come in with a good attitude, I think we will be able to compete in district.

After Qualls, Darnell said he will look to Desmond Harris, Zywon Ledbetter and Danarrious Hughes to make an impact off the football field.