KINGMAN - A wise person said "throw me to the wolves and I will return leading the pack." That was the plan for the Lee Williams High boys basketball team this season, and the Volunteers are already working to ensure their 1-27 season was worth the hardships endured.
"We stared working Monday," said LWHS coach Ray Smith. "The weight room will be huge for us in the next six, seven months."
Lee Williams, in just its second year as a school, put a varsity team on the floor with just freshmen and sophomores. The Volunteers took their lumps but are now focusing on delivering some themselves come next season.
"It was a tough schedule and frustrating at times," Smith said. "We're fine. We lived and have a greater understanding of where we need to get."
The Volunteers had several opportunities to improve on their one-win total, but the maturation of the squad held them back in key moments of close games.
"The biggest thing is the mental part of it that we have to attack," Smith said. "We played people a little tougher by the end, but we just didn't know how to finish. That is more mental than physical."
Sophomore point guard Braxton Burgess had to deal with other teams' older and speedier guards, and that speed wasn't close to what he saw when the Vols played freshmen basketball a season ago.
"It was a lot more difficult then it was my freshmen year, that's for sure," Burgess said. "We weren't moving like we did by the end of this year."
Lee Williams did have a big man in 6-foot-5-inch sophomore Giancarlo Narvarte. Before this season, he was the biggest kid on the floor.
"It's a lot different playing guys your height but who have a bigger build," Narvarte said. "I was able to find out by the end of the season I could beat them with my height and jumping ability. A lot of them tried to push me around."
The physicality of play in the paint may have caught Narvarte by surprise early in the season, but by the end he accepted the challenge.
"It was a lot more aggressive," he said. "That motivated me to get in there and push back."
Smith said he was surprised how difficult it was for his team to score. Lee Williams never broke 50 points this season and scored as few as 11 against Las Vegas Agassi Prep.
"We have to shoot better and get 3-point shooters," the coach said. "That wasn't a strength of our team by far. I took that for granted. We'll get that over the summer."
When next season rolls around, Lee Williams won't have seniors but will have juniors with a year of experience under their belts. The Volunteers expect to do some howling then.
"We have the skill and the talent, we just need to make it work together better," Narvarte said. "We'll be a team that's up there."