Wednesday, October 26, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Lighthouse after state in first year

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Lighthouse Charter Wolves have high expectations for this basketball season, the first one in which the school will be eligible to compete as an officially sanctioned team.

The Wolves move up to Class 2A this season, and though they lose one key starter, they have enough returning to go with some key additions, that the state’s highest prize is their final goal.

“We’re moving up, we aren’t even worried about it,” said Lighthouse coach Kelvin Parker. “Conferences are all messed up, mixing 1A and 2A. None of that matters to us. We won’t be satisfied unless we win the whole thing.”

The returning starters include 6-foot-5 senior Zack Bobo, 6-foot-3 guard/forward Cameron Shaffer, 5-8 point guard Chris Mims and 6-3 forward Courtney Jefferson. Senior Dior Cox and junior Jakalon Simuel also saw ample playing time last season.

Even with all that experience returning, the Wolves’ offense will revolve around two freshmen that led the team in scoring in its unofficial exhibition game last week.

Gerald Doakes is one of the highest rated prospects in his class in the entire state. The 6-2 guard, Parker says, is a pure scorer.

“He can flat fill it up,” Parker said. “We’re working on his defense. He doesn’t play too much defense right now, but you got to let a kid like that do what he can do. The defense will come along.”

Doakes scored 28 in last week’s 83-50 win over the Saline County Home School team. The second-leading scorer was another freshman, Davonte Davis, who dropped in 18 points.

“We have a lot of guys that can score,” Parker said. “Bobo, Shaffer and Mims probably all led us in scoring at times last season. Doakes will probably lead us most games this year, but it’s not like you’ll just be able to shut him down and you got us beat. That’s why I’m so optimistic about this team.”

Eric Childs is a junior who has worked himself into the starting rotation this season, and 6-foot-4 McClellan transfer Troy Spivey adds even more athleticism to the squad.

“I don’t really say we have a starting five,” Parker said. “I have about 10 guys I feel like are starters. They know they’ve got to practice to earn that time in a game.”

Bobo averaged a double-double last season while Mims and Shaffer scored near or above 20 several times.

The Wolves were not eligible for postseason in Class 1A last year, but did put together a good season for as long as it lasted. After Christmas when other teams began their conference schedule, the Jacksonville Lighthouse Charter School didn’t have many more games, but it did win first place at the Conway Christian tournament, lost a competitive game to Jacksonville High and beat North Pulaski in the Red Devil Classic, and also beat Class 6A Russellville in a tournament last December.

The Wolves are back in the Jacksonville tournament this year, and slated to take on defending Class 7A state champion Cabot in the first game Dec. 19.

“I told the kids about that game and they’re pumped,” Parker said. “They feel like they can compete with anybody. If we’ll get our defense going like we need to, and that’s what we’ve been working on, I think we can, too.” JLCS’ first official game is this Friday at Pangburn.