Lutheran West returns just one starter and two others with varsity experience but the Longhorns are as eager to start the season as ever.
Third-year head coach Nick Gallo understands his team has a lot of growing to do this season but his squad has shown the willingness to put in the work and to grow as a unit.
“We have a group of players that are willing to learn,” Gallo said. “We are excited about the opportunity to play. With this being a young group with very little varsity experience, we hope that we grow throughout this season and being playing our best basketball by season’s end.”
The Longhorns won 14 games last season and again they’ll look to perform just as well this season.
To reach their goals, the Longhorns will focus on the fundamentals, protect the basketball and play hard on both ends of the court.
“Our goal is to get better every day and appreciate the opportunity to be teammates, be part of a program, and grow as servant leaders,” Gallo said. “The keys to victory for us will be how sharp we are in our multiple different defenses schemes and our ability to take care of the basketball.”
While Lutheran West is young and lacks varsity experience, the Longhorns do have the potential to pile on the points when shooting the ball well.
“Any one of our players in our rotation can catch and shoot from beyond the 3-point range,” Gallo said. “With the way we play, this can cause many challenges for the teams we play defensively. The better we are able to run hard in transition to lead to open shots the better we will be.”
Senior Tyler DeSimpelare, a 6-foot-1 point guard, is the team’s lone returning starter.
He scored six points with three assists and two steals per game last season on the way to earning honorable mention All-Chagrin Valley Conference honors.
“Tyler is our leader and we will look to him to pour into our young players,” Gallo said. “His ability to see the floor and make the right decisions will be a major part of our team’s success this season.”
Antonio Muniz, a 6-foot senior guard, and Jamie Peterson, a 6-foot-2 junior forward, also saw varsity action last season.
“Antonio has really worked hard the past two seasons to put himself in position to have a great senior year. His growth and maturation as a basketball player is something his peers truly admire. He is an excellent student and comes to the gym every day to get better,” Gallo said. “Jamie is a very versatile player who can play inside-out. We will be relying on Jamie’s ability to offensive and defensive rebound due to our lack of size.”
Josiah McNair, a 6-foot-2 senior forward, and D.J. Robinson, a 6-foot-2 junior guard, are projected to start this winter.
“Josiah is a solid athlete that has natural ability to create second points for his team,” Gallo said. “D.J.’s effort level is first class. He does all the simple things very sharp–cuts, closes out, boxes out. D.J. is one of the best shooters and we will need him to play with confidence throughout the season.”
Juniors Zack Keller, a 5-foot-10 guard, and Jack LaPointe, a 6-foot-2 guard, sophomore Aidan Schultz, a 5-foot-7 guard, and freshman Junior Kambomba, a 6-foot-2 guard, will provide the Longhorns with depth.
“With our lack of experience at the varsity level, we will face adversity throughout this season,” Gallo said. “The message that we have sent our program is just appreciating each moment on the floor together. With the current health crisis, we have spoken at length about appreciating the game of basketball and cherishing the moments to be part of the Lutheran West family.”