Basketball Begins Again

Sanwi Sarode, Staff Writer

Now that LASA and LBJ have split athletics departments, LASA has been forming its own sports teams to make a name for themselves. A lot of teams under the joint system were made up of mostly LBJ student-athletes, meaning that LASA athletic programs have had to assemble completely new rosters. One of these programs is boys’ basketball.

According to senior and varsity basketball player Beckett Schmeil, the split from LBJ has made forming a new team harder. Previously, LASA basketball players played on the LBJ basketball team, which was mostly composed of LBJ players. Due to the split, LASA only has a few players, and they are now facing the challenge of recruiting new ones.

“A lot of the LBJ guys were super good at basketball, and they’ve been playing it for a really long time, so obviously by splitting sports we’re losing a lot of talent there,” Schmeil said.

According to senior Hobbs McAllister, who has played on the LBJ basketball team since his freshman year, the main thing that the new LASA team is lacking is experience. There are only a few people on the team who have played high school basketball before.

“There are only three guys on the varsity roster, myself included, that have played organized basketball ever before in their life,” McAllister said.

Nevertheless, according to McAllister, the team has been progressing forward well despite the lack of experience. McAllister said that all the guys on the court are ready to learn and work hard.

“Our biggest strengths are the heart and the passion,” McAllister said. “I don’t think I have seen a single person not walk out onto the floor and give 100%. Every minute they play on the floor, they give it everything they have, which is exactly what you want on a basketball team.”

According to head coach Joseph Pendell, the team puts in a lot of effort in daily practices, and the progression of the team has been noticeable.

“I’ve been really pleased with our progress so far,” Pendell said. “We’ve been able to progress every day and be part of the process of getting better. The attitude and the effort have been fantastic, and that’s something that you can’t really coach.”

According to McAllister, a major aspect of being a successful team is good communication and support. The players agree that this is especially important when you have a new team.

“We’re trying to figure the kinks out and communicate as a team,” McAllister said. “But the whole point is that we improve together as one. We’re a brotherhood; we don’t want to put anybody down or dig anyone into a hole.”

According to Pendell, having a good team requires many key parts. Pendell stresses to the team that being tough and persevering through difficulties is a major component of both basketball and life.

“The biggest thing that I’ve always stressed is toughness, being mentally and physically tough, and having the ability to persevere when you’re faced with obstacles,” Pendell said. “I think that’s the biggest part of life, is having that grit to find a way to succeed. That’s what I look for from the kids, whether it’s in school or it’s in basketball, is finding ways to problem-solve collectively and individually to be your best.”

So far, the basketball team has played multiple preseason games to get ready for their first regular-season game in November. According to Schmeil, these matches have been helping the team improve their teamwork and their skills.

“We’re in the fall league right now, so we’re playing some private schools, and all the private schools have been teams for a long time, and they’ve got a bunch of huge players,” Schmeil said. “But I think that’s really good for us. We’ve honestly been getting so much better and progressing really quickly because of those fall league games. We won the first one, and then we played some harder teams and lost by small margins, but every single game we get better, and you can tell because we’re just working on the things that held us back in previous games.”

According to Schmeil, the team feels a lot of pressure to set the bar high for future LASA basketball teams. He stressed the importance of making a positive mark as the school’s first independent boys basketball team.

“I feel like being the first team is always a little bit more difficult because you don’t have as much experience working with that group of players,” Schmeil said, “but I think that everyone on the team would agree that we want to try and make our mark. We’re the first LASA team, so we want to set the level as high as we can because we want the teams that follow in our footsteps to continuously get better and grow and develop as a program.”

The novelty of the team also means that the boys have a clean slate for their first regular-season game on Saturday, Nov. 14, at Pflugerville High School.

“We’re here to play as a team, we’re there to have each other’s backs, and we’re here to win,” McAllister said. “Personally, I think we’re going to shock a lot of people this season.”