WINONA LAKE – Young. That’s the word that perhaps best describes the Lakeland Christian Academy boys basketball team this season.
Everything about the program comes back to it being young. The Cougars upcoming 2014-15 season is just its third as an IHSAA sanctioned program. LCA will have one senior this year and three juniors while welcoming in a first-time head coach.
Chris Hohm takes over the Cougar program after being an assistant with the Rochester High School program for five years. Hohm and his wife both teach for Warsaw Community Schools. After accepting a teaching position at Harrison Elementary, Hohm later caught wind of the LCA coaching position, something he describes as an example of God’s great timing.
A graduate and former player at Greenville College in Illinois, Hohm brings a positive attitude and is ready to help the LCA program reach the next level as an IHSAA school.
The Cougars won just three games last season and graduated leading scorer Chris Silveus (12 points per game). Hohm remains optimistic but knows there is going to be some growing pains along the way.
“I think we can be competitive,” stated Hohm. “Obviously, we have a lot to replace. We lost our top scorer and only won three games but we can still be an aggressive team. I think we can double that win total.
“We play several non-sanctioned schools throughout the season and we beat a few of them. I’d like to see us beat those teams more regularly and start to pick up wins against other IHSAA schools.”
In order to start getting those wins LCA will need to find some new players to lean on this season with the absence of Silveus, who averaged a third of the team’s points last season.
Connor Blum (seven points per game) is the team’s returning leading scorer and co-captain. Hohm mentioned that Blum will be looked upon for scoring this year, but the hope is to not lean on just one player. Jon Harmon and Carter Twombly will be the other two players that Hohm hopes will step up to create a trio of scoring options for the Cougars along with Blum.
Kyle Shuler, the lone senior and co-captain, will also look to be a threat offensively but continue to make his name known on defense.
“I wasn’t the top player last season, I was a contributor,” began Shuler. “I really didn’t do much offensively but made an impact on defense by taking charges and pulling down rebounds. I’d really like to be a better all-around player this season.
“I want to up my averages in scoring and rebounding and remain a solid defender. As a captain I want to be a solid leader for the team as well. I want to make the most of my senior season.”
Shuler talked about the impact that his new coach has had on the team so far. The senior said that Hohm has been very good at building individual relationships with the players and has helped team chemistry a lot by having weekly devotionals.
A good bond will be key for a team that will feature three freshman on the varsity roster. Two of those freshmen, Josh McDaniel and Noah Twombly, will hear their names called in the starting lineup for the Cougars in Tuesday’s season opener.
The Cougars will have their first five games played in the comfort of their home gym. LCA does not go on the road until December 20 for a tournament at Bethany Christian. LCA will start its season Tuesday night at home against Caston. Play begins a 7 p.m.