The Leonia Lions Boys Basketball team has fought their way to four wins out of thirteen games thus far this season. The team, led by seniors Charles Simons, Wakimba Davenport, and captain Nikko McDonald, looks to make a late season run in an attempt to qualify for the state tournament.
The highlight of the boys’ season thus far came in a big win over Harrison. With time expiring in the fourth quarter, Leonia had the ball. Coach Orlowski called a timeout to go over the play: either isolation for McDonald, or isolation for Simons. “We knew we had to isolate one of our two best scoring options,” said Coach Orlowski. “We just wanted to make sure they didn’t know who we were going to.” With the clock running down, and the game on the line, the coach put the ball in his captain’s hands and let him finish what he had started. He put up the shot just as the buzzer sounded, and “everything just seemed to go in slow motion,” said McDonald. “I watched the ball leave my hands and it seemed like ten minutes passed before the ball even reached the hoop.” The ball fell into the net, and “there was nothing to do but celebrate.”
The basketball team may have been hindered by the large graduating class from last year’s seniors. Of this year’s starting lineup, only McDonald and Simons have had real varsity playing time. The other three: Taj Huggins, Johnny Leon, and Adeyemi Da Silva are all underclassmen, and only Taj has seen a varsity minute prior to this season. In addition to the lack of experience was Simons’ knee injury that kept him sidelined the first month of the season. Overall, even with a late push, this season has been about developing young talent, with multiple sophomores seeing varsity playing time, and only three seniors on the roster. Coach Orlowski closed with saying, “We don’t want to call it a rebuilding year, but we are certainly focused on developing young talent for future seasons.”