There was a time late last season that Lakeland boys basketball coach Dave Stockwell thought about getting out of coaching.
This, even as Lakeland was in the midst of one of its better seasons in years. Stockwell, 63, thought that if he couldn’t get the team to state he couldn’t get any team to state. And he’s in the twilight of his career.
Yet as well as Lakeland was playing, a state tournament drought hung over the school like a curse.
“If you can’t get a team like that to state, what the hell am I doing here,” Stockwell said.
Lakeland broke through. So Stockwell committed to coaching another year.
He faced a monumental rebuilding job this season. No starters returned and the lone player with significant varsity experience was Andrew Knight, the first player off the bench a year ago.
So if you’d told Stockwell at the start of the season that he’d be taking a team to state for a second straight year, he might have choked laughing so hard.
Forgive Stockwell if he can’t wipe the smile off his face this week. He’s taking a team with a below .500 record to state in a season where he’s arguably done the best coaching job of his career.
Lakeland (10-12) takes on Burley (16-8) in a State 4A opener Thursday at Borah High School in Boise.
“I’m not going to lie to you. I thought it could be a long year,” Stockwell said.
A pair of sophomores – Andrew’s younger brother, Dylan, and Kaden Davis – grew into their roles as point guard and shooting guard. A pair of seniors who sat on the bench last year – Forest Zubaly and Dan McDevitt – developed into solid role players.
Dylan Knight had to take over a position manned for four years by Tyrel Derrick. Not an easy job.
“We put a lot of pressure on Dylan following in Tyrel’s footsteps,” Stockwell said. “That’s pretty dang tough for a 15-year-old. As the season progressed he grew quite a bit in a number of areas, particularly in ball handling and decision making. He understood what we wanted game in and game out.”
Lakeland won’t scare anybody at state. And that’s just fine with Stockwell.
“I’ve had to coach my butt off this year,” Stockwell said. “I probably have more pride in this team than I have with teams that had better records. Nobody gave me a shot with this team.”
3A: Kellogg (18-4) returns for a third straight year. The Wildcats open against Parma (13-11) at Meridian High School.
2A: St. Maries (20-3) returns and takes on Soda Springs (18-8) at Capital High School in Boise.
1A Division II: In its first year as a sanctioned team, Genesis Prep (18-4) of Post Falls faces Rockland (15-7) at Caldwell High School.
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