After graduating several members from last year’s squad, the Banks County Leopard basketball team had new faces play during the summer action in the month of June.
Some, though, got even more playing time when injuries struck some of the team including the team leader Carl Cleveland. When it comes to the group as a whole, and from what head coach Mike Cleveland saw with the adversity, it’s “as good a group” as he has had at BC.
“The chemistry of this group is really good,” Cleveland said. “I think by Carl being out it actually gave some more guys the opportunity to step up and feel that pressure in game-like situations.
“I think in the long run (it was) a good thing for those guys.”
Cleveland said the team knows what it has with Carl. With him out, Pierce Martin was able to step up into the leadership role.
“He had to be the leader on the floor,” Cleveland said. “Couldn’t turn around and just rely on Carl being there, so I think in the long run it was, probably, a positive for us.”
Sawyer Pace also returned to the basketball team this summer after a year hiatus.
“He shot the ball incredible,” Cleveland said. “This whole team shot the ball incredible this summer.
“For us, where we’re always seeing double-teams, sometimes triple-teams, that’s important. I think next year we can put guys on the floor around Carl, where if you send a double-team, we can make you pay by just being a really good shooting team. This could be the best shooting we’ve had since I’ve been here.”
Mason Marlow, Gavin Brown and Tyler Thomas were among those who saw the court even more.
Another player who’s returning for the Leopards and had a good summer, according to Cleveland, is Dakota Orr. Orr, a rising junior, will help control the paint for the Leopards both on offense and defense.
“He did a great job this summer rebounding the ball and playing defense,” Cleveland said.