COLUMBIA — The Douglass boys basketball team is coming together at exactly the right time.
After playing without several key players throughout the season because a variety of suspensions, the Bulldogs' (8-10) finally have a full roster. With the district tournament just weeks away, every practice and game is increasingly important for the young team.
“We have the most players we’ve ever had,” Bulldogs coach Lynn Allen said about his 14-man roster. “We’re still working on our conditioning.”
Allen said with a smile that he has 14 players, but only 13 uniforms. However, it was a problem he said he didn’t mind.
On Thursday night at their home court at Smithton Middle School, the Bulldogs showed off their full roster in a 73-45 victory over Higbee.
The Bulldogs got off to a quick start, leading 26-17 after the first quarter. Amileo Lawson, who recently returned from a suspension, scored 13 points in the first quarter. He finished with 25 points and five steals.
“Amileo is really coachable,”Allen said.
The Bulldogs sorely missed Lawson’s 24.3 points per game, losing six straight in his absence.
“It feels great getting all of our players back,” Lawson, a junior said. “We got to get a couple more wins before districts.”
Another key player made his return in the Higbee game, senior Steven Sibley. Averaging 13.7 points per game, the Bulldogs need the 6-foot-7 center on the court as much as possible.
“He gives us that presence inside,” Allen said.
Against the Tigers (11-8), Sibley added 10 points and altered a number of the opposing team’s shots. Gary Lewis, who also recently returned from a suspension, scored seven points for the Bulldogs. After their great start, the Bulldogs allowed the Tigers back in the game, leading only 34-28 at halftime.
“In the second quarter, we thought we’d do everything ourselves,” Allen said about his team's selfish play.
With senior Brandon Gleason leading the way, the Bulldogs got back on track in the third quarter, outscoring the Tigers 24-7. Gleason finished with 17 points.
While pouring it on in the fourth quarter, Lawson brought the crowd to its feet with two consecutive no-look passes to Sibley for two easy baskets. The 28-point victory is the Bulldogs fourth largest margin of victory this season.
Finally having an entire team together, Allen hopes the suspension problems are a thing of the past. If so, the Bulldogs need to continue to gel if they want to continue the success they had against the Tigers.
“Every game we play together we learn something,” Allen said. “We’re working on getting better.”