PUMPKIN CENTER – While the North Lincoln basketball team lost last year’s conference Player of the Year, the Knights could be more challenging to defend this season with their multitude of scoring options.
Amid its 5-3 start to the season, North boasts five players averaging between 8.5 and 13.6 points per game. It’s a result of third-year coach Dennis Frye’s helter-skelter offense that relies on quickly pushing the ball upcourt and knocking down jump shots.
“I feel like a lot of teams are underestimating us,” Frye said.
There’s no shot clock, but the Knights wouldn’t be worried about committing violations.
The Knights made history last season when they won the South Fork conference championship and advanced to the state semifinals. That squad had the two-headed monster in the backcourt in Cole Seagle and Jack Carter, scoring a combined 40 points per game.
This year, it’s about much more for a group that served complimentary roles on the 15-3 team from a year ago. Jake Dedmon has increased his scoring from 4.3 a year ago to 13.6 while leading the team in 3-point shooting. Fellow senior Jack Waggoner has gone from 7.1 to 12.
Still having guys that know his system made it a no-brainer for Frye to maintain playing styles.
“We had no intention of changing our style,” Frye said. “(Those) two and several others have been running this for several years, and they’ve been super hungry. Jake and Jack played a crucial role in what we did. Yes, we lost that senior class, but I almost feel like this team can be better since there are more options. We have five or six kids who can score 10-plus points.”
In addition to Demon and Waggoner, junior newcomer Reed King is averaging double-figures, and the Knights have added 6-foot-5 freshman Kellen Karr, who’s just shy of a double-double per game.
Not only can all members of the starting five emerge as a game-leading scorer, but they’re all capable beyond the arc – even Karr.
“It’s a huge part of my game,” Dedmon said. “I’ve been working on it my whole life. Our entire team can shoot the ball. There’s not one person in the court I don’t have trust in making one.”
North got to show off its offensive potential in the season opener against Lincoln Charter. Although they fell to the Eagles 90-84, Frye thought it was still beneficial.
“I wasn’t sure we could score that many points with them,” he said. “The kids got into their game. That’s the way we want to play every night. Even though we gave up 90 points, the kids got into a flow. I felt like that game really prepared us for the conference. I just hate it was so early in the season.”
The Knights got off to a 1-1 start in their first season in the Western Foothills 3A conference, recently falling to Hickory 70-64 Dec. 17. The team was held to just 25 points through three quarters, but erupted for 29 in the fourth quarter for a furious comeback that fell short.
To maintain the success of last season, Frye believes it’s about more than the Xs and Os.
“When this group is having fun, they’re playing well,” he said.
Up next: North Lincoln will play in the holiday tournament at Lincolnton High School, Dec. 28-30.