By Brodee Gillam
The new year has been good to the LCC men's basketball.
Not only did Head Coach Mike Ingram hit 600 wins, but the Stars have won six games in a row and eight of 10 games played in 2019.
LCC's latest win was an overtime victory over Mid Michigan College, 97-93. The Stars overall record improved to 10-10. They are now 8-2 in the MCCAA West, just one game behind Grand Rapids Community College for first in the conference, as of Feb. 8.
This has allowed LCC to be in control of its own destiny heading into the home stretch of the regular season and into the postseason.
Sophomore Donquall Jackson said he knows that, and the team is preparing for that pressure.
"We're practicing for (the postseason) and I think we'll be ready," Jackson said. "We definitely want to finish at the top of the conference, so GRCC is definitely on our mind. But we got to take it one game at a time, and when we get to them we're going to handle business."
According to Ingram, defense has been the key to this six-game winning streak.
"I've been telling the guys all year long, that people have always thought we are a great offensive team here," Ingram said. "We lost a game 57-48. We've had some games where we only scored 55-60 points. I told them you're going to be better if you play defense.
"Now they know that we are a better scoring team when we are playing (both ends)," Ingram said. "Right now things are going well. I hope they continue to go well. I don't want (us) to get ahead of (ourselves)."
Within this successful stretch, LCC has been led by many different Stars. Against Mid Michigan, it was Jackson and freshman Tevin Taylor (who is averaging 16.5 points during this winning streak).
Taylor scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for a double-double against the Lakers.
Jackson put up 24 points on just 14 shots and dealt five assists.
As a sophomore Jackson has had to step up as a leader, but he has welcomed the pressure.
"I think guys look for me to be a leader, to push other guys and to make sure everything is running well," Jackson said. "It helps that I am the point guard and the leader on the court. I think I'm stepping into that role."
Alongside the disappointing 2-8 start to the season, the human aspects of the team were not clicking. Ingram said that change has made as big of a difference as anything on the court.
"Earlier in the year, I'd tell a joke (and) nobody would laugh," Ingram said. "Now I say something and everyone's laughing … Just small things like that have helped us. Me listening to them a little more has really helped the guys.
"I've been telling people that seen us play earlier (in the year), we're not that team anymore. Now we're a team that I have a lot of confidence in."