L.C. Bird enjoyed another wildly successful season, finishing with 20 wins and falling in the state quarterfinals to Maury, 50-42. The state tournament appearance was the program’s third in fourth years to go with a state championship in 2017.
Coach Troy Manns, in his 14th year coaching varsity basketball and his 10th at L.C. Bird, will attempt to reload a roster that lost six student-athletes now playing basketball at the collegiate level.
Departed players: Jamon Battle, Mack Burgett, Lance Monteiro, Corbin Slayton, Maliek Conaway, Everette Rivers.
Battle is at Division I UNC Asheville, where is he already contributing as a freshman. Burgett and Monteiro went Division II, to Anderson University and USC Aiken, respectively. Slayton stayed local, suiting up for Richard Bland college. Conaway is at Allegheny College, and Rivers at Ferrum College.
Returning players: Tyler Henderson is the team’s unquestioned leader, and he is entering his senior season. The player who will man point guard for the Skyhawks is the most experienced on the roster.
Backcourt: Henderson is a four-year varsity player at one of the top basketball programs in the state. An excellent ball handler and floor general, he also has a scoring touch. This is the obvious strength of the guard rotation. Tykee Peterson and Promyse Ferguson provide youth, but, according to Manns, are “two juniors who are ready to contribute at the varsity level.”
Frontcourt: Keyontae Lewis highlights a frontcourt that will be young during the 2019-20 season. A sophomore, Lewis is long and athletic at 6-6. Manns and his staff see great potential in Lewis and another two “bigs” who have shown up well at practice and in scrimmages.
Overall, L.C. Bird’s program has been one of the best and most consistent in the state during Manns’s 10-year tenure. Signatures of the program have been balanced scoring, strong team defense , and discipline.
“Defense and unselfish offensive play have been the keys to our success year in and year out,” Manns said. “We will continue to improve each game and compete at a very high level as we do every year.”
Despite a younger roster, perhaps the youngest Manns has seen, the expectations for the program remain the same.
“We want to compete at a high level and make a push where we are playing our best basketball at the end of the season,” said Manns.