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Mansfield Lake Ridge High School's Eagle Media Website

Eagle Media

Mansfield Lake Ridge High School's Eagle Media Website

Eagle Media

Mansfield Lake Ridge High School's Eagle Media Website

Eagle Media

StateRidge; Basketball made History by Reaching the Semifinals

StateRidge%3B+Basketball+made+History+by+Reaching+the+Semifinals
Dominic Plata

The 2023-2024 basketball season was anything but a failure. For the first time in the history of Lake Ridge, the boy’s varsity basketball team earned admiration from the students and staff by making it to the state tournament. Taking the victory from winning the final round of the Region 2 6A playoff tournament, they headed off to San Antonio to play against Plano East High School, which was ranked number three in national rankings for boys high school varsity basketball. Unfortunately, the Eagles lost, but their effort wasn’t in vain as they broke a new record. 

The Eagles improved from the previous season with the addition of new people. The new head coach, Cornelius Mitchell, along with two players, moved from Legacy to Lake Ridge for the 2023-2024 season. Amir McMillian,12, and Ahmare Rose,12, moved to get back to their home community to enjoy their senior year.

“Ahmare and I moved because of two reasons. One, we wanted to spend our final year with our coach who has been like a father to us. We attended middle school in this community before we left. We thought it was a good idea to come back and enjoy our senior year here,” said McMillian. “We just wanted to come back to our home community, play our last year of high school basketball, and break a new record if possible.”

After seven years as head coach of the Broncos, Mitchell decided to coach at Legacy’s sister school. Mitchell had a history of going to a school and achieving feats never seen before, having the most season wins under his belt. Mitchell hoped to achieve the same level of success for the Eagles

“I moved because of my family. My wife works here, and my daughter is going to come to school here. We live in this community,” Mitchell said. “I think it’s just a perfect opportunity where I get to live, work, and our kids go to school in the same community.”

Being the first set of people to achieve this greatness came with a lot of pride and happiness for the team. Compared to the previous seasons where the players struggled to make it out of the playoffs, this season fueled them with great pride. Daelyn Lewis, 12, understood the struggles they faced during playoff season and was overwhelmed with joy when they made it to the next level.

“It feels amazing. It’s something that has never happened in our school. It feels wonderful to be among the team that broke that record. These past four years at Lake Ridge, it’s been a struggle to make a run in the playoffs,” Lewis said. “It was hard to make a name for ourselves and have an opportunity to do that and my senior year is amazing.”

While Mitchell was able to lead the team to the state tournament, he did not coach the Eagles alone. Ezenwa Nwakamma, 11, and Lewis looked up to the entire coaching staff as well as their new teammates.

“My biggest inspiration was being pushed by Coach Blackburn. He always stays in my ear to never give up,” Lewis said. “He has a positive mindset for things, and

 brings good energy to practice, and games.

“Ahmare was my biggest inspiration throughout this season. He helps motivate me during practice. Whenever I’m messing up, he pulls me to the side, finds out what’s wrong, and tries to fix it,” Nwakamma said. “

It felt like brotherly love and I would like to show that kind of love to my younger teammates when I become a senior.”

  The journey towards greatness wasn’t smooth at the beginning. The group experienced some ups and downs, especially with the new faces this season. Abisayooluwa Gbakinro, 11, experienced a lot of bumpy rides from the beginning of the gaming period till the end. However, together with his teammates, he was able to overcome it. 

“At the beginning of the season, there were a lot of hardships. We had a lot of difficult games this year, but we’re still strong.  We played together and didn’t leave any player behind,” Gbakinro said. “We knew as a team that everyone had a different approach to doing things. Everyone’s personality was different, but we had one common goal, which was making it to the state.

The four coaches had different methods of teaching the young players. They tried to find the best technique that could work for their team and take them higher than they expected. Mitchell believed that his approach is peculiar because he leaves no kid behind no matter their skill level. 

“I’m probably more adaptive and more innovative in my approach. I’m willing to try any and everything possible to reach a kid. Whereas some of the coaches may look at doing things one way, their way. If it doesn’t work, then they may give up on a kid. In my approach, I couldn’t give up on a kid,” Mitchell said. “I just tried to find another approach to reach that kid, and I’m adaptive and okay with changing my approach to reach kids.”

As the season came to an end, the players experienced a lot of moments that they won’t forget for a long time. One of the notable moments that the team won’t forget was their third game against Waxahachie High School. Despite the Ea

gles reaching further than the Indians, Waxahachie led the season record 2-1.

“I think the thi

rd time we played Waxahachie was a memorable game for me. The first two times we lost, but the third time we beat them. It was like we were prepared and it was a playoff game,” Gbakinro said. “It brought out the best of us and the fans who were there to support us made it better. In the first game we played aga

inst them, we were up by twenty but we ended up losing by seven. In the second one, we were up by fifteen and ended up losing by six. In the third round, we ended up being the winner.” 

For the first time since the opening of Lake Ridge, the boy’s basketball team made it to the State tournament. The journey wasn’t an easy one, players had to work together to achieve one common goal and got motivated through one another. The coaches ensured no athlete was left behind, which inspired the group. Despite their loss and failure to reach the state championship, the Eagles were able to leave their mark on school history and are setting a foundation for future seasons’ success.

 

About the Contributors
Precious Nwokolo
Precious Nwokolo, ENN Staff
Dominic Plata
Dominic Plata, President & Editor in Chief - Yearbook