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Johnson era begins at North

The North Lincoln Knights have already matched their season win total from last year with their 77-74 seasoning opening win versus West Lincoln.
Head coach David Johnson hopes that win will serve as a springboard to a season of success. The Knights have six returnees: Kenny Bethea, Alex Loftin, Trishtan Johnson, Miquan Smith, Kyle Baker and Peyton Brady.
Each player does not want to endure the type of 1-20 season they posted a year ago. While Johnson is in search of his team’s identity, he believes Bethea will be his leader.
“As a new team getting started, we’re still trying to find our leaders, but I expect Kenny to step into that role,” he said.
Two players who he believes could have a big impact on his team are forward Miquan Smith and guard Trishtan Johnson. The latter of which poured in 23 in his first game of his junior year.
“Both of them have tremendously improved from the first day of practice. They have the potential to have a great impact on our team,” Johnson said.
The Knights’ starters are Loftin, Johnson, Smith, Bethea and Brady. While they will log the most minutes, Johnson feels he has quality depth coming off the bench.
“I see David Ward as he gets better, as well as Trey Whiteside to make a difference off the bench. Lesharion will add a lot of speed and athleticism especially with us playing up tempo.”
Loftin adds a quality ballhandler and perimeter shooter to the team. His outside shooting already has made a big impact with a momentum-changing three against the Rebels.
“Alex has also shown a lot of leadership, helped direct the plays and adds some offensive outside shooting,” Johnson said.
TJ Skidmore and Trent Hopkins could see some varsity time as the season progresses.
Since the Knights don’t have a particularly big team, they will rely more on speed and quickness. The coach feels they have both.
“We don’t have a lot of height, but we’re very athletic and versatile. We’re going to have to take advantage of our speed and athleticism, instead of just shooting ability and height,” he said.
Winning the first game of the season was big especially as far as their attitude Johnson said.
“First off, with us trying to teach the boys a new style of play to win their first game was a huge momentum builder. They came off very positive and confident.”
It’s not only a learning curve for the team, but for Johnson as well after leaving Lincolnton’s women program for North. How has that adjustment gone?
“I think it’s gone well. We expect a lot of the kids. We’re working hard on our team work, but overall they’ve listened well and done what I’ve asked of them. Within the first two weeks, I’ve seen improvement already.”

by John Mark Brooks

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