Itâ€™s been a difficult basketball season for the West Lincoln Rebels boys team.
The Rebels defeated Lincoln Charter in the third game of the season in nonconference play, and have since then found themselves on the wrong end of 18 straight games, and have yet to win a conference game.
Senior Kyle Wyatt has been through all of those games, and has consistently put up big numbers.
In 21 regular season games, heâ€™s scored in single digits only twice, and is 51 points away from hitting the 1,000th point of his high school career.
â€œThatâ€™s been the elephant in the room for a while, those 1,000 points, but heâ€™s doing what he can for the team,â€ West Lincoln head coach Karl Sain said.
â€œSometimes that involves assists, and heâ€™s second on the team in steals and leads the team in rebounds. He hits so many different categories. Scoring is the one that makes the papers, but he contributes for us in so many different ways.â€
Wyatt, a four-year starter for the varsity Rebels, is a proven leader on the team as the only athlete that had played in a varsity game before the start of the 2011-2012 season. Through the entirety of his high school career, Wyatt has averaged 10.5 points per game, 4.6 rebounds per game and 1.4 assists per game. His scoring has peaked this year, with 18.5 points per game, while his rebounds have lowered slightly to 115 from his 145 rebounds his junior year.
â€œItâ€™s been tough because we have a bunch of young guys this year,â€ Wyatt said. â€œI always try to encourage them, and tell them we just have to go out there and do the things Coach tells us to do to the best of our ability. When weâ€™re down by 10 or 15 we have to keep playing hard and things will happen.â€
Wyatt sent the Rebelsâ€™ game against Bessemer City on Friday into overtime, but West Lincoln eventually fell 66-61. Despite the loss, Fridayâ€™s game was a dramatic improvement over the first time the two teams met, when the Rebels lost by 22 points.
â€œThat was the best weâ€™ve played all year,â€ Wyatt said. â€œThe first time we played Bessemer City was not like it was the second time. Even against North Lincoln we got beat, but we were right there with them the second time. Throughout the course of the season weâ€™ve played better as a team, which is something thatâ€™s going to happen with such a young team.â€
Sain said he hopes Wyattâ€™s leadership and work ethic will help the younger West Lincoln players see what it takes to perform at a high level.
â€œHe has a wealth of experience, and with that experience of being in different situations, there have been a lot of opportunities for the kids to lean on him,â€ Sain said. â€œThere have been situations where heâ€™s been able to get the kids into a team huddle to tell them what theyâ€™re up against before a game. Itâ€™s different to hear it from the mouth of a player instead of the mouth of a coach, it hits home more.â€
Sain said Wyatt was one of the top five â€œworkout warriorsâ€ heâ€™s seen in his coaching career.
â€œIt boils down to putting in the work and being a better player,â€ Sain said. â€œA lot of nights after games weâ€™ll stick around and shoot, and heâ€™s always the last one to leave. Iâ€™m hoping that the team will see the work heâ€™s done in the offseason that that it will rub off on them.â€