By Maddie Toles
The New Year brings new hope to the LCC men's basketball team.
After an 88-62 home win against Jackson College on Jan. 9, the Stars' conference record rose to 2-1 (4-9 overall). LCC now controls its own destiny moving forward.
Even though the Stars are five games under .500, it does not have any effect on their chances to win a conference championship.
And, according to LCC Head Coach Mike Ingram, that has always been the goal.
"We just have to win some games," Ingram said. "Our goal was to be 1-0 in the conference, and then 2-0 and I thought we should be 3-0 right now. The first goal is always to win the conference.
"We play, probably, the toughest non-conference schedule in the country at this level. We played seven teams that were ranked in the top 15."
As far as the minute distribution, Ingram said the past few games have been used to work out the kinks in the rotation.
"At Kalamazoo (Valley CC) we started our second (unit) and I think they do a better (job) at setting the table for us," Ingram said. "They are a little more organized. They play a little harder. … They came in and finished that game for us in pretty good fashion."
The win against Kalamazoo Valley CC was followed by a loss to Mid-Michigan College, where Ingram rolled out the same game plan, leading to a different result. Heading into the contest against Jackson College, Ingram decided to slightly change the starting lineup once again.
"We tweaked the (starters) with a couple guys that were (on the bench), put them in and played pretty well," Ingram said. "I thought we competed."
LCC's top performers against Jackson included sophomore Emmanuel Gildo with an 11-point, 11-rebound double-double. Freshman Skylar Wilson had an efficient stat line with 14 points and eight assists.
But sophomore Tony Trice stood out.
Trice scored 24 points, shooting nine of 15 from the field and six of 10 from beyond the arc. Alongside his scoring prowess, Trice added six rebound and four assists.
Ingram said he credits Trice's performance to the Stars' offensive execution.
"I think the one thing that's really hurt our shooters is that we weren't passing the ball," Ingram said. "I think our guards did a better job. Skylar Wilson started at point guard and then when we took him out, we moved Tony to point guard, so we were really passing the ball. Guys were getting up and down the court.
"That's the main thing with all shooters. If they can get open shots, and Tony's a shooter, they have a better chance of scoring than if every time they get the ball (and) someone's in their face."
As a sophomore at a two-year school like LCC, Trice has had to step up as a leader as the season has progressed.
"In the beginning of the season, I wasn't really taking the full responsibility of being a sophomore," Trice said. "But now I'm telling the guys, 'We need to play defense and we need to play hard to win' because I really want to win."
The Stars' next home game is on Saturday, Jan. 19 against Glen Oaks CC at 3 p.m. in the Gannon Gym.