In 2015, Gonzaga made a run to capture the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference boys basketball championship. After a season of retooling, the Eagles feel poised to have another go.
“Our goal is to win the championship first and foremost,” said senior forward Eddie Scott. “We have a lot of the same returners and have had really good chemistry from the start of the season.”
So far this winter, the Eagles have raced out to an 11-2 record. In WCAC play, Gonzaga has a 3-0 mark including a 61-57 triumph over St. John’s on Thursday night at the Eagles’ Carmody Center.
Through its hot start, Gonzaga has had a balanced roster, with its top five players all averaging at least 7.4 points per game.
“Any night any of us can get buckets,” said Scott. “We have threats from every position, so everybody has to guard every position. It’s just a matter of who will go off and who will follow up every night.”
Despite the team’s star power, the Eagles will go where senior point guard Chris Lykes leads them. The 5-foot-7-inch-tall guard may be one of the smallest players on the floor night in and night out, but last year’s WCAC player of the year makes one of the biggest impacts.
“He was a leader even as a freshman for us,” said Eagles coach Steve Turner. “He just continues to grow into that role. This year as a senior he is on a mission to win a championship. He keeps the guys in line in terms of what we want from the team.”
“This year as a senior he is on a mission to win a championship. He keeps the guys in line in terms of what we want from the team.”
While Lykes orchestrates the team’s offense, he has plenty of shooters to feed the ball to, including junior guard Prentiss Hubb and Scott, who are averaging 14.8 and 9.7 points per game respectively this season.
“It’s fun. It’s the best of both worlds,” said Lykes, who averages 19.7 points per game. “You have guys that have your back. It’s not stressful. The guys are going to find me and I’m going to find them. There is no ‘I’ in this team. There is no individual basketball here.”
The Eagles also get a boost from junior forward Myles Dread, who like Scott and Hubb has a long frame that makes him a threat in the post but also a strong outside shot.
Gonzaga’s ability to play with its post players on the perimeter has Lykes seeing a team that could mirror the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, punishing opponents with bigs who can shoot.
“You can compare us to Golden State in the open floor,” Lykes said. “We play together, we can shoot threes, we can drive and kick. We have a really athletic team and a versatile team.”
While the Eagles’ top five are juniors and seniors, they also have a talented pair of sophomore guards — Anwar Gill and Josh Watts — who have added depth.
“They push us in practice,” Lykes said. “They play hard and give us 100 percent. They play with passion, and it’s something we need on the team this year and for next year.”
Turner has noticed his players sharing the spotlight and spoils, rather than one player trying to light up the scoreboard. That mentality has bonded the team as it looks to capture the WCAC title and its first D.C. State Athletic Association crown.
“They are playing for each other. They’re a really unselfish group,” said Turner. “Anybody can be our leading scorer on any given night. They are willing to sacrifice personal accolades for us to be successful.”
The Eagles will be back in action on Martin Luther King Jr. Day when they travel to play Paul VI at 7:30 p.m.