The Williamston boys basketball team is on the prowl this season as they look to capture an eighth straight league title in a game against Mason on Feb. 28.
The Williamston Hornets rest in the Capital Area Activities Conference Red and are tied for first place with the Quakers of Lansing Eastern.
The boys’ coach is Tom Lewis, who is in his fourth season as head coach. Lewis said he took over as head coach during a trying time for the team and the Williamston community.
“It was bittersweet because coach Bauer was diagnosed with cancer,” said Lewis. “He called me the day before our first district game, and he was in the hospital.”
That year, the Hornets made it to the Breslin Center for the chance at a state title. This run put them on the map and led coach Lewis to the honor of the 2017 Class B All-State Coach of the Year.
“That was the first full year I had with the team, and we validated our run to Breslin the year before by getting back to the quarterfinals,” said Lewis. “That was a big honor, but more of a program honor, I thought.”
A Young Team
This season is different.
The Williamston team is young. They have two sophomore captains in Mason Docks and Jacob Wallace, along with one senior captain Mitchell Cook.
“It was a big honor when coach Lewis chose me to be a captain, it was a big responsibility, and honestly, a great opportunity,” said Wallace.
Coming into this season, Williamston was the underdog; they lost in the District Championship last year when they anticipated they would go all the way.
“We had a chip on our shoulder at the beginning of this year, we underachieved last year, and I wanted to try and be better this season,” said Docks.
And the Hornets have done just that, winning 16 of 18 games in the season, and scoring more than 50 points per game. Coach Lewis said his team needs to finish strong against Mason on Friday to grab the league championship trophy; then, they can shift the focus toward districts.
The mental side of the game
Lewis said it’s been hard to keep his players level-headed, especially for the younger guys on the team. He wants his players in “attack mode” on the court, always playing with an aggressive mindset.
As they continue to honor Kobe Bryant’s legacy, Williamston’s motto is Mamba mentality.
“The principles of Mamba mentality are important to us; honesty, detachment, optimism, passion, and fearlessness,” said Lewis. “We want to have that mentality every time we go out on the court.”
Wallace said at the beginning of the season, coach Lewis gave the team notecards to write down goals for the season, and there is one overarching consensus among the team.
They want to make another appearance at the Breslin Center and win the State Championship.
“That’s the standard every year to try and get that far and make a run,” said Wallace.
Now that Williamston’s basketball team is doing so well, said Mayor Tammy Gilroy, it’s an added benefit to the town.
“The boys are dominating, and it’s awesome to see,” said Gilroy. “It gives the community a reason to come together and support.”
Williamston will face off at home against Lansing Eastern in the first round of districts on March 9. Earlier in the season, they lost to Eastern 57-50, and this game is a chance for redemption.
“At this point in the season, our mindset is just to win, learn from our mistakes, move on and prepare for the next one,” said Cook.
Lewis said as long as his team is playing its best basketball, they have the chance to achieve great things.
As the boys near the end of the season, win or lose, Cook said there is one characteristic that sets them apart.
“We are competitive, but at the end of the day, we’re a family no matter the outcome,” said Cook.