Eight seniors return for the Spartans

Coach Brett McDaniel knows the Sumner High boys basketball program has a long hill to climb, but meeting a challenge is the stuff of good coaches and teams.

Coach Brett McDaniel knows the Sumner High boys basketball program has a long hill to climb, but meeting a challenge is the stuff of good coaches and teams.

McDaniel took over the Spartan basketball program after guiding the Bonney Lake boys basketball team into the district playoffs in 2007 and 2008 and the Sumner girls basketball team into district play in 2004.

Now, he intends to create the same magic with the Spartan boys, a program that has not seen a league banner since 1969 and has enjoyed very few victories in recent years.

McDaniel said he kept a small team with “kids who work extremely hard. This is rebuilding. We can’t do anything about what has happened over the last 40 years, but we can do something now.”

The coach demands discipline, which includes players running if they do not come to practice early.

“Our motto is Sumner first, Sumner basketball second,” McDaniel said. “We are going back to square one. We want to win, but we can’t win until we respect the game first. The kids have to understand it is a privilege to play basketball, and they are reacting well.”

Sumner has eight seniors and two juniors on the team. Starting at the wing will be 6-foot-5-inch senior Johnny Greenwood.

“He’s been a leader on the team this year,” McDaniel said.

Twins Lui and Tema Koria, seniors, will be on the floor with Lui at the point and Tema at the power forward spot.

Senior Jordan Bone will also play the wing and 6-foot-5-inch Casey Lafkus will be in the post.

McDaniel said the team has been working at beating the press and trap on offense and will play a “multiple disruptive defense” rotating between man and zone.

“Our goal is to always give ourselves a chance to win,” McDaniel said.

The Spartans are scheduled to host Cascade Christian in a nonleague game Saturday and will travel to North Thurston for a nonleague game Tuesday. Sumner’s first league game will be Dec. 12 at home against Enumclaw. All begin at 7 p.m.

Reach Dennis Box at dbox@courierherald.com or 360-802-8209.

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