LaFayette flashes young potential in exhibition against Beulah

Published 6:04 pm Thursday, June 13, 2024

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LaFayette and Beulah faced off on the hardwood on Thursday for a playdate at LaFayette High School. The Bulldogs came out on top in the showdown 74-56. 

Thursday was a display of how good the Bulldogs could be next season. LaFayette led by 26 at halftime, and the Bulldogs have won 11 straight playdates this summer. 

LaFayette lost its three top scorers from last season in Tae Story, Branaviyun Story and Deaundra Vines. Still, the Bulldogs have started to come together over the last few weeks. 

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“We’re starting to click,” LaFayette coach Chase Lewis said. “We’re young in all the right places. Even our veteran guys, who have to step into a different role from last year, are pretty good. I like how we’ve kind of found a connection. We’ve just got to fine-tune on some basic skills. Our basic skills are still a little off.” 

The Bulldogs were led in the exhibition by Jordan Johnson. Johnson finished with 29 points and was followed by Emillion Huguley with 10 points. Beulah returned its leading scorer last season, Demarion Foreman, and he led the way with 22 points on Thursday. Cam Baker followed Foreman with 10 points. 

Johnson showed flashes last season for LaFayette, but he did not have a consistent role on the team. On Thursday, Johnson once again flashed his potential and Lewis expects big things from him moving forward. 

“He’s growing. He’s in the middle of growing right now,” Lewis said. “If he does the right thing and continues to grow, he can actually have a special year. I don’t think he knows how special his year could be. I think once it clicks for him…it’ll help this team soar a little bit higher.” 

LaFayette’s lineup is filled with young talent. Cam Thomas and Jayden Thomason both started last season as a sophomore and freshman respectively. Those two along with several other underclassmen could make the Bulldogs an intriguing team for the next few years. 

“I love it,” Lewis said. “I start two sophomores, two juniors and one senior. For the next couple of years, my team is kind of in place. They’re only going to grow. I think Jayden Thomason is going to get taller and bigger. I think Kemare Harrington is going to get taller and bigger. Emillion Huguley is going to get taller and bigger as well. Those pieces and the way they run the floor, I feel pretty good about it.” 

The Bulldogs excelled in fastbreak opportunities on Thursday as they came away with several steals and quick buckets. 

Fastbreak opportunities have been the name of the game for LaFayette during Lewis’ tenure, but the conditioning of the team this early in the process is overwhelming for most other schools. 

“That’s all we do. We run,” Lewis said. “That’s our thing. We’re going to have to run. We’re going to improve on our shooting. Until that happens, we’re going to have to run, stay in front of people and be aggressive.” 

Lewis has scheduled a boatload of playdates with local schools this summer. The Bulldogs have already faced Valley, Chambers Academy, Beulah and several other schools in surrounding areas. 

The focus during the offseason for Lewis is the improvement of his team, but he is also focused on building up the game in the area. He believes that it is mutually beneficial with how competitive teams in the area can be. Lewis has seen how the comradery can be from his time coaching in the Dothan area, and he wants that to translate to East Alabama. 

“We’re more family-knit towards the wiregrass area. We all work together pretty well,” Lewis said. “Over here it’s not as close as it is in the wiregrass area. It’s just something I learned from my Dothan area days of everybody working together to get better. I think comradery is not one of the strongest points here in East Alabama. I just want to promote the game.”