Lindbergh High boys’ basketball coach optimistic about 2006-2007 season

By STEPHEN GLOVER

For the past several years, the Lindbergh High School boys’ basketball team has been knocking on the door of a district championship, and the 2006-2007 season just may be the year that the Flyers advance to the Class 5 state playoffs.

The Flyers’ new district is comprised of Lindbergh, Mehlville, Northwest, Oakville and Rockwood Summit. That eliminates Vianney, which had won five consecutive district championships and advanced to the state semifinal last season.

So with four returning starters from last season’s squad that went 18-10 and 7-1 in the Suburban West Conference, Lindbergh head coach Jason Wolfard is expecting the Flyers to be even better than last year.

“We should be better than we were last year,” Wolfard told the Call. “Everyone we have is either a junior or a senior, so the experience is there.”

Senior forward Tyler Kiel returns as the Flyers’ leading scoring threat this year after averaging 12.9 points and 7.2 rebounds a game last season. Kiel also led the Flyers in steals (65) and blocked shots (18) while also recording 83 assists.

“We’re really expecting him to be able to take over games at times,” Wolfard said. “He’s really bulked up and is one of the strongest guys on the team.”

Another senior forward that will be a scoring threat for the Flyers is Robby Meeh, who averaged 11 points and 6.3 rebounds a game last season. Meeh also put together 35 assists, 33 steals and 10 blocked shots for the Flyers.

“Robby knows what we expect from him,” Wolfard said. “He wants to play in college, so he’s got to learn to play on the perimeter more.”

The Flyers’ third returning player to score in double figures last season was senior guard Robert Williams, who averaged 10.3 points and 2.1 rebounds a game. Williams nailed 57 shots from three-point range while also recording 45 assists and 33 steals last year.

“Robert has a great scorer’s mentality and if he could concentrate more on his defense, he could develop into a great player,” Wolfard said. “He really spent a lot of time in the weight room during the off-season and is a lot stronger this year.”

One player whom Wolfard is interested in seeing this season is senior guard Ben Harmon, who suffered a season-ending injury in the first game of the 2005-2006 campaign.

“Ben got injured in the first game and was out for the season,” Wolfard said. “He’s been real hungry to gain back what he lost last year.”

The Flyers also will rely on seniors Drake Smith, Tremeiko Drake and Odell Johnson to be integral parts to the success of this season’s team.

Smith averaged 2.9 points and 2.4 rebounds a game last season while also recording 19 assists, 29 steals and eight blocked shots. The senior point guard is getting a lot of strong compliments from the Flyers coaching staff before the season has even started.

“Drake’s actually going to play point guard, and we like what’s he’s been able to accomplish,” Wolfard said. “Drake really took the position on, and I’m really excited with some of the things he can do at that position.”

Drake averaged 1.5 points and 1.2 rebounds over 19 games last season, but Wolfard believes that a year of experience at the varsity level will result in solid dividends this season.

“Tremeiko’s been looking really good these last few weeks,” Wolfard said. “He’s got a little bit of experience under his belt and has a real soft touch around the basket.”

Johnson also saw limited action last season as he averaged 0.9 points and 0.5 rebounds a game. Wolfard expects the senior guard to be a force off the bench this season.

“Odell’s a heck of an athlete,” Wolfard said. “I think he can really help us off the bench this year, and if he can give us three to four points a game, I’d be incredibly happy with that.”

The Flyers open the season at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Glendale Senior High School in Springfield. Glendale was 22-6 last season and won the Class 5, District 7 championship.

“We just wanted to do something different this season,” Wolfard said. “It’s a little mini trip that’s going to be a good test for us because they’re pretty good.”