No two days are alike for the Lahser varsity boys basketball team.
For the Knights coaching staff, every practice and game present new teaching opportunities and challenges. Lahser (3-1) has one of the youngest teams in the entire Oakland Activities Association with two starting sophomores.
There are growing pains, but there’s also a high ceiling for a team that finished with an overall record of 8-13 last season.
"Everyday is growth," assistant coach Mark Rogers said. "What’s exciting about this team is that there is a lot of talent. It’s raw and we’re molding it, but we are coming together both individually and collectively."
That talent includes sophomores Armand Cartwright and Yante Maten.
Cartwright, the team’s point guard, is coming off a freshman season where he averaged 12 points and three assists a game. His athleticism is impressive and he is a constant threat to drive to the basket with his quick first step.
He’s also quickly growing into his role as floor general for the Knights.
"My goal is being a leader on the floor, getting everyone involved," Cartwright said. "I want everyone on the floor to be involved, not just one player. I want to be a leader on the floor."
One target that will be hard for the guard to miss is Maten. Over the first month of the season, the 6-foot-6 center is already showing why he will be an impact player for Lahser on both sides of the ball.
In four games he’s nearly put up two triple-doubles. Against Stoney Creek, Maten set a career high with 22 points, 15 rebounds and seven blocks. The following week, he put up 19 points, 15 rebounds and six blocks against Waterford Kettering.
"He’s probably going to be a phenomenal big player as he gets older," Rogers said. "He’s already one of the better big men in Oakland County."
Lahser also has shooters like junior guard Martez Jones and size to compliment Maten with Andrew Gikas and Kyle Riley, who is recovering from an injury.
"We never know who is going to show up and be the star," Rogers said. "So far, it’s been somebody different every game and I think that’s the way it’s going to be all season."
If the young group can stay disciplined and focused, coaches and players feel like they could make waves in the OAA Gold.
"As long as we keep pushing, it could be a very special season," senior forward Abdelrahman Allam said.
It’s a game 12 years in the making.
The Knights host Brother Rice tonight at 7 p.m. for the first game between the two Bloomfield Hills schools in more than a decade.
"With both schools being in Bloomfield, we were looking at trying to bring back that rivalry," head coach Duane Graves said. "Trying to establish that sense of community."
Graves also wants to test his team during the non-conference portion of the schedule. The Warriors, a young physical team from the Catholic league, will provide a good challenge for Lahser.
Brother Rice head coach Ed Schaffer views the Knights as a formidable opponent as well.
"This is the first time (we’ve played) since I’ve been here, it’s great (for the community),” Brother Rice head coach Ed Schaffer said. "They are pretty talented, we are going to have our hands full."
Giving the game an added importance, Lahser is asking fans in attendance to bring canned food items. Boxes will be set up outside the gym for attendees to donate their non-perishable goods.
The food will go to St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Royal Oak. Both schools have been promoting the canned food drive throughout the month of December.