Lions’ shaky start not getting to the team, still set on goals

New Richmond’s Chad Nort goes up for a contested layup in the Lions’ game against Western Brown on Dec. 21.
By Chris Chaney
Sun staff

The New Richmond Lions’ start to the 2012-13 season hasn’t been ideal, but the way in which the team has dropped some winnable games has kept their spirit up and reignited their will to win.

“We started out the year 3-4 with a few loses of three points or less,” head coach Brian McMonigle said. “If you turn a couple things around and do some things better in the fourth quarter, then we’re looking at 6-1 right now, so from that aspect I think we’re a little frustrated because we know we should be a little better right now.

“But I think that’s okay for us right now because our guys are still inspired and motivated to play hard and do better than we’ve been doing.”

McMonigle acknowledge some of the early losses, three of which have come by less than three points, could have been flipped and resulted in Lions’ victories, but even when the team is winning, they are in close games usually.

As a result, the coach would like to see him team turn some things around in the games that they lost, but also build upon their close wins also.

“We want to improve on every game that we have played (when playing some of these teams again),” McMonigle said. “We played all five teams in the league and went 2-3 the first time around. We want to improve our spread in every game. If we won a game by a couple points, we want to improve on that. If we lost a game, we want to turn those around and get some ‘Ws’ in the second half of the season.”

At 4-5 overall, the Lions have not dug themselves into a hole that is insurmountable by any means and with 12 games still on the schedule, New Richmond will have ample opportunities to put those improvements into action.

Led by big man John Ernst’s 10 points and five rebounds a night, the Lions have the inside presence that their guard-oriented offense needs to keep things balanced.

“Recently, his play has improved because he’s stayed out of foul trouble,” McMonigle said. “Earlier in the year, his numbers were down because he was facing a lot of foul trouble.”

The Lions don’t face any divisional opponents for nearly a month and will play the National side of the Southern Buckeye Conference in the coming weeks before getting their second crack at their divisional foes beginning with Goshen on Jan. 25.

Still, the non-league games on their plate straight ahead will be used as a barometer to see how their shooting is coming along.

McMonigle said that the team is made up of a lot of good shooters who just aren’t knocking down shots and he would like to see this stretch be used to get some of those guys into a rhythm and build their confidence.

Aside from that, the Lions’ goals have no changed.

“Our No. 1 team goal was to have a winning season,” McMonigle said. “It’s been about seven years since New Richmond has had a winning season. We were very close last year. We finished right on the .500 mark, but we want a winning season and want to finish the season on the plus side for the first time in a long time.”