Leander is still learning what rotation and what unit works best.
The Lions replace five seniors from last season’s playoff team but have got four returners leading a group that is aiming to hit its stride when the district season rolls around.
“What they didn’t learn in experience they learned just by watching us and being in practice," said Leander head coach Clint Bradley. "We’re going to be young, but we hope that when district comes around, we start figuring things out and we are able to play at both ends of the floor.”
Leander opened the season with wins in two of its first three games, beating East View and Anderson and falling to Rouse. Since then, the Lions have been up and down, but have beat Georgetown, San Antonio Churchill and Westwood.
Of the nine losses the Lions have on the season, six of them have been by five points or less. Westwood hit a layup with less than 10 seconds left Tuesday night to win the rematch.
Bradley said for the young team to be in games is good experience, but they need to start getting over the hump and winning close games.
“That’s going to be a big differential when we get to district,” he said. “Like we tell them, let these mistakes teach you and learn from them and get better the next day or next week.”
The Lions made the playoffs last year after a two-year hiatus. They finished in second place in a three-way play-in tournament that included Vista Ridge and Vandegrift but dropped their opening round playoff game to San Antonio Reagan.
Bradley pointed out junior Hunter Stevens as a player that will be important to Leander’s success. He and senior Ruben Luna were named to the all-tournament team as the Lions won the silver bracket at the Jack Frost tournament in Georgetown on Dec. 2.
Leander is on the road against Cedar Creek Dec. 21 and returns after Christmas at the Colony Tournament at Colony High School. District play begins Jan. 3 on the road against Vista Ridge.
For the first part of the season, the offense might be a bit of a struggle for the Lions. The district includes three teams that have been ranked in the Top 25 this season, including No. 2 Westlake, which the Lions meet Jan. 16.
Bradley said when that schedule rolls around, consistency is everything.
“Every team we ever have, we talk abut defending and rebounding first,” he said. “We can come out with energy and understand what we have to do defensively. If it’s not going well on the offensive end, we need to be able to get stops at least.”