Lake City High School basketball sets its sights high amidst a strong season
By Taylor Shillam
The Lake City High School boys' varsity basketball team is having a season to remember.
For the Timberwolves, their coach, and their community, it's been an exciting season of wins, on and off the court.
“It has been a great year for us,” shares head coach Jim Winger. “As of January 27, we are 15-0. We have played a difficult schedule and have beat some quality teams.”
As of press time, the team remains undefeated through a series of challenging games. For the first time, the Lake City Boys basketball program ranked 25th nationally in the country by Maxpreps, they shared on their Facebook page.
“We beat Owyhee High School, who was the number one team in Idaho at the time,” he says. “We also beat Curtis High School in Tacoma, on their court. At the time, Curtis was number one in the state of Washington and ranked 40th in the nation.”
For Jim, the game in Tacoma was an exceptionally memorable one. "The moment of the season that stands out right now was our win at Curtis High School in Tacoma," he says. "We beat them on their floor in the championship game of the tournament. It was a big confidence booster for sure."
For Coach Winger and his team, the theme of the season has been confidence. “I believe our confidence in each other, and as individuals, is very noticeable,” he says. “We are also playing very hard. We have very good talent, but the guys are playing extremely hard.”
Amidst the team's confidence, talent and dedication, a strong foundation of support has made all the difference for the Lake City basketball team. Support from the local community and fellow Lake City students has been noticeably strong this year, Jim says.
“The support we have received this year is the best we have had in the 29 years here at Lake City,” says Coach Winger. “Our students have always been supportive; however, this year, the support has been amazing. Our student section is packed at every game.”
Jim has also been impressed by the community's noticeable support of the team through a season of well-attended games.
“The support from the community is also the best we have ever had here at Lake City High School,” he says. "I would guess we are averaging about 2,000 to 2,500 people in attendance per game. The community has been very good to us."
As for the rest of the season, “Our team has very high goals,” he says. Lake City boys' basketball has set its sights on finishing first in the league and taking the number one seed in districts.
“Obviously, we would love to get back to the state tournament,” he says. As of Friday, February 17, the team is ranked 21-0 and heading into the district playoffs.
Beyond the current season, several Timberwolves have plans set in motion to continue playing after they leave Lake City.
“We have four players heading to college on full scholarships: Blake Buchanan is heading to Virginia, Kolten Mitchell is heading to Idaho State, Nathan Hocking is heading to Ottawa in Phoenix, and Zach Johnson will be playing football next year at the University of Idaho,” Jim shares.
No matter where the Lake City players are headed after this year, today, the support from their coach remains as strong as ever.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this team,” Coach Winger says. “They are awesome to coach, but the best thing about this team is that they are the total package. They are great people that are fun to be around.”
From their success on the court to their behavior off the court, it's no surprise Coach Winger calls his team an extremely hard-working group. "This team is a pleasure to travel with, as they are polite and always say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to people," he says. Their hard work also extends into the classroom. “One of their best qualities is that they are very good students."
Coach Winger has been with Lake City High School since its opening 29 years ago. "I have been the head coach for all of those years, except five of them," he says, calling the experience "incredible."
"It has been so rewarding," Jim says of his time at Lake City. "I couldn’t imagine doing something else. I think Lake City is a special place, and I feel fortunate to be a part of it."
As for this season, Coach Winger is determined for his team to take it as far as possible.
"This year has truly been remarkable," he says. "We just need to finish the year as strong as we have been!"
With Coach Winger's leadership and the support of the community behind them, the Timberwolves are to continue to do great things through this season and beyond.