Posted On: 11/5/18 9:39 AM
Kingston head coach Dave Lester has made it well known over the last several years that his squad is ready to go up against nearly any team, in any gym. The Cardinals play to win every night they step on the floor. But, take a quick glance at their schedule and you’ll see that this Division 4 ball club is all about making themselves better while preparing themselves for March.
Looking back on Kingston’s 2017-18 season has given them all the motivation they need for this time around, and more. Two of Kingston’s three league losses came at the hands of conference champion International Academy of Flint. It was that same squad that cut the Cardinals postseason short, handing them a 65-62 defeat in the Regional Semifinals before getting tripped up in the Class D state quarterfinals by powerhouse program and eventual state champion – Southfield Christian.
That’s why one of the preseason goals for Kingston is to take down IAF, reclaim the conference and make a deep run into the postseason. And while looking up and down his roster, Lester likes his odds.
“(IAF) return three starters and some quality role players. Until they get knocked off, they are the team to beat,” Lester said. “But our goals are to be NCTL Stars Division Champs, District and Regional Champs. We feel like we have the pieces to be playing late into March.”
The one-two punch that Lester expects to lead that charge are guards Evan Neff (2020) and Nathan Cloyd (2019), both of whom have received interest from coaches at the next level.
Neff averaged 14.8 PPG a year ago while earning All-State and First Team NCTL honors. He also had a solid summer on the AAU circuit, being named to the PrepHoops Stock Risers list after a stellar showing wit
h the Michigan Warriors in July. As a junior, Cloyd averaged 13.3 PPG and 6.3 RPG on his way to First Team All-Conference honors.
“We return two of the best guards in our league and in Division 4 with Evan Neff and Nathan Cloyd. I feel like they can both be All-State Caliber players,” Lester said.
“Evan is a tremendous perimeter shooter who has really improved his overall game with the ability to create off the dribble, which is also where Nathan thrives. Evan’s great court vision and improved defense, along with Nathan’s rebounding and ability to defend the perimeter, are some things we will rely on this season.”
But that’s not all. Alongside Neff and Cloyd, lacing up for another season with the Cards are Hunter James (2019) and Aaron Koehler (2020) in addition to transfer Nathan Dawson (2019).
“I love our depth,” Lester said with a smile. “I’m also excited about our post players in Levi Cryderman (2019), Quin Bouchard (2020), Jack Green (2020) and Caleb Goss (2020). We should be able to give teams different looks both offensively and defensively. If we can defend, rebound and have some great team chemistry, the possibilities are endless.”
TEAM: Kingston Cardinals
CONFERENCE: North Central Thumb League – Stars Division
COACH: Dave Lester (6th season)
CAREER RECORD: 80-42
2017-18 RECORD: 7-3 NCTL, 20-4 Overall
2017-18 POSTSEASON FINISH: Regional semifinal loss to International Academy of Flint, 65-62
DATES TO REMEMBER: 11/27 vs. Harbor Beach, 12/17 vs. IAF, 12/28 vs. North Branch, 2/1/19 at IAF, 2/5 at Unionville-Sebewaing, 2/8 at Marlette