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New Pacer coach hopes to repeat last year's success

Fred Gold believes this year's team is as talented as the one that qualified for the state tournament

VERN UYETAKE - Immanuel Allen broke through as a freshman for the Lakeridge boys basketball team last year and is poised to be one of the top players in the state this season on a talented Pacer team.After reaching new heights last year, the Lakeridge boys basketball team is replacing three of its five starters and breaking in a new coach this winter. However, new coach Fred Gold has been optimistic about his team from the start and it appears his attitude is warranted.

The Pacers are off to a 2-0 start with solid wins over Reynolds and Roosevelt and Gold hopes that, if the team continues to progress, it can earn a second straight trip to the state tournament.

It helps that Lakeridge is returning one of the top players in the state in Immanuel Allen. Allen burst onto the scene as a freshman last year and had a penchant for late-game heroics.

“I definitely believe he's one of the best. We took it personally that he's coming back and we only got one top-10 vote in the first poll,” Gold said.

Keaton Wood, a starter from last year's team, is also returning while slowly working his way back from an ankle injury he sustained during the football season.

“He's gradually coming back. He may not start every game for us this year but he'll definitely close them,” Gold said.

Ian Gaekwad also returns, making the transition from point guard to shooting guard this season and has already responded with a fast start in two games.

“He's been a floor general for us and he's seeing that hard work in the gym pay off,” Gold said.

Austin Peters will handle the point guard duties this year and Josh Spurgeon will also crack the starting line-up.

Lakeridge has a significant amount of height this year which gives the team a bit of a different look. The Pacers got a transfer from Horizon Christian in 6'8” Nate Ninteman. Junior Jack Holum could also provide match-up difficulties at 6'6”.

“We're still trying to figure it out a bit. We'd like to be able to pound it inside but we also have good perimeter players who can create shots for their teammates,” Gold said.

With a deep and athletic roster, Lakeridge should be able to give teams different looks and adapt to different styles they see this year.

“Our strength is definitely our versatility. We can go big or go small. The hope is we can hit teams on all cylinders,” Gold said.

Although the team doesn't have an excess of varsity experience returning from last year, Gold feels that may prove to actually be an advantage.

“We definitely have guys teams will key on but we have a bunch of players who no one really knows about yet who are under the radar,” Gold said.

He also hopes that it adds up to another deep playoff run this season.

“I feel like we're maybe even more talented than last year's team and that's not a slight on those guys. In our goal meeting, the players were all on board. They want to get back to the state tournament and we expect to do it,” Gold said.