LESLIE — This winter has definitely been one of the most enjoyable Dylan Patton has experienced on the basketball court.
And the reasons are easy to see.
The 6-foot-8 center has been a key component for a Leslie boys basketball team that has been among the hottest in mid-Michigan. And his contributions have helped the Blackhawks emerge as a top-10 team in Class B in the Associated Press rankings..
“It’s for sure fun,” Patton said. “As sophomores, me and Zac (Latter) and Jordan (Pearsall) were up on the varsity and we saw the seniors going (well) and we wanted to have the best senior season we could have. We really prepared early in the year just to have the best senior season we could have.”
Patton and his senior peers are doing their part and have been big components for the No. 6-ranked Blackhawks, who have won 15 straight since a loss to Perry in December. Latter is the team’s leading scorer at 17.1 points, while Patton is averaging a double-double (14.4 points, 13.2 rebounds) while serving as a shot-blocking presence. Pearsall ranks third in scoring and is among the team’s top distributors.
Others have stepped up throughout the season for Leslie (16-1, 9-1 GLAC) with Pearsall and Latter each missing time with injuries. And Blackhawks coach Matt Johns believes those injuries have made his team stronger and deeper.
“That depth has allowed us to play a little bit more consistently throughout the game,” said Johns, whose team has won each of its games by at least 10 points. “We don’t have huge up and downs when we go the bench. You look at (last week) against Dansville, which is a really good team. Zac had four points and we’re able to win by double digits because we had other guys step up and hit some shots.”
It’s that balance that has Leslie hoping there’s plenty of more good things to come this season. The Blackhawks are a win away from capturing an outright league championship and will have a chance to capture a Class B district title on their home court next month.
“We’ve got a big strong team this year and a lot of talent in a lot of different places,” Latter said. “We’ve especially got a lot of team bonding going on and everyone is working well (together) and chemistry is at an all-time high right now. We think we can do a lot of special things, especially when it comes to the postseason. I’m excited for it and I know a lot of the other guys are too. It should be fun.”
Contact Brian Calloway at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.