After a successful football season, Depew center Mike Lamb is leading a plethora of players from the gridiron onto the hardwood. (Photo by Jeff Barnes)
It's a new season and a new role, going from offensive lineman in football to center in basketball.
But in a sense, Mike Lamb's job is very similar - use his 6-foot-7, 315-pound frame to get in his opponents' way and create room for his teammates to make things happen.
"I'm just trying to help the team, whatever I need to do," Lamb said. I want to get rebounds and get the ball out to the other players that can score a lot. I'm just working on getting more box outs so we can get the rebound and setting screens to get people open."
He's also looking to continue something else he seemed to a do a lot of on the gridiron. The Wildcats were 16-4 over the last two football seasons and with nine football players now on the basketball court, Depew wants to continue that and continue the annual trek to Buffalo State College in the postseason.
"The football team has had great success and we have a number of football kids," Depew coach Larry Jones said. "That's a positive."
Lamb's opportunity for more playing time opened up when three-year basketball starter Jaden Cotton took his game to the University at Buffalo where he plays offensive line for the Bulls' football team.
After seeing a little playing time at the varsity level as a sophomore last year, Lamb's role continues to grow as a junior.
"With Jaden gone, Lamb will get more playing time if he continues to earn it," Jones said.
He took advantage of those opportunities earned. Lamb has averaged 9.9 points per game in the first few weeks of the season and reached double figures in four of Depew’s first six games. He scored a career-high 22 points in the ECIC-MMAA Challenge against St. Francis, including a pair of late baskets to tie the game in the final minute.
Unfortunately for the Wildcats, that game got away. It was one of three early-season games that went down to the buzzer – an experience that will no doubt be valuable in late-season crunch time.
“It’s a little nerve-wracking,” Lamb said after a one-point victory over ECIC-III rival East Aurora. “But it's good when we come out with the win.”