Written by Corbett Smith
Who's laughing now? Lakeview no joke after four-year resurgence
GARLAND — When watching the swagger and speed Garland Lakeview plays with, it’s hard to believe that it wasn’t always wins and glory for the program’s 10 seniors.
It might look like they’ve always won, with back-to-back 30-plus win seasons and a second straight trip to Austin. Lakeview (36-1) faces San Antonio Northside Taft (34-5) in the Class 5A state semifinals at 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin.
But Jamarlas “Tez” Demas and Toddrick Gotcher remember the not-so-glamorous times. Namely, a 9-21 season in 2007-08, when Demas and Gotcher started as freshmen. Another starter on this year’s team, Bryan Lipsey, got quality minutes off the bench that year.
Demas recalled a time where he, a scrawny kid out of Lyles Middle School, was being taunted by the Jesuit crowd, chanting, “Hit the weight room.”
“I was like, ‘Come on, I’m only 14 years old. Why are you picking on me?’” Demas said. “But, I just had to be mentally tough. That’s a pretty big difference coming out of eighth grade and playing on the varsity level.”
To compound the physical limitations of being a freshman, the requirements of what coach Tony Mauldin was asking them to do were miles from their junior-high offense.
“In eighth grade, we didn’t press, we didn’t run,” Gotcher said. “All we did is shoot 3s and play 2-3 zone.
“It was very tough. It was new to us. We didn’t really understand coach Mauldin. Now, we know him real well, know what he wants, what he likes to do. But we didn’t understand his system coming out of middle school.”
The following season, when point guard Chris Jones was moved up from the freshman team, Mauldin didn’t know what he had until the season was underway.
But he knew he had something brewing.
“We knew we had a special class,” Mauldin said. “You don’t start freshmen at a 5A level unless they’re really special.”
Unlike Flower Mound Marcus, who burst onto the scene with three sophomore starters — Phil Forte, Marcus Smart and A.J. Luckey — making a run to the state semifinals last season, Lakeview’s rise was more of a slow burn.
Gotcher, Demas and Jones’ sophomore seasons were more successful, finishing as a third-place team out of District 10-5A. They won 19 games, including a playoff game by beating Carrollton Creekview, 69-68, before bowing out.
Even then, though, some had doubts as to how good they could be — even among the players on the team.
“To be honest, I really didn’t think we were going to be this good,” Jones said. “My mom always told me that hard work pays off. And it does, sooner or later.”
It wasn’t until last year when the team gathered its confidence, winning 23 in a row to advance to the state finals, losing in the final to Fort Bend Bush, 65-58.
This season, after what Mauldin has called a “dream year,” Lakeview is back to the state tournament. A potential matchup between Dallas-Fort Worth area’s best teams looms.
Flower Mound Marcus (37-1) faces Fort Bend Hightower (29-7) at 3:30 Friday in the other 5A semifinal.
“It’s a great feeling to get to play on Texas’ floor again,” Gotcher said. “But this year, we’ve got unfinished business and we want to win the championship.”
Lakeview’s Big 3
54 3 pts
Past four years