Lance Lopez new La Conner boys' basketball coach

 

November 15, 2023

Lance Lopez

Bill Reynolds

Lance Lopez

Strategic planning and chaos aren't mutually exclusive.

That is the approach taken this coming high school basketball season by new La Conner Braves hoops coach Lance Lopez.

Lopez, who has served on coaching staffs in various sports at Mount Vernon, Sedro-Woolley and his alma mater Burlington-Edison – larger schools – will employ "borderline chaos" to control tempo and take advantage of a versatile, athletic boys' roster this winter.

"I'm very familiar with the group we have here," Lopez told the Weekly News. "They are highly athletic and our goal is to use that athleticism to our advantage."

The foundation for his plans will be built on the defensive side of the floor.

"Anybody who knows me," Lopez explained, "knows that I'm a defensive minded coach."

Lopez envisions the Braves playing tenacious defense that forces turnovers and leads to transition baskets.

"Our intent," Lopez said, "is to make other teams play the tempo that we want."

The Braves will play both man and zone defenses depending on game situations.

"You'll see a little of everything from us," said Lopez.

Lopez gave members of the hiring committee a glimpse of his coaching style with a simulated practice session. Actual pre-season workouts began Monday.

Lopez succeeds former head coach and director of athletics C.J. Woods, who took a similar post in Arizona. Principal Christine Tripp has assumed Woods' athletics director role. Lopez, who has worked at area auto dealerships, is now employed in the retail industry and his shifts end in time for him to arrive on campus for practices and games.

A year ago the Braves – while playing a schedule laden with 1A and 2A foes – posted an 11-13 mark highlighted by a 63-61 victory over Coupeville on the Wolves' home court in the district tournament championship. That elevated La Conner to the state 2B round of 16 opposite Chief Leschi, which ended the Braves season, 68-41.

Lopez faces the challenge of replacing several key graduation losses from that district champ team, including leading scorer Braden Thomas, frontliners Isaiah Price and Finn Hakenson, forward Cole Medeiros and guard Isa Gonzales-Rojas.

Returning are guards Ivory Damien, Logan Burks, Brayden Pedroza and C.J. Edwards; forwards Tyler Cicotte and Corran Eisen and center Nathan Bailey.

Another backcourt performer, Christian Fix, might be available; he sat out the fall soccer campaign nursing a knee injury.

Lopez said the team will play another tough non-league schedule to prepare for the conference against rivals Friday Harbor and Coupeville, among others.

"Our non-league schedule is extremely tough and I wouldn't have it any other way," Lopez said. "We'll play Oak Harbor, Sedro-Woolley, Neah Bay and North Mason.

"Our conference," he added, "is competitive. I think our athleticism will be a plus."

Lopez will draw upon coaching philosophies gleaned from those he has worked under over the past two decades. He caught the coaching bug while attending B-EHS, from which he graduated in 2000 and whose boys' basketball program was led by Ken Talquist. His former mentor at Sedro-Woolley, Chris Spencer, has also been an influence.

"I use a little bit from everybody I've been around over the past 20 years or more," he said. "I have a little bit of stuff from Ken Talquist all the way to Chris Spencer that I've molded together."

Lopez is hopeful that will prove a recipe for success here and both on and off the court.

"We want to develop a winning culture as well as a healthy look for our kids in the community," said Lopez. "If an opportunity arises to help in the community, we want to join in."

While the intent is for his team to be visible in the community, Lopez wants the Braves to be out of town as February draws to a close, preferably playing for a spot in the state 2B Hardwood Classic in Spokane.

"We have a lot of big travel plans," he said.

 

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