LAFAYETTE, Ga. -- Some teams have the ability to intimidate opponents with their size. The LaFayette High School boys' basketball team does so with its speed.
Despite not having a player on the roster more than 6 feet tall, the Ramblers are 11-2 with a 2-0 record in Region 7-AAA going into tonight's clash at Ringgold (14-2, 1-1). LaFayette's speed and experience, with seven seniors on the varsity roster, have played a big role in the team's success, according to coach Tommy Swanson.
"We have a lot of quickness and a lot of depth, but it's not 'big' depth," Swanson said. "We have a bunch of players that all fit the same mold, but these guys are used to winning, and regardless of how we look walking onto the court, they are highly competitive and expect to win."
Of the 12 who have played in a varsity game, eight stand 5-foot-11 or less. Five are 5-6 or 5-7. As a result, the Ramblers play a lot of full-court pressure defense in hopes of getting steals and turning them into layups.
"If you haven't already seen this team, you would think we're a junior varsity team when we come onto the court," Swanson said. "I tell people not to judge a book by its cover, or take these guys lightly. They've been small their whole career. I don't worry about it because they don't, but they play hard the whole time, and any guys could lead us in scoring on any given night."
The team averages 12.8 steals per game, led by 5-7 Devarus Porter's 4.2. Senior point guard Jordan Teems controls the offense and averages 11.1 points and 6.1 assists per game. The team's leading scorer is sophomore post player Lance Estus, who at an even 6-foot averages 13.3 points and 11.6 rebounds per contest.
"A lot of teams laugh at us when they see us walk on the court," Teems said. "We've got a bunch of seniors and a lot of experienced guys that have played since we were sophomores. We have a lot of fun, though; we have a lot of freedom in our offense."
As an underclassman, Estus has just been trying to find his niche in his first varsity season.
"We've all played together since we were little. We've got great chemistry," he said. "We're all like one big brotherhood on the court -- very close. The big thing for me is trying to help this team make it to state so I can have the experience to pass on to future teams."
The Ramblers have their sights set on the state playoffs. The seniors have just missed on two previous opportunities, falling a game short as sophomores when Central-Carrollton defeated them 59-58 on a 3-pointer at the buzzer and losing to Allatoona in the region tournament last season.
"It would mean a lot for us to make it," Teems said. "We had a chance my sophomore year, but it would just be special to this community as a whole because we hadn't been in a long time.
"This team works hard and deserves it."