Chandler Thompson calls his Louisa homecoming a blessing.
The 2009 Lawrence County graduate is leading the Bulldogs basketball program after spending nine years on Randy Anderson’s coaching staff at Boyd County.
“The transition has been incredibly smooth from the people I work with every day, the administration, community members, parents,” Thompson said Nov. 9 during a Northeastern Kentucky high school basketball media day in downton Ashland. “The support has been remarkable. But in all honestly, the smoothest part of this transition is these guys that are sitting with me here today and the team we have back in Louisa.”
Anderson was flanked by seniors Tyler Maynard and Chase Sartin along with sophomore Cody Maynard.
According to the new coach, Lawrence County players have been “All in from Day 1.”
“They had no trouble buying in,” Thompson continued. “They’re not afraid to work. They worked hard in the weight room and practices have been great. I’m really excited to see what the season holds for these guys.”
Lawrence County players feel the same way.
“It’s just been very exciting, a fun process,” Tyler Maynard said of having Thompson at the helm. “Practices are a lot more intense than they have been in the past.”
Sartin called the change “very different, a lot different in a good way. I’ve enjoyed it and I think it will be a good season.”
Lawrence County won 22 games last season and returns a wealth of firepower.
All-Area selection Tyler Maynard, a 6-foot-2 senior, averaged 20.6 points and 5.6 rebounds last season. Cody Maynard popped in a team-leading 70 triples while scoring at a 16.8 clip as a sophomore. Sartin supplied 10.3 points and five rebounds per game.
“There’s no secret there’s some good pieces there to work with,” Thompson said. “Offensively, there’s no doubt about it. We’ve got some good shooters, guys that can put the ball in the hole.”
Chandler’s emphasis has been on what the Bulldogs are doing when they don’t have possession.
“From a coach’s standpoint, I wonder how it will be when we are not hitting shots. Defensively, can we win games in other phases of the game? So far they’ve shown capable of doing that and I have no doubts when the games roll around they will be competitive on both sides of the ball.”
Thompson described practices as very intense.
“Overall, these guys have been very competitive and mentally tough,” he said.
The Bulldogs want to play up-tempo and Thompson believes his squad has the numbers to do it.
“We’ve got a deep team,” he said. “There are about 10 guys that can contribute on the varsity level. I think we will be able to play fast, get up and pressure and give some guys breaks and not fall off a lot when we need to sub.”
Other players he mentioned in the mix include seniors C.J. Fairchild and Alex Ratliff, juniors Baden Gillispie and Jacob Savage, sophomores Trenton Adkins and Bryce Blevins, and freshmen Will Lafferty and Kaden Gillespie.
Thompson gets a strong sense the Bulldogs are hungry. After a six-game winning streak to close the 2018-19 schedule, Lawrence County fell to Floyd Central, 56-54, in the district tournament.
Tyler Maynard called it a heartbreaking loss.
“Coming off 22 wins and losing in the first round of district left a bad taste in our mouth,” he said.
Noted Thompson: “I feel like they are ready to get back in that situation, build off the success they had last year and hopefully take it a step further.”
He praised the team’s leadership.
“We have a good senior class,” Thompson said. “I feel like I stepped into a good situation. I truly have been blessed.”
On Dec. 14, Thompson and Anderson will be reunited on the court in the Boyd County Roundball Classic.
“It’s going to be good,” Thompson said. “Coach Anderson is like a second dad to me. I love him. But at the same time, I’m looking forward to the opportunity to go and compete against him. We’ve been on the same side of this thing for a long time, so it will be special for sure to go and compete with him and kind of take the relationship to another level.”
The following week, Lawrence County returns to the area for the Raceland Derby Classic.
The Bulldogs will build toward what they hope will be a deep run in the postseason.
“It’s tough,” Thompson said of the 15th Region landscape. “It’s no secret there are a lot of good teams, physical teams, well-coached teams. Johnson Central, Shelby Valley, Paintsville, Martin County, you go right down the line. I think we have a chance to be a very good team.”