SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP — The day after the Lakeside football season ended on Nov. 1, players on the basketball team showed up for practice.

"I applaud coach Buzz [Edwards] and what he's doing for that program," Dragons boys basketball coach Jon Mannarino said.

Mannarino is looking to build up the basketball program after a 7-16 record last season.

"The guys are learning how to work hard with different intensity, different culture," he said. "It's been going well."

Mannarino, a former Beachwood head coach, is stressing relentless control, attitude, effort, communication, preparation and communication, competitive excellence and creating a family atmosphere.

"They're adjusting," he said. "There have been speed bumps, but have been working hard the last week."

While players in the fall were participating in their respective sports, those who weren't got a jump on the season.

"We had a strong September and October," Mannarino said. "The guys are working hard and focusing on getting better on a daily basis."

One such player is Brandon Ford. The second-team all-county and honorable mention Northeast Lakes All-District junior spent the offseason getting prepared for basketball.

"I worked out every day," he said. "I shot with the shooting machine, lifted and worked out every day."

Mannarino has been impressed with Ford's progress.

"He's grown as a person," the coach said. "He's starting to get Division I interest. He's put in so much time and is starting to see the benefits."

Seniors Marquis West and Sean McKee are two other players who are progessing.

"Marquis West is ultra-talented and does everything well and Sean McKee ... we can put him in various spots where he can be successul," Mannarino said.

McKee likes having a more versatile role.

"I can rebound, I can shoot the 3 and I can shoot the mid-range shot," he said. "It's fun."

Javontae Yates and Dom Parsons, a Cleveland John Marshall transfer, are other names to watch.

Mannarino's goal is simple — to compete.

"Every day, game to game," he said. "We're not going to [goals for] wins or losses. We want to be ready for March."

The Dragons loaded up their schedule in preparation for the postseason tournament.

In addition to facing new foes in the Chagrin Valley Conference Chagrin Division like Edgewood, Geneva, Perry and Harvey, Lakeside is slated to play schools like Garfield Heights at home Dec. 3 to open the season, at University School on Dec. 28 in the NEO Classic and at Lakewood St. Edward on Feb. 15.

"We don't have any nights off," Mannarino said. "It's full-steam ahead. We start off with Garfield Heights, (home to) Harvey (Dec. 6) and (at) North (Dec. 7). We play a lot of top-tier teams and our district is the same way."

For McKee, that schedule is OK.

"I love the competition," he said. "We challenge each other in practice, we should want to go out and challenge for the win."

When it comes back to reaching goals, Mannarino goes back to the pillars.

"Sticking together, playing together and having each other's back," McKee said.

 West added, "If we can execute, we'll be alright."

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