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Bonney, Fort Zumwalt East basketball intent on making big strides this season

Fort Zumwalt East is off to a strong start on the hardwood as Zac Bonney has been a major contributor.  [Jonathan Duncan/Mid Rivers Newsmagazine photo]

Recent seasons on the hardwood have been trying for the Fort Zumwalt East basketball Lions.

In the two seasons prior to last season, the Lions had won just 19 games. That began to change for Zac Bonney and his teammates last year.

So far this season, Zumwalt East has come roaring out of the gate and is poised to have their best season yet.

Entering mid-December, the Lions thanks in large part to Bonney’s efforts are out to a 5-1 start and are intent on making area teams notice who they are now.

“We are intent on proving ourselves to teams around here,” Bonney said.

“We are not like what we were in the past we were not the team that would go out and beat anyone we want we’re trying to change that.”

Zumwalt East has won three straight games since just after Thanksgiving, and the Lions have leaned on their defense along with the hard work of a talented group of underclassmen and Bonney to drive the early surge.

“We didn’t know what to expect because we lost a lot of senior leadership and scoring and we’ve kind of replaced it with juniors that were in a supplementary role last year,” Zumwalt East coach Tom Ogle said.

“Really, I think the difference is on the defensive end this year. We’re a little bit longer, a little bit more athletic and I think it’s making a big difference to kind of cover up for mistakes.”

On the offensive end, Bonney, a 6-foot-1 senior guard has been making a big impact with his ability to score.

He is averaging a team-leading 19 points a game and recently exploded for 26 points in a win over Warrenton and 24 points in a victory over Parkway North in the Winfield Tournament.

As the Lions point guard, Bonney has the ball in his hands quite a bit and his ability to create off the dribble has allowed him to get plenty of good shots.

“I feel that I can create space and drive to the lane,” Bonney said. “I’ve got a pretty good shot when the defense comes out on me I can go right past and get easy layups.”

Ogle said what makes Bonney so good is his unselfishness. “Zac’s just been outstanding this year. He’s unselfish and that’s the biggest thing,” Ogle said. “He’s the kind of kid that’s gonna pass up a shot for himself to make a good look for his teammates.”

Senior guard/forward Devin Thurman and sophomore guard Amori Johnson also have helped out in the scoring department averaging 16 points and 10 points a game, respectively.

“No. 1 their presence in the lineup is they have been great teammates and done a great job,” Ogle said. “They’ve done a great job defensively. They are kind of our two bulldogs defensively at the top of our defense and they are really skilled at getting to the rim.”

At the outset of the season, Bonney felt that the team would be able to make some noise this winter after winning 13 games last year.

This time around, Bonney and the Lions are looking to make some big strides.

“We’re looking to get a district championship,” Bonney said. “I think we’re super capable of doing that and, getting close to 20 wins, I think that’s possible and just to prove ourselves.”

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