Stone, Zion looking ahead

Posted on 26 December 2013 by LeslieM

Pages 09-16By Gary Curreri

Zion Lutheran School junior forward Keith Stone is certainly making up for lost time on the basketball court.

After a strong summer of playing with Nike Team Florida in the AAU Showcase and then playing in the AAU National Championship game on ESPN, Stone has had nearly three dozen NCAA Division I colleges come through to evaluate his talent on the basketball court. Not a bad accomplishment for someone who has been playing basketball for just four years.

It’s going good,” said Stone, 16, of Deerfield Beach. “It’s slowly happening, but I am glad I am starting to see what my options are.”

Stone, a 6-foot, 7-inch, 225-pound junior forward from Zion Lutheran, scored 32 points to lead the Lions to a come-from-behind, 60-54 victory over Coolidge High of Washington D.C for third place in the Rock Challenge Bracket of the recently concluded Kreul Classic at the Coral Springs City Gymnasium. The Lions are 8-4 on the year.

I really wasn’t that good before,” said Stone, who played goalkeeper in a recreational soccer league and in baseball before giving basketball a try when he enrolled at Zion Lutheran. “I spent a lot of time in the gym with (Zion Lutheran boys’ basketball coach John Guion) and the other coaches.

I love everything about basketball, getting up and down the court, shooting, all of that,” added Stone, who also maintains a 3.2 grade point average in the classroom. “I do feel pressure to contribute, but I don’t let it affect my game. I just go out and try my hardest and try and prove everybody wrong.”

Stone said he’s surprised that he is starting to get the attention of colleges, but said he’s also glad his hard work has paid off.

I couldn’t make a layup, or dribble when I first started,” Stone said. “I have improved my shooting a lot. I figure I’ll play the three (small forward) or the four (power forward) in college.”

Guion said the attention that Stone is getting is also opening the doors for his teammates like Vince Stubbs, a 6- foot, 3-inch junior forward who is also drawing interest at the next level.

Keith has not missed a workout in three years,” said Guion, who is in his third year as basketball coach and is also the school’s assistant athletic director. “He is the first one to get in the gym and the last one to leave. He’s a doer. He very seldom questions anything that is asked of him. He is new to the game and he understands he has to be more assertive.

I am not surprised in how well he is doing,” Guion added. “He had decent hands and he is big. His feet weren’t horrible. We started him in the post and he is now playing all five positions. Being able to play multiple positions keeps you on the court longer.”

Guion hopes his team will make a deep run into the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) playoffs this season. He said his team has the potential to do well; however, it needs to gel as a team.

It’s December, and it’s a process,” Guion said. “I think we have steadily shown progress. The Lions returned all of its starters from last year and will return everyone next year as well.”

Guion said the last two weeks have challenged his team and in the end, they will have to get past Grandview Prep.

That’s a great team,” Guion said. “They are a big roadblock. I am not concerned with how far we go. I just want everyone to play to their strengths and we’ll throw that in the bucket and be strong.”

The Lions finished last year 22-8 and enjoyed the best season in school history after it won the district championship and reached the Class 2A regional finals where it dropped a 71-48 decision to Westwood Christian. It had been a dozen years since Zion Lutheran had reached the state tournament.

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