CHAUMONT — Leo Wilson felt good about his boys basketball team after the 2018-19 season. While Lyme was losing Damon Blaha and Ryan Aubertine to graduation, it was still the defending Section 3 Class D champions and its biggest weapon, Isaiah Wilson, was returning for his senior year.
Then Kyle Gaumes, came on board. The former point guard at LaFargeville, who averaged over 20 points per game for the Red Knights last season, moved houses and now lives in the Lyme Central School District, making him an Indian. Leo Wilson had an easy replacement for the departed Blaha.
But the plan once again changed when, right before school started, Wilson found out he would also be gaining Jake Bombard, the leading scorer at Immaculate Heart a season ago.
In only a few months, Lyme had gained two of the Frontier League’s best guards and has essentially put together a north country big three.
Wilson has decided to have Bombard play point guard and let Gaumes play more off ball, a role that excites Gaumes, a junior.
“I love it. When I play on my AAU team, we have tons of point guards, I don’t even have to touch the ball to bring it up the court,” Gaumes said. “I can get out and run, I love doing that. I love playing off ball and not having the burden of bringing the ball up the court every time.”
Gaumes and Bombard can be interchanged at the point guard position, which means someone will always be fresh.
“When you bring the ball up the court every time, you start to get tired. When the teams pressed, you’re always back there bringing it up,” Gaumes said. “Now with Jacob and I, if Jacob is having a bad game, I can go in at point guard. It’s just interchangeable parts here, it’s perfect.”
Bombard took a similar path as Gaumes to Lyme. After his family moved within the Lyme school district, Bombard decided it was time to move on from IHC.
“It really was a tough decision, because that was basically my home,” Bombard said. “Over the summer, my parents bought a house down here and it felt right, so I came over here.”
There isn’t much of a chemistry issue with Gaumes and Bombard joining the roster. They, alongside Isaiah Wilson and Tyler Wilson, have played together before for various teams in various leagues.
“Usually teams have one or two really good players and you can double-team those really good players,” Bombard said. “But I think when you have three or four pretty unstoppable players, even if they double one player, someone else is going to score.”
If teams are going to try to double-team one person on Lyme, it will most likely be Isaiah Wilson. The senior was arguably the most excited when he found out both Gaumes and Bombard would be suiting up in green and yellow this season.
“I was pretty ecstatic,” Wilson said. “I’ve played with both of those guys since fifth grade through Victory Bulldogs and obviously had pretty good matchups against Kyle last year in the Frontier League. First time we played each other, we both scored over 30 points. We both know each other pretty well and we respect each other. I was proud because I think it’s a really good fit.”
Coming into the offseason, the returning Lyme players already began to feel the pressure of repeating as sectional champions, and the notable losses made that pressure tighter. Though Gaumes and Bombard are a tremendous help, the Indians are still training like they’re short-staffed.
“Us returners are still practicing with the same intensity as if (Gaumes and Bombard) aren’t here,” Isaiah Wilson said. “Because if we bring that on top of what they’re bringing, I think we can make a good run.”
Last season, Wilson was a bit of an everything man. Standing at 6-foot-3 and with a muscular build, he can dominate anyone in the paint, but he also has a decent jump shot that improved tremendously as the season progressed. In the Frontier League finals last season, against LaFargeville, Wilson hit four 3-pointers enroute to scoring 40 points.
He and Blaha made up for most of the offense last season, with Ryan Aubertine and Tyler Wilson also getting involved in the offense. But with Bombard and Gaumes on the roster, Isaiah Wilson’s role, while not necessarily smaller, is different.
“It’s going to change him considerably really, and he loves it. He does not have to be so worried about getting the ball, scoring each time he has it,” Leo Wilson said. “He can play off the ball, work on his defense more, work on his passing, which is what he wants to do because he’s taking the next step next year, hopefully, to the college level.”
Isaiah Wilson has achieved most of the goals he set for himself when started playing varsity basketball as an eighth grader. The only remaining one is a state title.
Lyme came close last season, as it lost to Harrisville in the state quarterfinals after winning the school’s first sectional title in 41 years.
“At this point, I’m willing to do anything I can to get that,” Isaiah Wilson said. “Whether it’s getting 15 rebounds, 15 points or 15 assists, or even not doing anything offensively, just defensively, I’m willing to do whatever.”
Leo Wilson isn’t sure yet whether or not this team will be better than last year’s, it’s still too early to tell. But like last year, not too many teams are going to look forward to when Lyme enters the gym.