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Lemaster gives Wesley Chapel energy boost as sixth man

By JAMAL THALJI, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 16, 2003

WESLEY CHAPEL -- There isn't a deeper bench in the county than Wesley Chapel's, where the Wildcats go nine or 10 deep, and maybe even further than that.

So why does the first player off the bench, Travis Lemaster, have to do so much?

The 5-foot-10 junior can play the No. 1 guard position, at the point. Or he can play shooting guard. Or small forward. Or even, on occasion, power forward.

That's four different positions for the Wildcats' sixth man. How does he do it?

"I've got a job to do," he said, "and I get it done."

There's more to it than that, of course. Wesley Chapel, ranked No. 3 in the Class 3A state poll, begins its playoff hunt in next week's District 10 tournament at Pasco. This time, Lemaster will be an even bigger part of the Wildcats' run to the state tournament than he was last season.

"His job when he comes in off the bench and onto the floor for us is to come in with energy at whatever spot I need him at," Wesley Chapel coach Kent Mills said.

"He plays the one, the two, the three and at times I've even played him at the four sometimes.

"He knows his job is to create offensively and defensively with as much energy as he can throw on the floor."

But the truth is, Lemaster is more of a guard than anything else. Which explains his versatility. Some forwards can play guard, and vice versa. But not many can play the point.

"A point guard has to know where everybody is, and Travis is capable of understanding everyone's role, everyone's position," Mills said. "He'll step into any position and do it.

"He jumps pretty well. He hits the boards pretty hard. He goes at it very hard."

Last season, he was the team's top 3-point shooter. But on a team that doesn't lack for scoring inside or out, Lemaster doesn't have to score anymore. He can, but he doesn't have to.

"Last year, I was just mainly concerned about shooting," Lemaster said. "Now I'm trying to do a little bit more. I'm trying to do different things to help the team."

Unless they need him to score, that is.

"This year, he has an open green light and he can get to the basket very well," Mills said. "To me, he's a very important player for our basketball team. He's a high-energy guy. Certainly, when you put him in a game, you're going to get as much out of him as he has that night."

Lemaster usually comes off the bench to fill in at small forward for Greg Harrison. But Lemaster's ability to fill in either guard spot means Mills can better use his favored three-guard rotation along with starting point guard Zach Mills and 3-point shooter Eric Sorensen. Then, when one of them has to go to the bench, Lemaster doesn't miss a beat.

"We'll run a more natural three-guard offense with those three," coach Mills said. "But the nice part is you can leave him on the court when Eric or Zach go to the bench.

"He's a great kid, a very coachable young man who accepts whatever role given to him, and not every kid will do that."

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