With just three regular season games left, the Devil Pups are fighting for a state playoff berth
Lejeune High School boys’ basketball coach Hugh Miller knows what it takes for his team to make the state playoffs, but he isn’t going to tell them.
Instead, Miller’s message is to remain true to what has been the team’s focus all season.
“We are just going to work one game at a time,” Miller said. “That’s our motto.”
The Devil Pups, who are a “Last 5 In” team according to HighSchoolOT.com’s 1A state playoff projections, have been trending in the right direction. Over the last nine games, the Devil Pups have seven wins.
Lejeune has seen growth, but it is an uphill climb to the top of a strong Coastal 8 Conference (1A/2A). With a league record of 6-5, LHS is fourth in the standings behind Dixon (8-3), East Carteret and Pender, who both share a 10-1 record in conference play.
Heading down the season’s final stretch, Lejeune will lean on junior Jaylon Armstrong and sophomore Andrew Navarro to lead the way. The team’s two standouts have gotten quality support from the likes of Nick Simon, LaKeigh Harris, Tariq Lee, Matt McClane and other role players who have come into their own as of late.
For Coach Miller, it is the team’s bond and their reliance on each other that makes this group special.
“It’s a great group,” Miller said. “They are great in the classroom, great on the floor and they are together. They are a cohesive group, and that’s what I like about them.”
Oftentimes outnumbered and outsized, the Devil Pups are determined not to be outworked.
“We are not afraid of anybody we are going to play,” said Miller, who won a state title as an assistant at Rocky Mount Senior High. “I don’t care if they are bigger than we are, we are going to work that much harder to beat them.”
Lejeune hosts Heide Trask on Friday before traveling to East Carteret on Tuesday. The team’s regular season finale will be at home on senior night against Pender, Feb. 14.