Two of the Mustangs’ up and comers talk about their game
BY TIMOTHY RAMSEY
Early on in the JV season the Parkland Mustangs were one of the teams to beat in the county. Heading down the final stretch of the year, they had a chance to tie for first place but fell one game short on the last day of the season. Parkland finished with a 15-8 record overall and finished second in the county.
Two of the biggest reasons for Parkland’s success on the court were Esosa Igbinigie and Lee Kpongba. Igbinigie is a sophomore guard who has provided consistent scoring and leadership throughout the year. Kpongba is a sophomore forward who is playing his first year of organized basketball and has improved by leaps and bounds since the beginning of the year, according to JV head coach Cory Baker.
Kpongba has not only helped the JV basketball team but is a star linebacker for the varsity football team. He has already received attention from top-level Division I colleges such as N.C. State, Old Dominion, East Carolina and Maryland. He says he was approached by the coaches to come out and play for the team, and once he did he started enjoying himself on the court.
Igbinigie says he picked up the game in the fourth grade after visiting the local YMCA. He says his game just continued to mature from that point.
“Sosa has been our most consistent scorer throughout the year and has been a leader by helping to bring everyone together,” said Baker. He has helped me out and the other coaches by keeping everyone on the same page.”
“Lee has progressed tremendously throughout the season and for the last month or so he has been averaging close to a double double,” Baker said of Kpongba. He is a good humble kid and he comes to school every day and does his best in class. He has a bright future if he keeps his head on straight.”
Parkland had a successful season and beat all of the better teams in the county. Igbinigie and Kpongba both said they felt their team really gelled together later in the season and became a “brotherhood.”
“At the end of the year we really started putting the pieces of the puzzle together,” Kpongba said. “We lost to some teams early in the season that we beat later in the season that we should not have lost to in the first place, if you ask me.”
Igbinigie added, “I feel like we should be 22-0. We lost to some teams that we should have beaten but we really pulled it together as a team.”
Kpongba said the Lash/Chronicle tournament really woke them up as a team. He says they were sort of over-confident coming in.
“I guess we just had a big ego and we thought we were all that,” Kpongba continued. “After we lost a couple of games there, we had revenge on our minds, so when conference time came around, we took our vengeance out on them.”
“The Lash tournament really showed us where we were,” Igbinigie said. “It showed us we were one of the best teams in the conference but not the best in the state or anything. It was a rude awakening but it was needed because it knocked us off our high horse.”
Kpongba said his favorite subject in school is science and would love to attend the University of Tennessee if he had his choice. He says if he doesn’t make it to the NFL he would just love to graduate from college and have a great life in any profession that he chooses.
Igbinigie says math is his favorite subject. He says he would love to become a dermatologist because both of his parents are doctors.
Baker said for both Igbinigie and Kpongba the future is bright. He says they both have the will to do whatever they want in life and he is sure both young men will succeed in any venture they set their minds to.