Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
CHILLICOTHE — If you carry a conversation with Southeastern junior Lane Ruby outside of the competitive arena, he’s a laid back, easygoing young man that’s sure to make you smile.
But if you approach him, say, on the basketball court, on the gridiron or on the track, do so at your own risk. When it comes to winning and losing, Ruby is simply business and he only takes victory as a form of acceptable payment. He wins by any means necessary.
After leading the Panthers’ football program to its second straight playoff berth this past fall, Ruby is now in the midst of his junior hoops campaign. He’s scoring 13.8 points per game and is averaging 3.5 assists per night, both within the league’s top six names.
However, as a whole, Southeastern has struggled mightily this season. The Panthers are 3-16 overall with a 1-11 mark in conference play. But the sectional tournament is just around the corner, and as we all know, the Panthers seem to growl a little louder when it’s do or die time.
I had the chance to catch up with Ruby and discuss what makes SE’s football program so special, what his Panthers can do to get better before the end of this basketball season, his plans for this spring on SE’s track team, and much more.
Question: Quickly looking back on football season, what makes Southeastern’s program so special and what has the key to success been over the past two seasons?
Ruby: What makes it special is our brotherhood and the friendships we’ve made. Honestly, our key to success has been that brotherhood. We always say ‘Sword sharpens the sword,’ and to make things better, we have a great coach [Evan Gallaugher] who makes sure we are put in the best position to win.
Q: Switching to basketball, now in your junior year, what do you think your biggest improvement has been from last season to this season?
LR: I think my pull-up jumper has been my biggest improvement. Last year and during my freshman year, I just drove in and tried to get fouled. Now I’ve gotten better at just stopping and shooting when I get my defender going backward.
Q: Obviously, some things haven’t went your way this season. But that doesn’t mean the season is over by any means. What can you do, as a team, to get better and make a lengthy tournament run?
LR: I think we have to just play as a team. We have the individuals to do it, now we need to come together and make a good run. We are always tough to beat in the tournament because something clicks and it’s a do or die type of situation. It’s weird, but it’s like clockwork. Every year at tournament time, we hit on all cylinders.
Q: Piggybacking off that answer, can you describe what it’s like to play in a tournament atmosphere?
LR: It’s a great feeling, playing at Waverly [in sectional tournament play]. There’s always a big crowd because people from other schools are there, too. One of the things I like most is hearing that we are going to the Convo. It gives me chills thinking about it. That’s hands down my favorite place to play.
Q: How do you prepare to handle your business on game night and, throughout the rest of your career, what are your goals?
LR: Every game is the same to me. I see what I can do to hurt my opponent offensively and try to execute to the best of my ability. My individual goal is to hit 1,000 points and as a team, our goal is to win for our school.
Q: I can’t let you go without asking you about this spring. You seem to have found your niche on the track and field team as well. How do you get back to the state meet and what do you hope to accomplish this season?
LR: I’ve already started training for track. I’m running indoor track, as well as playing basketball, to prepare myself for the state meet. I hope to improve my sprinting. I almost made it to state in the 100 and 200-meter dashes last year, so I really want to get there in all three events this year, instead of just long jump.