Alex Mangold wasn’t a late bloomer on the basketball court but rather was seeded late.
The 6’7 senior for Lakota East didn’t start playing competitive basketball till 7th grade. He might have started late, but once he found his passion he ran with it.
“I was more into baseball when I was little, but then I got into basketball when I was in high school,” said Mangold. “I love it.”
That devotion for the game flourished once he started playing for the Hawks. How could it not, with all the success Lakota East has experienced the past few years? In fact, he got his first real taste for how talented he was on the hardwood back after ‘District Day’ his sophomore year. The Thunderhawks might have lost to Princeton, but Alex received his first college offer– that lit his passion.
“I was hungry for more, I wanted to play at the next level after my sophomore year,” said Mangold. “I was lucky to be given that opportunity.”
Mangold eventually committed to play at Nova Southeastern, in Ft. Lauderdale. The Florida sun has to feel better coming out of basketball practice than the gray overcast sky that we get every winter.
That is next year though, for now, Mangold’s focus is on one thing– winning a district championship and beyond.
The Thunderhawks will play in front of a roaring crowd at the Cintas Center this Sunday. Last year things didn’t go so well for East at that particular venue, as they fell victim to Moeller in the regional semis.
Mangold was sidelined in that game by an injury, so this weekend will be his first time playing where the Xavier Musketeers play. He intends to make the most of it.
“Seeing the guys out there playing last year, they loved it. The crowd is huge, ‘District Day’ brings a different excitement,” he said. “Playing in my first game at Xavier, I’m very excited just to be in a big arena, playing with my teammates. I’ll do everything I can, and look forward to getting a win.”
That’s what is special about Mangold. Sure, he is extremely excited about the chance to play at Xavier, but more than anything else he just loves being out on the floor competing with his teammates.
“I just love the brotherhood,” he said on the driving force of his passion. “After the season is over, I’m going to miss a lot. After the season is done, I’m going to miss being with my friends every day. Laughing in the locker room and all those memories, that’s what I love most [about basketball].”
As for what he likes doing on the actual hardwood, it’s nothing flashy– it’s the gritty stuff.
“My favorite thing is diving on the floor for a loose ball,” he said. “It’s awesome getting offensive rebound putbacks. The other team thinks they’ve got the rebound, then I fly in out of nowhere and get the bucket. It’s the little gritty things like that.”
Those ‘little things’ are the moments that win ball games, and the Thunderhawks have won plenty on them with Mangold on the floor. The question is, can they win a couple more?
This Sunday the silver and black will take on Beavercreek in attempts to win their second straight district title. The road isn’t easy for the Thunderhawks, but Mangold looks forward to relishing in the atmosphere and moment.
“Seeing the community come around us and support us, like the school and teachers is a great time,” said Mangold.
In his senior season, Mangold is averaging 9.8 ppg and 5.9 rebounds. He has completed three double-doubles this season, each in an important game.
If Lakota East wins the district title on Sunday, they will play the winner of St. Xavier and La Salle. But as every coach, player and fan will tell you they have to take it one game at a time.