He’s got the drive.
Lincoln senior point guard Donald Cannon Flores feels most comfortable with the ball in his hands and the pressure resting squarely on his shoulders. The Railsplitters standout came into this season with lingering memories of last year’s championship game disappointment, and vowed — long before that very first practice — that he’d do whatever he could to make sure history didn’t repeat itself.
Flores did just that, leading Lincoln to its first city title since 2013 in a dominant victory over Jefferson March 11. Now, he’s got his sights set on a Federation championship, and is just as driven to achieve that goal as he was when he first suited up for the squad.
“I want a city and a state championship, and so far we’ve succeeded at one,” Flores said. “I knew coming in we had a very young team, so I had to make sure all my guys were on the same page at the same time, no matter what.”
Flores doesn’t strike the most imposing figure on the court; he’s not the tallest player on the roster or even the most physical. But he’s got an extra ounce of determination that — once he gets up a head of steam and an open lane towards the basket — makes him all but impossible to slow down.
The long-time Railsplitters star, who averaged just over 15 points per game against city opposition this season, doesn’t shy away from opposing defenders. If anything, he thrives on such confrontations, and is more than happy to leave the opposition in his metaphorical dust as he takes the ball to the hoop.
“It’s always good to be regarded as one of the tougher guys in the city,” said Flores, “So for me, I knew it was my job to do that coming in this year.”
Playing point guard also means Flores helps set up his teammates, and he’s quick to dish the ball if he sees another Railsplitter has a better look. He averaged nearly four assists during the regular season and, in five playoff games, racked up just under six assists per game. Flores’ court vision — his ability to spot passing lanes as easily as driving lanes — is a big part of why four Lincoln players averaged more than eight points a game this winter.
“Coach was preaching to me right after the championship game last year, and then all summer, that he needed me to help lead these guys,” the senior said. “That’s all he kept talking about: how I needed to help kind of direct this team and kind of push us this season.”
Flores — who has drawn interest from a handful of mid-major schools — has done his best this year to strike a balance between his own stats and making sure his teammates get their own looks as well. He admits that it isn’t always easy, but says walking that line has been one of the most rewarding challenges he’s faced in his high school career.
“You’ve got to do what’s best for the team at the moment,” he said. “If I’m not hitting my shots or I’m not getting looks for myself, I have to create for others and get other guys hot. We all have to balance each other out and that helps the flow of the team.”
With, at best, two more high school games in front of him, Flores is determined to lead one final charge with the Railsplitters. He’s just as focused as ever, anxious to make sure that drive to Glens Falls was worth it.
“This year I’ve really played the general role,” Flores said. “I’m really trying to focus on being the point guard and the leader of this team.”