Wildcats Ready To Move Forward
The Paden City Wildcat Boys’ Varsity Basketball Team will put an end to any questions about their team next week when they begin the season at Bishop Donahue. The ‘Cats will look to improve on last year’s respectable 13-10 season.
“Our seniors last year were exceptional,” said Fred King, head coach of the Wildcats, speaking of Ricky Wright, Ryan Thoburn, Wes Cosper, Chris Loy, and Ronnie Blatt. “That was really a unique group,” the coach said. “I was really proud of the way they finished up.”
The ‘Cats leaned heavily on these go-to men last season when they needed to add points to the scoreboard. This season, however, their point makers are somewhat untested.
“We’ve got to make up 35 points a game from guys who aren’t used to getting good looks at the basket,” the coach said. “We’ll score more by committee than by player. At least that’s our plan.”
The makers and shakers for the team this season will be seniors Josh Bennett, 6′, and Malakai Anderson, 5’11”, both returners with good experience. “We’re expecting Malakai to be the coach on the floor in the point guard position,” King said. “And he can do it. We’ve got an excellent leader in him. Josh Bennett is going to feel some pressure this year because we’re going to be expecting double digits from him whenever he can provide them. We’ve moved him into a swing forward position where he’ll be able to use his outside shot more. His shooting has improved and we’ll be looking to him a lot.”
The lone junior on the team, Zach Yost, 6′, will see more time on the floor than usual. “He can pass, jump, move, and he’s really grown into a nice player,” King said. “Again, another guy we’re going to expect big things from.”
Empty slots and open spaces will likely be filled by one or more of the six sophomores out for the team: Taylor Still, 5’9″; Geoffrey Bidwell, 5’11”; Peyton Hinkley, 6’4″; Thomas Leonard, 5’11”; Jared Stewart, 6′; and Jamie Billiter, 5’9″.
Three freshmen – Matthew Barker, 5’6″; Jefferson Palmer, 5’5″; and Drew Bidwell, 5’8″ – will fit nicely with the “scoring by committee” plan for the ‘Cats.
“In Taylor Still we have a good all-around athlete and a good defender on the basketball court,” the coach said. “Geoffrey Bidwell is another guy with a nice outside shot. As soon as his confidence catches up with him, he’s going to be something.”
All in all, King and Assistant Coach Jeff Bowers are looking forward to the season with their young and, as yet, untried team.
“It’s going to be interesting, that’s for sure,” he said. “I have complete faith in these kids, though. We’re going to be playing the same game of basketball, we’re just going to be playing it a bit different, that’s all,” King concluded.
The Wildcats will be once again hosting their annual Christmas tournament held at Bob Burton Gymnasium on Dec. 18-19.
The ‘Cats will play their season opener Dec. 15, on the road against Bishop Donahue.