Wildcats Looking To Surpass Last Season’s Win-Loss Record
If height is a requirement, the Paden City Wildcat Varsity Boys’ Basketball Team is set and ready to begin the season with four prime players topping the six-foot mark. “Our height is good,” said Head Coach Fred King of the team. “It’s been a while since we’ve been able to count that as a strength, but this year, yes.”
The Wildcats are looking to surpass last year’s record, albeit this time, without the sure hands of two important seniors lost to graduation, Malakai Anderson and Josh Bennett. Both were shooters, between the two they accounted for about 23 points a game for the ‘Cats.
“This year we’re going to have some shooters, but right now we’re not singling one out from the rest. Let me just say that we have a few that can put the ball in.”
The lone senior returning to the lineup this season will be Zach Yost (6′). “We expect Zach to play many roles on the team,” King said. “He is the only scorer we have coming back. We will rely on him to push the ball up the floor and create some offensive opportunities for him and the others. With his experience and improvement over the off-season, we expect Zach to have a memorable year.”
Juniors returning to the varsity level include: Geoffrey Bidwell (6′), Taylor Still (5’9″), Payton Hinkley (6’4″), and Jamie Billiter (5’8″). “Geoffrey might be one of our most improved players from last year,” King said. “Geoffrey finished the football season very strong. He was running the ball with toughness and authority and I think that will carry over to basketball. His outside shot has also come a long way. We expect him to take a lot of the scoring load.
“Taylor Still has heart, toughness, and determination,” said the coach. “One of the most coachable student athletes as a coach I could ask for.Every team needs one of these kind of players that will do the unnoticed, non-glamorous, important things. Set screens for our scorers, rebound, make big passes, and defend other teams’ ‘big scorers’.We would like to see Taylor score more for us this year.
“Payton has really come a long way since his freshman season and is really starting to understand this game,” said King of the big man on the team. Payton works very hard, going all out in every practice. He was a force in the middle last year as a shot blocker. We are hoping he will be more of an inside scoring threat this year.”
“Jamie Billiter will play an important role on this team because of his intelligence and overall knowledge of the game,” said the coach. “We expect him to play several positions on this team. We can plug him in anywhere and that is a valuable resource to have. He’s also a very coachable player and is willing to assume any role to make this team successful.”
Drew Bidwell (5’8″) is the only sophomore returner to the Wildcat lineup. “Hopefully Drew will become our point guard and display the confidence to lead our team thisyear and in the future,” King said. “He will be a fine player for us this year. Coach Bowers has been working with him on his shooting and it’s improved every day.”
Junior Trey Leonard (6’2″) and sophomore John Bates (5’9″) will each see a significant amount of playing time for the Green and White. “Trey has had limited experience in basketball due to a football injury his freshman year. However, we expect him to step in to help with our inside game,” the coach said. “His physical presence will enable us to play a more aggressive style of defense.
“John is new to the team this year,” said King. “He will be counted on to give us some depth in the guard position.”
Also seeking roster spots on the team this season are: seniors Haran Amorim and Lucas Marques; sophomores Rasim Araydin, Jefferson Palmer, and Aaron Higgins-Barton; and freshman Austin Quin.
“We’ve got a great bunch of kids,” King said. “We’re really looking forward to the season.”
Of his long time assistant coach, King has nothing but praise. “Jeff Bowers is an excellent strategist,” he said. “He recognizes adjustments as they are needed as the game progresses. He’s very laid back and observant of how the game is supposed to be played. With his guidance and knowledge and input over the years, we have been able to allow our teams to play to or above their potential.”
The Wildcats will travel to Clay-Battelle High School on Dec. 14 and on Dec. 17 and 18 Paden City will host the Bob and Sharon Burton Christmas Classic Tournament at Bob Burton Gymnasium.