Girls and boys basketball seasons wrap up

As the winter regular season comes to a close, the girls and boys varsity basketball teams have shown how much talent they have and what they are capable of. The girls are 10-9 overall being third in the 3A region, while the boys are 9-11 overall and 17th in the 3A region. 

The girls, coming off of a strong season last season, have been working hard to improve. Last season, the girls beat the defending state champs twice during the regular season and even made it to the semifinals of the state playoffs. The Cats faced off against Lumpkin County during the semifinal round and were even favored to win. Unfortunately for the Cats, concerns about COVID-19 protocols inhibited the team as it caused many key players to be missing from the roster. 

Similarly, the boys faced equal disappointment when they fell just short of making it to the playoffs. After a tough loss to Carver in the first round of regions, the boys were unable to continue, and their season ended in heartbreak. 

“It was disappointing,” said sophomore Kent Perkins. “We almost had a spot in the playoffs but we lost two region games we should’ve won. It was tough knowing we were so close.”

Unfortunately for the boys, COVID-19 came back strong as ever, as nine boys tested positive within the same week during the end of Christmas break. The outbreak shut down multiple games and limited the team from practicing for over two weeks.

“We couldn’t practice as a team,” said junior Varsity player Tyler Harris. “There was a whole two-week period where we really weren’t together. That definitely set us back.”

In addition to COVID-19, the boys’ team has been riddled with injuries. In fact, many key players have been sidelined due to lingering injuries. Because of these injuries, many players have had to step up to fill an empty spot. Picking up the roles that the injured players have left behind is no easy task. 

“We’re sometimes only told the day before a game that someone is injured,” said Harris. “It’s hard to adjust so quickly, especially when we’re losing a player we’ve had the whole season and is a crucial part of our team.”

The girls team has not come out unscathed either, as COVID-19 issues and injuries have plagued it as well. Junior Courtney Ogden, who recently committed to Stanford, is a clear leader and is a powerful force to be reckoned with on both sides of the ball. Averaging more than 25 points per game, Ogden recently made her 1000th career point, completing a huge milestone in such a short time. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, Ogden was sidelined multiple times due to COVID-19 issues, forcing sophomore Stella Chartrand to step up and take over the offense. With a combination of fantastic ball-handling skills and a knockdown jumper, Chartrand was able to keep the team afloat, making the majority of the shots when Ogden couldn’t play. Due to the pair’s stellar playing and high skill level, opposing teams began implementing strategies to shut Chartrand and Ogden down. However, what opposing teams failed to realize was that the Wildcats are a very well-rounded team. With teams often double teaming Chartrand and Ogden, junior Keira Staude and senior Sydney Moore stepped up to the occasion and carried the load with their quick footwork and impressive defensive skills.

Likewise, many players on the boys team have stepped up and excelled this year. Specifically, the captains and upperclassmen have worked on setting good examples for the rest of the team by pushing themselves everyday during practice and in games. Seniors Robert Bernot and Kamden Coleman have taken on the key leadership roles as captains and have executed them flawlessly. Bernot and Coleman understand that younger players look up to them, and because of this, they set an example by being the first ones at practice and the last ones to leave. Furthermore, senior Rajan Kadaba has been very important this season, even when he isn’t on the court. His presence brings energy to the team, especially during close games. Another player who has excelled this year is junior Tyler Harris. “Working on your fundamentals by yourself is helpful, but what’s truly going to take you to the next level is practicing in game-like situations,” said Harris. “I try to pinpoint what my weaknesses are and work on them rather than just practicing what I’m already good at.”

However, Harris is not the only one working, as the coaches of the boys team have been diligently strategizing for the rest of the season. Furthermore, during practices, the boys have been working tirelessly on off-ball movement, screens, and the team dynamic.

Similarly, the girls have been putting in the work. During practices, they focus heavily on figuring out which plays are working and which plays are not. Chaos and unpredictability are huge tools that the girls plan to use when they play highly competitive teams. In addition, almost all the girls can be seen in the gym, putting up extra shots after practice. The girls are constantly working to improve themselves, whether it be individually or as a team.

“Our strategy is just to keep outworking the other team on the floor,” said girls varsity basketball head coach Katie Argall. “We could be down 20 or up 20, but we are going to be playing like it’s a one-point game in the fourth quarter.”

By implementing and executing these strategies, the girls believe that they will make the playoffs again this year.

Likewise, the boys equally believe that if they play as a team and execute their gameplans against tough opponents, they too can make it to the playoffs. 

“We can make it [to the playoffs] if we are able to come together and play as a team, not as individuals,” said Harris.

As the regular season begins to wrap up, both teams’ playoff chances are looking bright. With a lot of hard work and some clever strategizing, the Wildcats might just end up on top.