This is the sixth installment of a six-part series of columns that look ahead to the upcoming high school sports year for our six area schools.
– June 21 — SCC Titans
– June 24 — Yates Center Wildcats
– June 27 — Crest Lancers
– July 1 — Humboldt Cubs
– July 8 — Iola Mustangs/Fillies
– Today — Marmaton Valley Wildcats
With a small senior class, the Marmaton Valley boys teams lacked a lot of experience going into this past year.But what was a handicap last year allows the Wildcats to return a majority of their athletes for 2017-18.
The basketball and baseball teams are the least affected by graduation with no senior starters last season and they will each be looking to make tremendous strides this season.
In addition to not have a single senior on last year’s team, the Wildcat basketball program also had a new coach with Jason Bauer taking the reins.
All of this transition led to some growing pains for the young Wildcats.
Not only were the Wildcats young, but they were also small with no player standing over 6-feet tall.
The Wildcats struggled throughout the season, but late in the year, they began to come together with the team playing a scrappy, hard-nosed brand of basketball.
The leader of this resurgence was point guard Justice Pugh, whose tough defense and relentless drives to the basket set the tone for the entire team.
Pugh will be back for his senior year this season and will be a looking to lead the Wildcats to new heights.
Along with Pugh, the Wildcats will have three other seniors with Josh Wise, Brock Hall and Korbin Smith.
Smith was the team’s primary forward last season as the tallest player on the team at 6-foot. Despite having the tough assignment of going against taller competition each night, Smith embraced his role inside and did a lot of the dirty work for the Wildcats inside.
Wise and Hall, along with junior Gage Griffith, Caiden Elloit and Isaac Heskett give Bauer a lot of experience around Smith and Pugh.
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