Fortunately, head coach Chris Brown has a roster filled with terrific athletes.
“Even though some of those nine returners didn’t score a lot last year, they got great experience,” Brown said. “You couple that with the fact that these kids are great athletes and it bodes well for us.”
As for where this season’s point will come from, the first name to come up is senior Logan Park. A 5-foot 10-inch forward, and the lone captain of the squad, Park returns this year bigger and stronger with even sharper skills, and is expected to be “a real catalyst” for the offense, according to Brown.
He’ll be joined in the frontcourt by 6-foot-3-inch senior center Josh Carpenter-O’Hearn, who added some 20 pounds of muscle in the offseason and flourished on the soccer field this fall. Last season’s sixth man, senior Cooper Pell, will move into the starting lineup this season as a perimeter guard alongside sophomore Jack McHale, and junior Dylan Howe will run the point.
The deep bench includes two freshmen in guards Izaak Park and Colin McHale, as well as an additional sophomore in forward Dylan Dupuis. The four underclassmen help provide some balance for the senior-heavy roster, Brown explained, but will require the players to grow into their roles as the season progresses.
“One of the keys this season will be how we gel as a team,” he said. “Getting the younger players to develop and getting the seniors to lead the way, that would be the ideal. We might not be a great shooting team from outside, but we have great athleticism, which should help us get some offensive production out of defense.”
Which means applying pressure in several different defensive sets to take advantage of that athleticism. And with five more seniors on a deep bench for the Wildcats — including Hayden Reed, Joe Rafus, Paul Johnson, James McGovern, and Connor Dupuis — Brown has the horses to keep the defensive pressure ratcheted up all game.
The season begins this week with the Bob Abrahamson Tournament with Proctor, Otter Valley and Windsor. Then the Wildcats head to the annual Green Mountain Holiday Tournament next week.
“By next week we’ll see a great measure of where we are as a team,” Brown said. “Windsor made it to the semis — like we did — last season, and there’s a good chance we’ll play Mount St. Joseph’s at the holiday tourney, who will be a good test for us.”
Regular season tilts will feature challenges like the Marble Valley League play and Bellows Falls, which fell to the Wildcats twice last season, including an overtime thriller in Whitingham.
“Those will be feisty, competitive games,” Brown said. “And with the boys setting the goal of returning to the semis or better, we’ll see how they play out.”