The Wildcats lost two players to graduation after last season, and coach Buddy Hayford is working hard to ensure his players’ talents are utilized correctly, by recognizing strengths, shuffling positions, and working on team chemistry. This includes teaching junior Sammy Cunningham-Darrah and sophomore Colton Butler how to run the point guard position, to accommodate the loss of junior Savannah Nesbitt for the year to an ACL injury.
In his 26th year as head coach, Hayford has coached winning teams and losing teams, league champions and state champions, and this year is no different from any other. “It’s about preparation, and this year we’re facing some unforeseen adversity at an important position, but we need to be prepared for anything.”
Hayford has put an emphasis on shoring up his guard position by using a rotating cast of players.
“Sammy (Cunningham-Darrah) will see time at any of the three guard positions,” said Hayford. “Her best contributions come from the 2/3 spot, but she will also be called upon to handle the rock. She’s a fast, fast player with a shot that is coming along nicely. She will (also) pressure the opposing team’s point guard.”
Hayford’s depth at guard continues with juniors Jordan Niles and Abby Putnam, both of whom Hayford will be counting on for their shooting abilities.
The inside game looks strong this year for the Wildcats as Abbi Molner, Lexi Reinertson, and Hannah Swanson will dominate the rebounding and defensive game inside.
Hayford says all three are menacing defenders and must rebound and score from inside in order for the team to succeed. Sophomores Jessica Fox and Christina Moore round out the roster, and add depth to the front line of the team.
Reinerston and Molner are Hayford’s captains this year and he expects them to be exceptional leaders.
Hayford’s team went 11-10 overall last year and lost in the first round of playdowns to Winooski on the road. This year he says the daily improvement gives his girls the potential for a solid season.
“This is a very hardworking group. Our hopes hinge on our point guard play and getting stops on the defensive end. As always, we will attempt to play exciting, up-tempo basketball on the offensive end and hard-nosed defense at the other end.”