Wildcats at the breakPublished 10:12am Friday, December 27, 2013
The main theme during Benjamin Russell’s boys basketball practices has been a refusal to be average.
Well, so far this season, this mantra has stuck, as the Wildcats have roared out to a 9-1 start and the No. 9 ranking in Class 5A.
With area play set to begin after the winter break, here’s a recap of BRHS hoops to this point in the season.
The season so far
With a suffocating defense and timely baskets, the BRHS Wildcats have out-clawed, outfought and in some cases, outclassed the majority of the opponents they have faced this season. The team ran out to a 9-0 start before taking a four-point loss at Dadeville on Dec. 20.
Besides that hiccup, things have been pretty much smooth sailing for Jeff Hines and the Wildcats this season. They are in great shape to surpass last season’s win total and look poised for a playoff run. If you were to ask Hines, however, he’d tell you that the team isn’t playing its best basketball yet, which is exactly how he likes it. With the area schedule tipping off soon, here is where he wants the team to show what it’s really made of.
With the graduation of Javoskie McNeal and Woo Varner, the onus was on guard Ronnie Stacy to take the next step as the team would go as he went. He’s done just that, as he has filled the stat sheet in numerous ways for the Wildcats.
Stacy leads the team in scoring, assists and steals. He has been the deciding factor in many of the wins Benjamin Russell has compiled to this point of the season. However, an injury to his meniscus has sidelined the explosive senior for a few weeks.
In addition to Stacy’s exploits, the Wildcats have received significant contributions from the complementary pieces of the team. Rod Hunter and Q. Johnson have provided scrappy play and toughness on the glass, and Hines has said that Hunter has played as good a brand of basketball as anyone else has on the team.
In addition, guard Dijon Leonard and Timmy Lawson have also played well. Lawson, a freshman, has shown the ability to be a spark plug on the offensive side of the ball, and Leonard has been a X-factor in a few of the games BRHS have taken the victory in. The continued growth and contributions of these players will be key as the Wildcats head into the meat of their schedule without Stacy.
Questions heading into 2014
With Stacy set to miss a few weeks due to his injury, the area slate is going to be even more arduous. However, in a 46-44 win versus Childersburg as well as the 67-63 loss to Dadeville, the Wildcats have shown that with or without Stacy, they will compete and they can still be a good team.
However, the need is there for a No. 1 scoring option, and it appears that junior guard Tyrik Norris is set to step into that role for the time being.
Norris dropped 30 points in the loss to Dadeville, showing a willingness to attack the basket and some tough-mindedness as he knocked down key free throws that kept the Wildcats in the game.
Additionally, senior guard Dra Graham continues to find his shooting stroke. When he’s on, he’s as lethal from long range as anyone in the area, but his usually potent three-ball has been hit or miss in the early going. If Graham can hit his stride, the team will become that much more dangerous.
Also something to watch for will be the health of Stacy going forward. It will be interesting to see what kind of player Stacy will be when he returns from the meniscus injury that has him sidelined for the next few weeks.
If he returns without missing a beat, the future could be bright for BRHS basketball this season.
BRHS plays at Marbury High School Jan. 3.