This year our Bearcats and Ladycats played their season opening games in the Pick and Shovel Invitational hosted by Hartshorne. One could say our athletics program has undergone many changes in the last school year, losing Coach Branton, gaining a new Head Coach, for both basketball and football and a new Athletic Director. Our new Athletic Director is Coach Speer who hails from Marietta. Our new basketball Coach and also Middle School Assistant Principle is Mr. Brandon Linley, who comes from Wright City, and is the son of our beloved girls Coach Austin Linley, welcome to Antlers Coaches!!
The LadyCats were the first to take the court, playing against the Wister Wildcats. Our Ladies were ready to take the court and start the season off fiercely and showing no mercy. The LadyCats started the game almost with a vengeance and score 23 points in the first period alone ending the 1st in a score of 23-9 LadyCats. Sr. Kendie Bryant came out, as always, clean, polished, and reliable scoring 15 points, 3 assists, and only 1 turnover for the game. Coach Linley was determined to run a fast pace offense, giving Hartshorne little room for error, and our LadyCats ended the first half up by ten, 39-29. Sr. Cheyenne Simpson was next in line on the stat sheet with 13 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds, and 1 steal. Freshman JaLeigh Holder and new addition to the team came out and stole the show in the second half with her ability to handle and move the ball with 10 points, and 3 rebounds. Freshman Neely Noel, who is also new to our varsity team, was surprisingly calm for her first varsity game and able to blend right in working well with the team with 8 points, and only 1 turnover for the game. Our Ladies were able to run away with their first victory of the season ending in a 20 point lead 74-54. Great Job Ladies!!
In their season opening game our Bearcats were matched with tournament hosts, Hartshorne Miners. . After losing last year’s 3point shooter and post Bryce Martin and our fast-break man Harlan House our new coach had some big holes to fill in their game. In the first period our boys were able to set up a comfortable pace with Coach using a fast 3/2 offense. I must say new kid on the block, Sr. Zack Speer has been fun to watch, considering up until a few months ago he didn’t know any of these boys, let alone his coach. His ability to read the floor, move the ball, and fall in with the team has been impressive to watch. Sr. Tanner Brown was this game’s leading scorer with 21 points, as always making it look effortless all the while. Sr.’s Drew McKnight and Zack Speer each had 8 points apiece contributing to the Bearcat offensive efforts. Our Bearcats closed out the first half with a score of 28-21 Bearcats. Coach Linley’s halftime looker room talk must have been a very motivational one because when the boys came back from the half they were ready to show us what they could do scoring 25 points in the 3rd period alone. . Coach Linley was able to make use of Sr. Zack Speer and Jr. Jake Johnson running his 4 out 1 in offense, closing the 3rd period in a 53-33 score. Jr. Jack Johnson has shown dramatic improvement making use of our post position playing larger than he is and was able to rack up 6 points for our Bearcats, helping secure our first victory ending in a 65-46 score. Great Job Bearcats!!
In the second round of the Pick and Shovel Invitational our Ladies were set to play the Wilburton Diggers. The first period looked promising and tightly matched for our girls ending only one point up 9-8. Sr. Kendie Bryant was again the leading scorer with 13 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 block. In the second period Wilburton started to take a slight lead over our Ladies, making use of the Free Throw line ending the half 28-17 Diggers. Sr.’s Meagan Wilbourn, Cheyenne Simpson, and Emma Branton had 6 points each trying to rally the LadyCats in the second half. Sr. Meagan Wilbourn is always impressive and fun to watch under the board, posted up, playing twice her size with 8 rebounds for this game. Freshmen Neely Noel and JaLeigh Holder contributed 5 points each to the score board. As hard as our Ladies fought to stay in the game, the Lady Diggers use of the Free-Throw line would lead them to a 48-40 victory in the second round over our LadyCats.
Moving on to the second round of our boy’s play, where our Bearcats were paired with the Wister Wildcats. Our Bearcats started out at a medium pace ending the first period 10-4 Bearcats. Sr. Tanner Brown had an amazing defensive game this round with 6 rebounds, 2 steals, and several “Not In My House” moments with 5 swats. Tanners ability to bring the ball down the court, handle and move the ball, read the court, score at will, and give the assist make him an almost necessary element for our Bearcats. The Wildcats weren’t ready to go without a fight however, closing the margin ending the half with only a small lead 20-15 Bearcats. Again whatever Coach Linley says in the locker room at halftime must be good, proven by the amount we scored in the second half ( 21 points) to theirs ( 11 points). Sr. Morgan Nabors’ defensive skills and fast footwork make him hard to get around, and he was able to rack up 7 points, 1 assist, 4 steals, 1 block and zero turnovers for the night. Sr. David Jobe’s fast foot work coupled with Nabors made it close to hard for Wister to drive in. Sr. Zack Speer was second on the stat sheet with 10 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal and only 1 turnover. This game would prove to be an easy win for our Bearcats ending with a score of 41-26 Bearcats, moving them on to the Championship round of play. Due to weather this tournament had to be postponed until further notice. Congratulations Bearcats and LadyCats!! It’s the great start to a promising season!! Stats will be included in final write up.View more articles in: