The Hobbton Wildcat basketball team kicks off its season tonight with an endowment game against Midway. The regular season gets underway Dec. 1 against the Raiders again followed by another county rival, Union, on Dec. 2.
“We lost eight players off last year’s team. We have four returning,” said Wildcat coach Alphonso Hooper. “Already, it’s been a slow process trying to find a team chemistry with seven new players coming in. Any time you loose eight players and have seven new ones the learning curve is kind of long. We are rebuilding after loosing those I had coached for four years.”
Hooper said he saw some good things from the team a week or so ago when they played in the Clinton jamboree.
“We also saw a lot we have to work on. I think our strength this year is going to be our guards because of our guards’ quickness and athleticism. We are going to try some up tempo things and move the game a little faster. We got freshman Jordan Pearsall straight from middle school. He gives us some size and will play a lot of post.”
But size remains an issue, the coach noted. “We don’t have a lot of size compared to the last couple of years. We will be inexperienced. We love to have seniors, but once they become seniors they graduate and other guys come in.’
As with any new season and new team, Hooper acknowledged there were challenges but said he and the team still had high hopes.
“Our expectations are high. We think we will be able to compete in the conference. We have a tough non-conference schedule with North Johnston, Midway and Union. We will also be playing in the tournament in Clinton. So, the non-conference is going to get us ready for the conference. We finished fifth last year but we had an overall good year last year. I was pleased with it and we are looking to build on that,” Hooper said.
“I think our biggest surprise this year is going to be Cody Stewart. Over the summer Cody went to the military and lost about 60 pounds. He is more athletic and able to move up and down the court. Along with senior Walter Thompson, Omar Farrior, who has been in the program three years, and Raekwon Bryant, we are looking for a big year out of those guys.”