Buckhorn boys’ basketball coach John Noble knows he’ll have some work to do in getting his young Wildcat team ready for the postseason, and he also knows that his players have the talent to pose some major problems for opposing teams.
Noble lost his top seven players from last season’s 54th District champions, including the 14th Region’s player of the year in Matt Day. His returning team, however, while not overly experienced, will boast what he termed a talented roster.
“It’s going to be a very young team,” Noble said. “We’ve got a couple upperclassmen, but the bulk of the team is going to be primarily underclassmen who are very talented for their age.”
But even with talent, Noble acknowledged that in terms of physicality and experience, they are still mostly freshmen and sophomores who will need to gain some experience in actual game situations. Offensively, Buckhorn should be able to put some points on the board out of the gate, though it is on the defensive side of the ball that Noble said the early focus is being placed.
“I think it’s going to be one of the better shooting teams that I’ve had,” he said. “Defensively, we’ve got a ways to go, but of course it’s the middle of November, so we need to have a ways to go at this point.”
Though many of the team’s varsity players are young, a handful of them do have experience at the varsity level. Noble will expect Peyton Cooper, Connor Hoskins, and Caleb Estep to step up this season, with Josh Crank and Dylan Cole stepping in to produce as well. In terms of upperclassmen, Richard Stidham and Josh Griffith will also log some minutes on the court this season.
The Wildcats will also have two incoming freshmen in Ryan Boggs and James Blair who could also play significant roles this season.
Buckhorn’s teams under John Noble are known for the their ability to bring full court pressure and speed up the tempo when necessary, and the coach said at present he expects the 2012-13 squad will thrive on that up-tempo game.
“I think we’re going to attempt to play a little faster than we did last year,” Noble said. “Last year’s team was one of those rare teams that if you could play fast, we could play fast. If you slowed it down, we could slow it down and be comfortable playing both ways. I think for this team to be effective, especially in the early going, we’re going to have to get up and down a little bit.”
Buckhorn’s fans will have several opportunities to see the Wildcats playing at home this year. Last year’s squad played only eight home games all season, and the first wasn’t until mid-December. The Wildcats will kick off the regular season at home this year against Owsley County on Nov. 29. The team will hit the road for Berea to take on Deming School on Dec. 1 before returning home to face Shelby Valley on Dec. 4, a game that should be an interesting matchup against one of the 15th Region’s better teams.
Buckhorn’s schedule this season, he added, was crafted with getting their young players experience and ready for the postseason. “We tried to schedule a lot of teams that were solid last year that have the bulk of their team back,” Noble said, “to let our kids play against experienced players with some talent.”
Buckhorn Wildcats 2012-13 Basketball Schedule
Nov. 29 – Owsley County, Home, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 1 – Deming, @ Berea College, 10 a.m. (Roland Wierwille Shootout)
Dec. 4 – Shelby Valley, Home, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 7 – Wolfe County, Home, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 8 – Paintsville, @ Letcher Central, 12 p.m. (Whitaker Bank Cougar Classic)
Dec. 10 – Jackson City, Home, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 12 – Leslie County, Home, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 14 – Harlan, Home, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 18 – Breathitt County, Away, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 21 – East Jessamine, @ Madison Southern (Peoples Bank Classic)
Dec. 27 – Knox Central, @ Williamsburg High School, 1 p.m. (Williamsburg Holiday Tournament)
Jan. 4 – Jackson City, Away, 6 p.m.
Jan. 8 – Powell County, Away, 7 p.m.
Jan. 10 – Cordia, Away, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 12 – Jenkins, Away, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 14 – Lee County, Away, 7 p.m.
Jan. 21 – Jackson County, Away, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 28 – Leslie County, Away, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 1 – Lee County, Home, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 5 – Knott Central – Away
Feb. 8 – Powell County, Home, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 9 – Estill County, Away, 6 p.m.
Feb. 12 – Letcher Central, Home, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 18-23 54th District Tournament @ Perry Central High School