Last year, the Booneville boys’ basketball team had one of those once-in-a lifetime runs which saw them finish with a 29-4 record and a trip to the state quarterfinals.

While they will be hard-pressed to duplicate that with over 90 percent of their scoring having graduated, Coach Ronnie Denton‘s crew should still bring an exciting brand of basketball to Bearcat Gym this season. Denton will only have two seniors to work with but some sophomores and a newcomer are showing promise.

The LadyCats have a new coach as Tim Goers tries to once again work the magic that got the boys’ team to regionals three times and to State once under his command. He only has eight players to work with, but there is a lot of experience in that group and they have been working very hard in the off-season.

The senior high teams started their season by playing at Lavaca last (Tuesday) night. They will host the Bearcat Classic next week.

BOYS

The Bearcats do not bring anybody back that averaged over 1.5 points per game last season, but they do return many people that saw significant playing time. The two seniors are Andrew Mattson and Keaton Canada, both of which are very good outside shooters. Mattson, at 6-3, will also be asked to do work inside.

Junior Blake Jones will take over at the point guard. He perhaps got the most playing time of any non-starter last season and did get a couple of starts. Classmate Jacob Herrera will be asked to take over a lot of the scoring load, while Zac Costa is a strong defensive player. Costa took a key charge against Waldron’s Payton Brown in the first-round state tournament game last season.

Austin Hill has shown a lot of improvement over the off-season and this year will be counted on to do some scoring, while Jacob Mikles has lost a lot of weight and with that had gained a lot of mobility inside.

The surprise of the Purple-White Game last Tuesday was perhaps junior Jordan Sanchez. At only 6-0, Sanchez, who is in his first year of basketball, gobbled up a lot of offensive rebounds and got putbacks.

The remainder of the team consists of sophomores and some of them will be asked to contribute right away. Guards London Lee and Evan Escobedo showed scoring prowess in junior high last season while Rocky Ross exhibits both quickness and strength and Levi Wilson adds depth inside.

Two more sophomores—Mason Goers and Casey Mattson—will join the team when the team after football season is over. Goers led the junior high in rebounding while Mattson had a promising freshman season cut short by injury.

Denton hopes to have all the growing pains out of the team’s system and have the Cats at their peak by tournament time. The team is very capable of shooting the ball well and Denton says that if that happens, they will do very well indeed.

GIRLS

Coach Tim Goers has a good nucleus to build a team around as he takes charge of the LadyCats, assisted by McKenzie Morris.

Senior Baylee Moses was named All-District last season after a campaign in which she averaged 14.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. She is already over the 500-point mark for her career and is close to 300 rebounds. “I’m looking to her to be the leader of our team,“ the coach said.

Classmate Shelby Posey also had a strong season, averaging about seven points and six rebounds a game. Posey also led the team in charges taken and lately has developed a dangerous outside shot.

Brittnie Maness is the other senior; despite being 5-11, she very much prefers to play on the wing. She can shoot the three but Goers will also ask her to play inside.

The only junior is Lindsay Wallace. After a slow start, Wallace gradually built up her game as the season progressed and became an excellent defensive player that was also capable of helping on the offensive end.

Four sophomores round out the team and all will need to contribute right out of the box. Joleigh Tate was the junior high‘s leading score and rebounder from last season. She plays much in the mold of her mother, former LadyCat standout Mandy Klek. Tate can bring the ball down and yet is a very strong post player. Hayley Roberts is the season record holder for blocked shots in junior high with 43. She will be asked to pick up her rebounding and scoring game.

Heaven Sanchez ran the point very well last season and hit her share of outside shots. She is also a very good ball handler and passer. Brooke Turner, another wing player, has improved her ball handling skills and speed in off-season workouts. This should earn her longer stints on the floor.

While there are only eight players on the team, they are all ready to help in their own way as the LadyCats seek their first regional berth since 2011-12.