“They continued doing that whether we won or lost,” head coach Mike Wright said. “It’s symbolic, to me, of the way they locked their hearts.”
That togetherness led the Wildcats to a 17-8 overall record this season, including the championship trophy from that tournament in December. The season ended last Tuesday in a 61-44 loss to Livingston Central in the first round of the 5th District Tournament, but Wright said the season should still be viewed as positive overall.
“You can make stats into whatever you want them to be, but for the most part, we had a really positive season,” Wright said. “I feel like we lost about three games we shouldn’t have, but you can’t win them all.”
During the summer, it was clear that this season’s ‘Cats would rely heavily on young players, with Jaylan Mount and Chris McKenzie being the only returning seniors and sophomore Deonquez Nance being the only other player with a season’s worth of varsity experience.
“We started the season with four young kids playing a major role for us,” Wright said. “We couldn’t beat hardly anybody at summer camp, and we struggled at the beginning of the season. I think us and Caldwell County were the two youngest teams in the 2nd Region.”
Mount and McKenzie were Trigg’s bigs in the post, with Mount finishing the season with an average of 11.7 points and 6.6 rebounds a game and McKenzie with 5.7 points and 3.8 rebounds. Other district teams were short on upper classmen this season, as well.
“Our two seniors gave us some size down low and some experience, and they’ll both be hard to replace,” Wright said. “Livingston loses only one starter, and he was a role player. Lyon County has three starters back and an eighth grader who played in the district tournament. We lose two good seniors, but we have a lot of good young players who got good experience this year.”
Nance was Trigg’s team leader, averaging 18.2 points, 4.2 steals and 4.1 assists per game.
“Our team next year starts with Deonquez Nance,” Wright said. “He is the heart and soul of our team, and we look for him to be a leader for us as a junior next year.”
Jakelze Martin and Zac Snodgrass were the only juniors to see significant playing time this season, and their roles could increase next year, Wright said. Sophomore David Wease was a starter most of this season and served as a solid all-around threat, and freshmen Cole Gardner, Luke McKenzie and Brien Dossett were key contributors. Wright said he expects the most improvement in 2011-12 from Dossett.
“He has so much potential, and I think he showed in the last game of the year what he’s capable of doing,” Wright said of Dossett’s 10-point performance against Livingston in the district tournament.
Overall, Wright said, this year’s ‘Cats displayed the kind of effort asked of them by their coaches.
“For the most part, our kids played hard, unselfish and learned to execute a lot of things,” Wright said. “Ultimately, if you finish your season with a big win or a championship, it makes the entire process better. But when you have a good regular season, that is still important. Playing that many young kids, it was a big accomplishment for them to do what they did.”
Though the season ended earlier than hoped, it provided the foundation for more success in the coming years, Wright said.
“There were ups and downs for a few individuals and a few instances where we weren’t perfectly together, but for the most part, they were as together as any team I’ve seen, especially for such a young team,” Wright said. “I think they can really be something special in the future.”