GRAFTON— After the COVID-19 pandemic postponed the start of their season, the Bearcat basketball team is now ready to hit the hardwood, and get their much anticipated season underway.
Although last year the team proved to be remarkably successful for the group, Head Coach Michael Johnson noted that this year will be somewhat of a rebuilding period for the program.
Leading the team alongside Johnson are assistant coaches Hartsel Keener, Arthur Knight and Gentry Shrewsbury, who are all anticipating great things from this group of Cats, despite the setbacks caused by the pandemic.
One of those setbacks is that the Bearcats will be playing a shortened season, as their typical twenty-two game season will give way to a sixteen-games, with sectionals being held as normal.
In addition, due to the potential spread of the COVID-19 virus, fans admitted into games will be limited. The program recently announced that for the time being, because of the situation surrounding the virus, only those family members of the player and coaching staff will be permitted entry into the contests.
As everyone knows, the fans at any GHS Boys Basketball game are the proverbial sixth man, keeping the energy high for the team to feed off of.
“The boys will have to learn this year to create their own enthusiasm and energy for top level play because we will have a reduced crowd,” commented Johnson.
However, the team and its coaches are prepared to conquer these setbacks, and will be working just as hard as they would any other year, as they focus on the positives.
One of those positives is the return of standout Blake Moore after he missed much of the season last year due to an injury.
“Blake is a very athletic young man with unlimited potential, his presence was missed last year,” stated Johnson.
“I also see so much potential in our junior class. We really have some boys who will be getting a lot more playing time at a higher level this year, and that will only make our program stronger as we progress through the season,” he added.
Returning for the Cats this season along with Moore are Ryan Maier, Kaden Delaney, and Tanner Moats.
“We have a bunch of boys who have really been putting in the work during this break on their own, and I am extremely optimistic about the upcoming season,” Johnson shared.
Johnson revealed that his team will be focusing primarily on defense early on in the season.
“You know, you might have a night when you don’t shoot it well, but the one constant that can produce turnovers and make plays is a solid defense. We are looking for a strong defensive showing and stretching the floor more this year. I’m just looking forward to getting started and hope to hit the ground running,” he elaborated.
The Bearcats plan to start conditioning on February 8, with their first game on March 6 vs. East Fairmont.
The staff at the Mountain Statesman wants to wish the GHS Bearcats Boys Basketball team luck on their upcoming season.