By Chris Chaney
Before the beginning of the 2012-13 season, the Southern Buckeye Conference coaches didn’t see enough in the Williamsburg Wildcats to pick them to finish higher than fourth in the National Division, yet with four games left in the regular season, the Wildcats seem to have the second-place slot all but locked up.
“Of course, we hoped to win a few more games than we did,” Williamsburg head coach Dan McKibben said. “We had a few close ones that didn’t go our way, but if we take care of business and win our next two league games, we’ll finish second in the league. Most of the coaches had us picked at fourth, so that’s a good thing.”
The Wildcats, at 8-9 overall and 5-3 in the SBC, have far exceeded those expectations. Going 4-1 through the first leg of the conference season, Burg put the other team’s on notice before the calendar turned to 2013.
With the exception of a two-point win over Clermont Northeastern and their only league loss to Georgetown, the Wildcats rolled over their SBC opponents rather easily, winning the other three conference games by an average of 15 points.
Despite the quick start that saw the Wildcats get to 6-2 by the end of December, the injury bug has jumped up and bitten the team, which has adversely affected the outcome through a difficult January stretch of games.
“We had a couple seniors step up and play reasonably well,” McKibben said of the first two-thirds of the season. “But our biggest issue right now is that we have some injuries. Three guys are out that have been contributing consistently.”
The Wildcats are paced by senior leader and Williamsburg all-time leading scorer, Kendal Young. Young is averaging 20.6 points per game, which is best in the SBC and top-15 in the city. Young also leads the Wildcats in rebounds (8.3 rpg) and steals (1.9 spg).
“We need him to score every night,” McKibben said of Young. “He’s not only a scorer for us, but he’s the leading rebounder as well. He’s averaging close to a double what our next player does, so we rely on him for both.”
Young has a solid supporting cast of talent, headed up by fellow seniors Ryan Boggs, Max Madsen and Luke Workman. Tanner Supe, a 6-foot-6 senior and the only true center on the team, has been sidelined with an injury, putting much of the scoring pressure on the guards.
The Wildcats have the talent to score with anyone, boasting eight players who average over four points a piece, but the size problems create a disadvantage on the defensive end of the court.
The Wildcats have struggled more so on their second turn through the league, dropping two of their first three games to Batavia and Georgetown.
Still with four games left on the schedule and two of those being against conference foes, the Wildcats have aspirations of finishing above .500 for the season as well as in the league.
Dependent upon the injuries that the team is dealing with, the Wildcats hope to be back on track as they wrap up their regular season and turn an eye to the SBC Championships as well as the sectional tournament.
Williamsburg hosted Blanchester on Tuesday, Feb. 5, a game whose final wasn’t available at the time of this printing, and will finish out their second tour through the SBC-National with Senior Night on Feb. 8 against Felicity.
After those two tilts, the Wildcats face Paint Valley and St. Bernard the following week prior to the inaugural SBC Basketball Championship where they will likely face Goshen.
“We have four regular season games left and then the SBC Tournament, where right now, we’ll face Goshen, which was one of those games that we let slip away,” said McKibben breaking down the team’s remaining schedule. “The next four or five are games that we are hoping to win and it would be nice to be on a little roll heading into the sectional tournament.”