Wildcats off to quick start thanks to balanced attack

Williamsburg’s Evan Barge, a junior, has stepped into a substantial scoring role averaging 13.0 points per game.
Williamsburg’s Evan Barge, a junior, has stepped into a substantial scoring role averaging 13.0 points per game.

By Chris Chaney
Sun staff

A unique beginning to the Williamsburg basketball season proved to be no problem for head coach Dan McKibben’s Wildcats. A football-induced late start bore no ill effects as the team got off to a 3-0 start, winning by an average of 16 points, but a difficult weekend exposed some weaknesses as the Wildcats dropped two games on Dec. 13 and 14.

“You learn a lot in five games,” McKibben explained. “We’ve had a few boys step up and we had a good start winning our first three games. I think in each of those three games we improved a little bit and got better each game.

“This weekend we saw two of the better teams we’re going to play all year and we saw some things that we need to work on to get better in those areas. Overall, we’re pretty much where we expected to be at this point.”

Wins over Gamble Montessori, New Miami and Clermont Northeastern got the Wildcats off to a perfect start, but back-to-back losses against Georgetown on Dec. 13 and Fayetteville on Dec. 14 have blemished the Wildcats’ record.

“(Georgetown) was very physical and athletic,” McKibben said. “It seemed that the first three games we played, fouls were called a bit more closely; hand checks and things like that.

“We weren’t moving our feet on defense like we needed to and got out of position a few times, which got some key people in foul trouble.”

The early foul trouble forced Williamsburg to put players in roles that they weren’t necessarily accustomed to and, as McKibben put it, things snowballed in the second quarter inflating a one-point game to begin the frame into a 39-23 halftime deficit.

The G-Men’s halftime lead proved to be insurmountable, handing the Wildcats their first loss of the season 72-43.

Back at it the very next day, Fayetteville proved to be a worthy opponent as well. DJ Iles, the Rockets’ all-time leading scorer dropped 40 on the Wildcats, giving Burg their second loss in two days.

Still early in the season, the Wildcats are right in the mix in the Southern Buckeye Conference’s National Division. A snow-effected start to the season has a few teams with only three games played, but as things start to even out around the first of the year, Williamsburg expects to be right there for the remainder.

The Wildcats feature a quartet of scoring threats that could lead the team in scoring on any given night, which McKibben predicted would be the case in the preseason. Josh Wells, Evan Barge, Colton Brown and Nick Felts are all hovering around double-digit scoring averages.

“All four of those guys are very positive and have good attitudes,” McKibben said. “They work very hard. It’s not just the scoring points, but the leadership that those guys have shown, which is what you want to see out of your upperclassmen.”

With a cast of role players doing their part, the Wildcats are one of the deepest teams in the area and that depth will continue to be a key going forward for McKibben’s squad.

At 1-1 in the SBC, Williamsburg has a pair of league games this week before a month’s worth of out-of-conference opponents grace the schedule. Traveling to Blanchester Tuesday and heading to Felicity on Dec. 20, McKibben said that the league is shaping up to be what many expected it to be.

“I think it’s what we expected,” he said “with Georgetown being the team to beat and Batavia off to a good start. As for Felicity and Blanchester we really didn’t know what to expect there with new coaches, but from what I understand they’re playing hard and on any given night anything can happen.”