Senior-laden Bobcats finish offseason
The Gilmer High Bobcats eclipsed 10 wins last basketball season for the first time in four years.
The Cats followed that campaign with their best offseason over the same timespan, which culminated with the annual alumni game June 28.
Gilmer’s offseason schedule began shortly after the school year ended. GHS coach Jordan Hice and staff used June to partially focus on an offensive shortcoming.
“We’re a fast team so we’ve really been stretching the fast break and trying to get easy buckets,” Hice noted. “When we slow down for our half-court offense, it’s almost like we don’t know how to wait to find the best shot. After we pass the ball around for 20 or 30 seconds we just want to jack up dumb shots.
“Sometimes that works in our favor, like in the alumni game, where we were hitting a bunch of outside shots. On other days, we may not hit those outside shots and they don’t know how to come back from that.”
The Bobcats’ varsity was made up of nine juniors and a senior last season. They return a team steeped in upperclassmen, and Hice voiced his excitement for the season and mentioned some players GHS will continue to depend upon.
“David Smith is returning to point guard, and whether he’s hitting outside shots or not, is quick enough to attack the rim, draw defenses and find shooters. Kell Weaver has been a starter since he was a sophomore and is big and tall. He does a good job of cutting to the basket to get rebounds for easy points,” Hice said.
“Carter (Hice) and (Coady) Cobb are back and have been helping us out a bunch. Tripp Pierce is a great outside threat, and we have sophomores Braden Jenkins and Carson Pierce coming off the bench.”
Hice was determined to test his veteran lineup against tall and fast opponents.
“We wanted to put our guys in pressure situations by playing some really good teams that kept us away from fast breaks and made us run half court offenses,” Hice said of summer exhibitions.
Defensively, Hice put a heavy emphasis on running man-to-man defense last offseason. After such a concentrated effort, he changed it up a bit this year.
“We took a better defensive approach this year and didn’t just run man the whole time,” he said. “We switched back and forth (between defenses), still ran man a lot, pressed a lot and worked the 1-3-1 zone a good bit. We always stress defense and trying to keep teams around 50 points.”
The Bobcats made a short trip up Highway 515 to participate in a camp held at Union County High School. They also ventured to the Volunteer State for camps at Tennessee Tech and Middle Tennessee State.
“We were 12-11 over the summer,” Hice said of Gilmer’s record. “We haven’t been close to winning 12 games since JoeBob (Charles) and that group graduated (in 2014). We’re looking at one of the best summers we’ve had in a long time, and we hope that carries over to the season.”
Though, he noted, the Bobcats have to learn how to close out opponents and secure victories.
“We had some games where we were up by a ton of points at halftime and ended up losing,” Hice said. “We have to be able to maintain consistency throughout. It’s like the alumni game. We were up by 15, almost 20 points and then slowly start taking it easy, and the other team starts to score and soon it’s a five-point game.”
GHS will have the remainder of the summer off and begin preseason training in the fall.