Stewart looks to lead the Wildcats to successful season

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Florala Wildcats are excited about this upcoming basketball season.


Wildcats boys and girls basketball head coach Troy Stewart is entering his second season with the Wildcats.


“We will look better than we did last year,” said Stewart. “We have stressed fundamentals and conditioning in the offseason, so we will be in much better shape in those areas.”


On the boys’ side, the Wildcats are returning all starters and will be led by sophomore Khalen Ball, junior Avery McNeill, and senior Ray Hall.


“Ball has really stepped up as leader for us last year, and I expect that to continue into this season,” said Stewart. “Avery makes such great decisions on the court when moving the ball around.”


McNeill was also the Wildcats’ starting quarterback for the football team, and Hall was his favorite wide receiver.


On Nov. 14 and 15 the Wildcats will host the Deep South/Sand Mountain Shootout with teams from Boaz, Sylvania, Andalusia, Red Level and Florala.


The Friday Nov. 14 game between the Boaz Pirates and the Florala Wildcats will pit Stewart against his former high school coach Ben Clark, now at helm at Boaz.


“We chose to play the game at Pleasant Home because that is where we are both from, and he (Clark) wanted his son to play, just once, on the same floor that he played and coached on,” said Stewart.


The tournament will give the Wildcats a chance to see how they match up against bigger schools, Stewart said.


“I really want us to build this program up, so these kids can look back and reflect on the things they accomplished as a team,” said Stewart.


On the girls’ side, the Wildcats lost two seniors from last year’s team, and will be playing with a low number of players.


“We don’t have a lot of girls this year, but the ones that we have will be in great shape for the season,” said Stewart.


Sophomore Shay Brooks will be a one of the leaders for the Wildcats this season.


“Shay really stepped up as a leader last season as a freshman, and she has the ability to finish strong to the basket from anywhere on the court,” Stewart said.


Stewart also expects freshman Morgan Jackson to be a leader. Jackson was pulled up last year from the eight grade team to help the Lady Wildcats on varsity.


Stewart said that Jackson is a good scorer who finishes strong around the basket.


Senior Keandra Avan will also be a key piece for the Lady Wildcats this season. Avan is a center, who Stewart says, “Can handle the ball like a point.”


“I’m really excited about my second year,” said Stewart. “I have a lot of players returning on both the girls and boys roster, so we are looking forward to hosting the area tournament and hopefully making a run in the playoffs.”