• 73°

GROWING WITH EACH GAME: Young Wildcats figuring out keys to success

The Florala Wildcats (5-4) have came out strong to start the 2017-18 basketball season and look to continue to improve into the new year.

“I think we have started off great,” Wildcat head coach Troy Stewart said. “These guys have really been doing well. This group of juniors and seniors are the ones that I started with and the young guys are really stepping up.”

Stewart said that he has three seniors and three juniors, but his starting five usually includes one senior, one junior, one sophomore and two freshman.

“The young guys have really been doing a great job,” Stewart said. “These guys have been in the system with me and now that they are on varsity, they have really bought into the program and it’s starting to pay off.”

The level of intensity at practice has been something that Stewart said has really helped the Wildcats.

“Our practices have been intense,” Stewart said. “This is the most talented group that I’ve had since being here. They push each other hard at practice. This year our we are trying to practice harder than we play and that’s making the games easier.”

The team might not be the tallest, but Stewart said they make up for that with a never give up attitude.

“We are young and small without a lot size inside,” Stewart said. “I’ve only got two true post players, but what we lack in size we make up for in speed, quickness and ability to handle the ball. We have guards that can play inside, outside and they can shoot the three. In the four years I’ve been in Florala, this team has the ability to score more than any team I’ve ever had. We don’t just have one guy that’s leading scoring every night. They all contribute and that makes it really hard for teams to scout us because you can’t tell which guy is going to step up on any given night.”

With the lack of size down low, Stewart said the Wildcats provide constant full-court pressure.

“We want to make it known that we are going to be in your face for 32 minutes,” Stewart said. “On defense we are mismatched with guards guarding post guys so our goal is to keep them on our side of the court. Our mentality is pressure, pressure pressure. We want to make it hard for them to set up their offense.”

Stewart said that he has been impressed with the way his team has played and he looks forward to seeing what the team can do when area play begins next month.

“It’s a coach’s dream to have a team with this much talent,” Stewart said. “I hope that we can turn some eyes this year and show people that Florala is back on the map and able to compete with anyone. The football team had some success and success breeds success. That success and winning attitude has carried over to basketball season. I’m excited to see what the year holds.”