Bobcats in rebuilding mode after 24-win season
By Scott Loftis
The Berryville Bobcats open their 2018-2019 basketball season on Friday, hosting Eureka Springs, and coach Brent Compton said the Bobcats will look a little different this year.
Berryville lost five seniors from last year’s team that won 24 games and reached the Class 4A state tournament — including its top scorers. As a result, the Bobcats will employ a different style.
“We’re going to be more of a grinder, more of a physical team,” Compton said.
The Bobcats didn’t lose all of their top players from a year ago, however. All-state point guard Zakk Webb, a 5-9 playmaker who was voted the top player in the 4A-1 conference last season, returns for his senior year and should provide leadership for a young team.
Smith averaged 13 points and 3.2 assists a game as a junior.
“He’s returning and we’re sure excited,” Compton said.
Senior guards Kyler Kendrick, Rayden Peden and Kooper Logan all saw significant playing time last season. Logan, a top running back for the Berryville football team, is dealing with a knee issue.
The Bobcats have a big junior class that Compton is optimistic can give his team some quality minutes.
“We have potential to have some really good depth,” he said.
The junior class includes guard Trenton Hutchinson, Chris Lehr and Tyler Payne and forwards Austin Franklin and Colton Davidson.
A pair of sophomores also could fit into the Bobcats’ rotation. Forward J.D. Smith is a 6-1 athlete who started at quarterback for the Berryville football team, and 5-10 guard Landon Chester could also contribute. Chester is also dealing with a knee issue, Compton said.
Compton said the Bobcats’ schedule is probably the toughest in his 15 seasons as head coach.
The schedule includes a home-and-home series with Harrison, a Class 5A team that went 26-5 last season with the losses coming against traditional state powers such as North Little Rock and Little Rock Parkview.
Compton is hoping the rigorous schedule pays dividends late in the season.
“Our group is a work in progress,” he said. “We have a chance to be strong at the end, if we can get through that schedule and keep some confidence.”
The tough schedule begins immediately against a Eureka Springs team that will be playing its 11th game of the season and is led by all-state senior Garrett Cross, a 6-5 point guard.
“They have a good squad this year,” Compton said. “We’re going to be tested right away.”