Talent-laden Bobcats aiming to skip typical rebuilding phase
When a high school basketball team has the kind of success the Berryville Bobcats experienced last season, it’s often followed by a bit of rebuilding over the next couple of years.
Even though it’s still very early, however, indications are that the Bobcats might not have reached their peak just yet.
Technically, Berryville returns three starters from the team that finished 22-7, advanced to the second round of the Class 4A state tournament and came within less than 90 seconds of ending defending state champion Magnolia’s 53-game winning streak.
In reality, however, the Bobcats will have four players with starting experience when next season tips off — bolstered by the return of senior point guard Kade Davidson.
“Experience coming back from last year is the best maybe that I’ve ever had,” said Berryville coach Brent Compton, who has more than 300 career victories. “A lot of times you make the regional or you make the state tournament and then you have a few years where you’ve lost everybody, and that’s not the case this year. We have a chance to build off the state tournament and hopefully go back there. And I haven’t really had that opportunity in the previous 17 years. We’ve had our good team and and then there’s been a few down years, so to speak. So we’re really excited.”
Davidson’s return is certainly cause for excitement among Berryville fans. After starting every game as a sophomore for the Bobcats, Davidson suffered a broken leg in the second game of his junior season and missed the rest of the season. But Compton said Davidson is back on the court and has played well this summer.
“He’s doing well,” Compton said. “With what he went through, any kind of little bump and bruise kind of worries us, of course. He got banged up in a tournament over in Fayetteville and we gave him a few days off and he came back strong this last week.”
Davidson’s return will allow junior Nate Allen to move from the point guard spot — where he took over as a sophomore last season and helped lead the Bobcats’ postseason success — to shooting guard.
Senior Weston Teague is back in the middle after recording 20 points, 18 rebounds and 10 blocks in the near-upset of Magnolia. Junior Jake Wilson had 15 points in that game and returns to start at small forward.
Berryville’s other starting spot, at power forward, is up for grabs between junior Jack Dignan and senior Kennon Helmlinger. Junior D.J. Colbert will be an asset as a capable shooter coming off the bench, while juniors Chet Hudgens and Noah Gilmore add depth in the middle behind Teague.
The Bobcats had a strong showing in a summer league, including a victory over Mountain Home on the final day of competition. More importantly, according to Compton, Berryville was able to build its team chemistry.
“Our team learning to play with each other is what we wanted to accomplish in June,” he said.