By Stephen Smoot
Right after the football pads and jerseys get put away for the year, the sound of bouncing basketballs starts ringing through the Pendleton County High School gymnasiums. Though the boys’ team will look much different this year, they bring a strong core of experienced talent to this year’s competition.
Last year, Head Coach Jeremy Bodkin relied heavily on the leadership and experience of six seniors, including standouts Clayton Kisamore and Jacob Beachler. Bodkin says that this year “It’s going to be interesting.” He added that “I know that we’ll be in every game.”
One of the main differences this year, as Bodkin says, “We don’t have the height inside.” He expects that Cashton Kisamore, the younger brother of Clayton, “will give us height. It’s hard to teach height.”
Bodkin expects more out of his team this season in at least one respect. “We will definitely hold them to a higher standard on the defensive end,” he stated.
This year, the Wildcats will feature a younger look. In addition to Kisamore, two other sophomores will see significant playing time. This includes Henry Warner and also a mainstay in last year’s lineup, Chase Owens. Owens showed toughness battling inside and a penchant for hitting big outside shots last year.
Of Kisamore, Bodkin shared that “he’s not afraid to battle. He’s going to win a couple of wars.”
The team will have senior leadership and experience ready to take over from last year’s stars. Dusty Smith will bring his tenacious approach to both ends of the court. His brother, Dillon, who was the heart of much of the football team’s success, will be recovering from an injury, but will be counted on for leadership.
Bodkin also welcomed the contributions of Justus Kuykendall and Wyatt Franklin. He said that Kuykendall showed his toughness on the football field while Franklin “is an asset. He really helps us with his athletic ability.”
From the junior class comes Josiah Kimble. Along with Owens and others, he hit a number of clutch shots inside and out. “We’ll depend on Josiah to score for us when it’s right,” Bodkin stated.
Another junior that Bodkin expects a big season from is Zykijah Wright. “He fights for the basketball,” Bodkin explained, adding that he is definitely one of the guys that is going to help us.
Pendleton County has a challenging schedule early. They will play at Jefferson and also against a Maryland power in the first few weeks. Tucker County is also expected to field a powerful squad this season.
“The first three games will be really tough,” Bodkin warned, but added that it’s more important to be better than the competition in sectionals at the end of the year.