The trio of seniors – Cole Day, Braden McClanahan and Tanner Townsend – have led the team to a 16-3 mark this season and are ranked sixth in the latest Class A coaches’ poll.
By Shawn Stinson
FRANKLIN – The trio of Cole Day, Braden McClanahan and Tanner Townsend may not have played a big part in Pendleton’s success as sophomores, but they watched the foundation being built.
As juniors, they had vital roles as Pendleton advanced to the Class A state championship matchup.
In their final season, the trio has the Wildcats back in the conversation as state championship contenders.
Since their freshman year, Pendleton has posted a 71-12 record. The team reeled off 40 consecutive victories during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons before falling to Man in the state title contest. The Wildcats are ranked sixth in the latest state coaches’ poll.
Day said seeing the success on the hardwood has put Pendleton on the map and sent a message to its opponents.
“It sends out a statement for where we are, I think we have been overlooked,” Day said. “The past four years we stood out as a county in this state. It just shows who we are and who we could be and what we are able to do.”
McClanahan agrees with his teammate and believes others in the state have underestimated what the Wildcats are able to accomplish on the court.
“I’m glad we are on the map now, everybody should have known who we were before, but everybody knows who we are now,” he said.
Townsend mentioned the disappointment his sophomore year of finishing the season with a 23-0 record and advancing to the Elite Eight, but not being able to complete for a championship due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We made it to state but we didn’t get to play,” Townsend said. “We worked hard all season. Last year we made it all the way to the championship and did what we could. We just have to work hard [to get back this season].”
The trio discussed following in the footsteps of former players like Marcus Sites, Bailey Thompson and Josh Alt.
Townsend said those players “didn’t get like that by themselves.” He said there was healthy competition in practice to push each other to be better players.
“We were always there working them in practice and they worked us,” he said. “They shaped us to be how we are.”
Day added the former Pendleton players were not only their teammates but role models as well.
“We definitely looked up to them,” Day said. “We wanted to be like them, what they did and how they played together. They were good role models for us, we want to be like them. We are going to strive to do the things they did.”
McClanahan said it is time for the trio to step up and lead Pendleton back to Charleston.
“We put our time in and we paid our dues, now it’s our turn,” he said.
Pendleton was scheduled to square off with Pocahontas County Tuesday in the first round of the Class A Section II, Region 2 playoffs.