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Harding Academy WildcatsPublished October 27, 2013 at 4:00 a.m.
Harding Academy Wildcats
Coach: Brad Francis
2012-2013 record: 28-6 overall; 8-0 conference; district, regional and state champions.
Returning starters: “I had five seniors who started last year,” Francis said, but some returning players are: Hayden Mathews, 6-2 junior post; Kohl Blickenstaff, 6-0 senior guard; Mitchell Kirby, 6-0 senior forward; Jon Poole, 5-11 senior guard; Carter Burks, 6-0 senior forward; Trey Davis, 6-0 senior forward. “I have a lot of guys who are going to battle for [starting] positions this year,” Francis said. Some of his other players are busy playing football at the moment and have to wait to practice basketball, he said. Alex Francis, 5-11 sophomore guard, also has potential to start this year, Francis said.
Best outside players: “Poole is a really strong shooter and Blickenstaff and Francis are both top ball handlers on the perimeter,” Francis said.
Best inside players: “Mathews and Kirby, they finish strong around the rim,” Francis said.
How will you match/exceed/fall short of your success from last year?: “On this team, each player has his own talents, and we are going to play on what this group does well versus last year,” Francis said.
Team Strengths: “Our depth. I’ve got several guys who are [fast],” Francis said.
Team Weaknesses: “Experience will be our biggest factor. Our team isn’t really big. We’re not as big as we were last year,” Francis said.
Games to watch: Riverview. “That’s always going to be a battle,” he said. “Rose Bud is also going to be a lot better this year.”
Toughest opponent: “I look to Riverview and Rose Bud,” Francis said. Francis also said the Beebe tournament around Christmas brings out a lot of tough competition.
In a nutshell: “We have a lot of guys who have the potential to score. I think they’re going to be competitive in our league and our expectation is to do well again this year,” Francis said.