WILMINGTON -- The Wildcats varsity basketball teams will host Rivendell, in their respective openers, with games to be held Saturday beginning with the boys at 3:30 p.m., and the girls to immediately follow.
"We’re a very senior team this year," said Twin Valley boys coach Chris Brown. "There is some fresh talent, and a good group of underclassmen that should help push the team."
Floor general Colin Lozito returns as a senior to guide the Wildcats as point guard, while Nesbitt brothers Cade and Dal should also provide a strong offensive force.
The three have been starters on the team for the last four years, said Brown. "Also on offense, we’ve got DJ Lazelle, Eli Park, and Sam Molner," he said. "When it all comes together, I hope we play well."
Shouldn’t be too difficult for the boys considering they just came off a perfect soccer season, and championship win. Brown is fairly certain that comradery has carried over into the new sports season.
"Our players aren’t just teammates, they’re friends" said Brown. "The basics are all there, so it should make for a great team."
The team finished up last season with an 8-13 record.
The boys have a rough schedule to begin, noted Brown, whose team is expected to play a few divisional powerhouses at the upcoming Bob Abrahamson Tournament.
Until then, Brown said Saturday’s matchup should see a battle of seniors, given Rivendell’s experienced leadership.
"Hopefully we’ll seat ourselves well before the tournament," said Brown, whose team has been knocked out of the playoffs in their last few attempts at the state title.
Coach -- Chris Brown. Players -- Colin Lozito, Eli Park, Justin Hicks, Dal Nesbitt, Sam Molner, Jeremy Hunt, Dylan Johnson, Keegan Reed, Cade Nesbitt, TJ Felisko, DJ Lazelle, Skyler Boyd.
Familiar faces make their return to the girls team, along with a few new ones.
Savannah Nesbitt makes her return to the Wildcats as a senior, and three other senior players -- Hannah Swanson, Christiana Strysko, and Sam Cunningham-Darrah -- will lead the girls team this year.
Nesbitt was out the entire last season with an injured ACL, but coach Buddy Hayford said his star player is back in full form. "We are delighted to have her back in the fold, that’s for sure," he said. "Nesbitt runs the show."
Juniors returning include guard/forward Jessica Fox and Christina Moore, while Natalie Herrick, Skyler Pronovost, and Strysko join the team for the first time.
While Nesbitt was out last year, teammate Colton Butler did a great job filling in for her, according to Hayford.
"Butler learned a lot last season," said Hayford. "It did her good, and it’s going to pay dividends since she handled the ball all year long."
Junior guard Butler should start out in the shooting guard spot, noted her coach.
"Nesbitt will be relied on heavily to provide the offense, and she should get her bundle of assists," said Hayford. "But Butler will have to put points on the board for us as well."
Hayford is also hoping for a formidable defensive group, and he has a few ideas in mind. "Cunningham-Darrah and Fox will provide the D," said Hayford. "They will hopefully bring down some rebounds for us."
Also returning is sophomore Kirra Courchesne, and new this year is sophomore Teya Johnson, the two youngest players on the team. "I’m hoping for a breakout season for both Courchesne and Johnson," said Hayford.
Nesbitt, Swanson, Butler, Cunningham-Darrah, and Moore will start on Saturday.
Hayford said he is ready to go, but a few kinks still need to be worked out.
"My concern right now is offensively where we’ll be getting our points from," said Hayford. "Defensively, I think we’ll do fine."
The team has some tall players this year, including Courchesne, Swanson, Johnson, and Moore.
"We’ve got a little bit of height, and some guards that can shoot the ball," said Hayford. "I’d like to think we’ll have a good outside presence to be solid on both ends of the floor."
Herrick, a tough-nosed defender, is expected to play lock down defense when she gets in the game. "She should have some points off the bench too," said Hayford.
The team finished up with a 7-14 record last year.
"It was a struggle without Nesbitt at point," noted Hayford. "Should be different now. It’s a group that works really hard, and their chemistry is very strong."
Coach -- Buddy Hayford. Players -- Jessica Fox, Natalie Herrick, Kirra Courchesne, Christiana Strysko, Colton Butler, Hannah Swanson, Savannah Nesbitt, Teya Johnson, Sam Cunningham-Darrah, Skyler Pronovost, Christina Moore.