BY BRIAN DAVIS
Last season, the Franklin-Simpson Wildcats enjoyed a successful basketball season. They finished 16-13, were the 13th District Tournament runner-up and made it to the 4th Region Tournament.
While their season was better than the year before, head coach Dee Spencer was happy about the season overall but added things could have been better. They lost seven games by less than 10 points which includes the 13th District Tournament championship game to the Logan County Cougars.
"Last season was a pretty good season," Spencer said. "We improved on our wins from the previous season, but we should have won 20 or more games. Looking back at the games, the free throw line and layups cost us some wins. That's been our focus during the offseason. Making free throws and finishing around the basket."
With the exception of Dayveon Harris; who moved to Louisville, the entire team is back. The Wildcats returns a very experienced team, one that should give them an advantage against any team they face this season.
Senior Demarco Chatman led the team last year in scoring at 15.9 points per game with junior Andreyous Miller adding 11.6 points per game. Miller led the team by shooting 47.6 percent from the floor with senior Tedric Partinger shooting 46.4 percent and Chatman at 45.4 percent. Senior Dawson Knight led the team in 3-point shooting by making 40 of his 111 attempts at 46 percent. Junior Kyjuan Stutzman made 14 of his 45 attempts for 31.1 percent and Chatman made 32 of his 110 attempts to shoot 29.1 percent. Stutzman led the team in free throw shooting at 72.4 percent while Miller shot 68.8 percent and Chatman, who led the team with 89 made free throws, shot 64.5 percent.
"Keep an eye on Kyjuan (Stutzman). I feel like he is going to be the surprise of the region," Spencer said. "He's gotten stronger, has been practicing really well. We are pleased with what he is doing on the court and we feel like he can give us some more scoring but that also means that other players like Demarco (Chatman), Dawson (Knight) and Andreyous (Miller) will have to step up and lead this team during the season. Isaac (marshall) and Tedric (Partinger), I expect big things from them. Andrew (Ogles) is coming out to play and my sophomores: Ben (Banton), Jalen (Briscoe) and Luke (Richardson), we're going to find time for those guys and get them to play.
Chatman led the team with 193 rebounds, 6.7 per game. Harris grabbed 165 rebounds last season as Spencer looks to senior Logan Lacouture, who is six feet six inches tall, to be "the man in the middle" to rebound, defend and score.
"Dayveon Harris moved to Louisville and we're happy for him, but we have to deal with what we got. We had to make some adjustments on the defensive end. We got to protect Logan (Lacouture) to get him caught up to the speed of the game. The other guys are very experienced. They know what they have to do. We're very happy to have everybody back."
The Wildcats plays almost every team in the 4th Region. They play all five teams from the 14th District (Bowling Green, Greenwood, South Warren, Warren Central and Warren east), the 15th District (Allen County-Scottsville, Barren County, Glasgow and Monroe County) and ClintonCounty from the 16th District.
Plus they go on the road to play 3rd Region teams: the Butler County Bears from the 12th District, and the Muhlenberg County Mustangs, from the 10th District. They also compete on Bowling Green's holiday tournament, the Purples Holiday Classic, Dec. 26th -28th.
""We feel like we have a pretty good team so we scheduled some tougher opponents," Spencer said. "Our schedule is always tough every year. We're just going to take it a game at a time, enjoy the moments and learn and get better from every game."
The Logan County Cougars are the 13th District Tournament champions but Franklin-Simpson heads into the season as the favorites to win the district. Spencer has high expectations for the team this season.
"District wise,in my opinion, I feel like it is ours to win. We have the most coming back. No slight against the other three teams. I 'm sure they feel the same way but I am confident in my guys. We've practiced our butts off and when it's time to get on the court, we have to show it," Spencer said. "Our first goal is always to win the district. Winning the district gets us to the region and we just don't want to get to the region. We want to make some noise, make a good tun at it."
Spencer's teams has won once in seven games in the 4th Region Tournament. He feels like it's time for his team to make a run in the tournament and play in the championship game, something the Wildcats has not done since the 2008 - 2009 season.
"Everybody is going to look over us. Bowling Green and Warren Central are the favorites and that is probably right but I love my guys. In an one-game situation, I feel like they can play with anyone. Let's just do something that we haven't done. The most we've played is two games in my eight years here, so we are looking forward to play three games at Diddle and see what happens."
Joining Spencer on the bench this season are his assistant coaches Tony Lovan and Jermaine Robey and team managers Aniya Dunn and Zay Starks.