Coming off a 14-7 season, winning a share of the SBAAC National Division crown, and returning four starters has the expectations for the 2016-17 Blanchester Wildcats at a high level.
The ’Cats won’t have to wait long to see just how realistic those expectations are when they face off against Kentucky Country Day in the Ohio Valley Hoops Classic 1:45 p.m. Saturday at Southern State Community College’s Patriot Center.
The Bearcats will bring a talented backcourt to the Patriot Center, led by senior, Anthony “JR” Mathis. Mathis is one of the top point guards in the state of Kentucky, as the 6-0 playmaker has offers from Southeast Missouri State, Navy, IUPUI, and interest from several Ivy League schools.
Anthony’s cousin, Soloman Mathis, is a lightning quick junior guard who started last season and is being courted by numerous Division II programs.
Sharpshooter Hayden Kraus gives KCD a third returning backcourt starter from a team that finished 14-10 and won the 6th region All-A classic championship.
The Wildcats have some returning firepower of their own. All-league performer, and two-year starter, Dylan Miller returns for his senior season. He will be joined in the backcourt by fellow returning starters Quentin Miller (6-0 senior) and Jordan Stroud (6-3 junior). The Wildcats also welcome back 6-8 post player J.D. Wiederhold for his senior season.
Coach Adam Weber knows that facing KCD will give him a chance to answer some early questions about his team.
“We know playing Kentucky Country Day will provide us with a great early season test and it will let us know what we have to do to be a great team,” said the Wildcat mentor.
The game features an interesting side bar. KCD assistant coach Miles Burton is a 2011 graduate of Blanchester High School where he was a member of coach Mark Short’s 2010 squad which captured the Wildcats first league championship in more than 50 years.
Burton is excited about the contest.
“I am thrilled to come home and coach against Blanchester,” said Burton. “My dad (Rick) actually coached there for a few years. Adam has done a good job with the program and it will be great to see some familiar faces in the crowd.”
While he wouldn’t make a prediction on the game, Burton admitted “It would be fun to beat them.”
For Blanchester to spoil Burton’s homecoming and win the game, their guards will have to take care of the ball against the quickness and relentless pressure of the KCD backcourt in order to take advantage of the Wildcats size advantage on the inside.
Blanchester also will have to match the mental toughness of the Bearcats. KCD, though a small school, plays a loaded schedule which last year included Louisville powerhouses Ballard, PRP, Male and Eastern, along with Lexington Bryan Station and Newport Central Catholic.
And, lastly, the Wildcats will have to contain JR Mathis, who will be playing Division I college basketball next season. It will be a great opportunity for the Blanchester guards to show what they can do against high quality competition.