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Sunday, July 14, 2024

No Need to Slow Down

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After a historic ride a season ago, the 2021-2022 Waldron Bulldogs hope to reload instead of rebuild. Over the course of the last three seasons, the Bulldogs have enjoyed three trips to the regional tournament, two conference championship, and added a district crown last year.

Last year’s squad finished with a record of 27-7 and was a double overtime loss away from reaching the state’s final four. As the Bulldogs look to build on their recent resume, they will have to do it with new leadership.

Coach Josh Brown took over the rival Mansfield Tigers program in order to be closer to his family. Moving up and over from the girls side, is Coach Josh Atchley who has served as the Jr High coach for the last five years in addition to the Sr High girls coach for the previous three.

“Coach Brown has been such a huge part of not only this basketball program, but this school and community. His energy and effort that he put in daily is nearly untouchable, and he departed as the winningest basketball coach I believe in school history with 118 wins,” added Coach Josh Atchley.

“We have a good core of guys returning from last year’s team; however, due to having such a large senior group of guys last year, they will still need to gain some experience early in the season. We have a big group of over 20 guys and have a good mix of youth and experience, guards and posts, and shooters and inside finishers. Should be an exciting year for the Bulldogs!”

This year’s team features a large group of seniors, 7, who have been apart of the past two conference championships. Jayden McConnell and Camdon Holcomb each contributed last year to the squad and hopes to have yet an even bigger impact this year. “Holcomb offers us an inside presence and has worked really hard at finishing with contact this off-season. McConnell can shoot the cover off of the basketball and has improved on the defensive end as well.” Tyler Wright, Drew Owens, Matthew Tegtymeyer, and Jaylyn Mathews add to the defensive mindset of the Dogs and have served as a pleasant surprise to Coach Atchley as well. “All of these guys have already been in the gym working for us and have all bought in to what we are going to have to do this year to be successful. Tyler is a phenomenal athlete, Drew has a high IQ and is a streaky shooter, Tag’s motor never stops and can grab a board and immediately push the ball, and Jaylyn has developed a nose for the ball. Really excited about this group.” Moving over from football is Blake Owens who has not been a part of the basketball program until this season. “Blake suffered a knee injury during the first drive of the football season, but joined us this summer and was going to really help us out this year. I’m sure Blake will still find ways to contribute to the team somehow.”

The junior group for the Bulldogs is huge, showcasing nine guys who were a part of a district championship in Jr High. Already in the preseason gym is Lidge Stinson, Ethan Mayberry, Forrest Efurd, Jacob Daggs, Kason Moudy, and Petey Justice. “All of these guys will add to our team’s goals this year. Lidge is a skilled guard who does a great job of running the show for us. Mayberry and Petey are drive first guys who have also added some consistently to their jump shots this preseason. When left open, Forrest and Kason can be deadly from deep and Daggs has dealt with some illness this preseason but has focused and improved on the defensive side of the ball.” Several key contributors for the Bulldogs will join their team after the football Bulldogs conclude their season. Trenton Hunt, Trevor Hunt, and Peyton Lipham all have skill sets that have been beneficial to the success of Waldron’s basketball program. “These three football guys have all been banged up throughout football season but Lipham should be be able to bring his all out playing style and contribute right away. Trenton is still healing up from a broken leg suffered in the first football game this year and has not been cleared yet. Trevor recently underwent knee surgery on his ACL that he tore in the football scrimmage in August and will likely miss the entire season. We are excited to get these dudes in the gym and will work to get them up to speed as quick as possible.”

Four sophomores complete the roster for the Dogs and join the Sr High program after an up and down season last year due to COVID. Waldron had to cancel several games and ended up finishing the year with seven guys out of 24 from quarantines. Steven Newman, Chris Lopez, Kason Davis, and Lucas Nix all had a great summer and look to add value to this year’s team. “It was an odd year for everyone but I felt like our Jr guys had personnel issues everyday. Sometimes we had guys get quarantined mere hours before tip off but they made the most of it and I was proud of how they never made excuses. Lopez is an ultra-quick with the basketball in his hands, Steven and Nix are tough post presence who has improved a ton this off-season, and Davis is a long and athletic post player and they don’t grow those types of guys on trees. We will look to utilize that length especially in the transition game.”

If you thought the Bulldogs would slowly transition on to the basketball court from the football gridiron, you thought wrong. Waldron starts with a bang as they host defending 2A state runner-ups Caddo Hills Indians, and Fountain Lake Cobras, before traveling to Mansfield in the opening week of the season. “If you are interested in checking these guys out who have been working, come check out the Jr and Sr basketball teams as we kick off the year with our annual Orange/Black scrimmage at the WAC. Admission is donations at the door that really help our guys throughout the year. Hope to see lots of people out flying the W!”   

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