For the first time in Chad Meador’s four-year tenure he’ll be coming into the season without a true defined offensive star.
Following the graduations of all-staters Gavin Pivont and Taylor Isaac, the Summers County head coach is heading back to the drawing board with a younger group of players.
The good news is he does have several other players with experience, bringing back just one senior.
“Maggie Stover is a senior and she’s a three-year starter for us,” Meador said. “She’s played a lot of post for us so she’s returning along with Sullivan Pivont, who will primarily see time at guard and even some point guard. We return our sixth man Liv Meador, another guard and we also have some other girls that played some varsity last year and that would be Grace Harvey, a 6-foot sophomore and Jessie Ward, who played a little bit for us. She’s a 5-foot-11 post player that’s a junior. We’ll have Ashley Cooper back and she’ll come off the bench for us. We have several freshmen that will get some varsiy minutes and that would be Avery Lilly and Abby Persinger mainly. They’re going to have promising careers and there will be some other freshmen that step in and help us down the stretch after they get some JV experience.”
What sticks out to Meador early is the size of the team he’ll be coaching this year. In years past he’s relied on smaller guards but with three tall post players he’s embracing the change.
“Last year we were kind of a guard oriented team but this year we’ll have a lot of post players,” Meador said. “To compliment Maggie we’ve got Grace, Jessie and a transfer from Woodrow named Kayley Jones and she’s 6-foot-1. We’re big for once and it’s been awhile since we’ve had some size. It’s nice to be able to take up some space and put some pressure on some of the post players in our area.”
The size on the roster is also leading Meador to adjust his philosophy based on his personnel. Pivont and Isaac were good for 20 points a night each, bringing the ability to create their own offense.
“In years past we’ve tried to outscore everybody,” Meador said. “This year we’re going to have to generate offense from defense. I think the leading scorers of the kids we have back is six points a night. We don’t have a lot of offense coming back so the ones that return didn’t have primary roles scoring the ball. We’re going to have to get down and dirty and roll up our shirt sleeves and generate offense from our defense. That’s kind of been the focus over the last week. We’ve got to do that because we lost a lot of offense.”
Something Meador is hoping fuels the drive to get better is how last season ended.
One of the most historic programs in West Virginia, Summers County finished below .500 for the first time in program history last season, losing in the regional championship at Mingo Central. The finish also snapped Summers’ six-year state tournament streak as well.
“Our goal from the beginning last year was to get to the state tournament and we didn’t achieve our goal,” Meador said. “Actually, our goal was to get there and try to win a game, so I thought that goal was achievable and somewhere along the way we failed to reach that goal and I’ll take responsibility for that. But yeah, we’ve got a little bruised pride. It just motivates us even more this year. We’re just going to take it one day at a time but we’re still trying to get there. It doesn’t change.”
Part of the reason that goal hasn’t changed, aside from the standard in the program, is how Stover, Meador and Pivont have responded in the early going. They were a part of a volleyball team that was favored to win the region and make it to the state tournament this past season but failed to do so. In the process they learned more about leadership.
“I saw them during volleyball actually take leadership roles,” Meador said. “I know their volleyball season didn’t end the way they wanted it but that is so crucial – getting a team to play great together, especially to play great together defensively. There has to be leadership and those three have not only led their team so far, but they’ve held each other accountable and we preach that all the time. You’ve got to hold each other accountable and you’ve got to lead your team. We’ll go as far as their leadership and some of the younger ones we have – they listen. That’s just refreshing.”
The Lady Bobcats will open their season on Dec. 1 when they travel to Nicholas County.