A year ago Summers County coach Chad Meador wasn’t sure what the product would look like following the graduation of all-stars Gavin Pivont and Taylor Isaac.
By tournament time it clicked the way he hoped.
The Lady Bobcats won their regional game on the road, returning to the state tournament where they eventually fell to St. Marys. The good news? Meador has a better idea of what he’s bringing into this season having graduated one starter.
“We have a more experienced team,” Meador said. “We welcome back two starting seniors who have played a lot of minutes in a lot of tough situations. We’ve got our starting center (Grace Harvey) returning and she’s a second-team all-state selection. She’s now battle tested and we have two freshmen coming back that are sophomores now in Avery Lilly and Abby Persinger. They worked their tails off this summer and they’re battle tested, hungry for more. It’s a progression where you never know what you’re going to be and somewhere along the line you keep fighting and find that identity. So far I like what I’m seeing.”
With forward Maggie Stover lost to graduation and the rest of the team a year older, Meador is hoping the team is stronger offensively this season. That side of the ball was a weakness last year with no true outside threat to keep teams from keying on the Bobcats’ post players.
“Last year we were primarily always a two-post player team,” Meador said. “This year we’ll have two true post players on the floor but we have a little bit of a different dynamic. We have one lineup where we have Abby and Avery and Grace and Liv (Meador) and Sullivan (Pivont) and that’s probably our quickest lineup with just one true post player. That will allow us to be a little different defensively and I think we’ll be able to guard 94 feet a little better with that lineup. I think we can be a little more aggressive and gamble more along the perimeter. Offensively, we’re better. I don’t think teams will be able to just pack it in and play zone and double team Grace and dare us to shoot. We’ve had players this summer who have worked on their game and their shot and I think you’ll see that.”
Liv Meador and Sullivan Pivont will be the primary ball handlers and will likely share the responsibility.
“I think it will depend on who’s turning the ball over less and I don’t say that jokingly,” Meador said. “Last year I think we would average about 20 turnovers a night. That’s something that has to improve and I think it will. Teams like Wyoming East would try to speed us up and make us make quick decisions and I think now that we’re a year older and wiser those turnovers will hopefully dwindle. But Liv will be the point guard and Sullivan will be the wing and Avery will be at that two guard.”
If the Bobcats hope to make it back to Charleston they’ll need to traverse the toughest region in Class AA with Wyoming East, Chapmanville and Mingo Central likely to be three of the top six teams in the state.. As such Meador has packed the schedule with all three of those aforementioned teams as well as squads like Class AAAA Hampshire and Frankfort, another state tournament team from a year ago.
It’s all a part of preparing his team for what he hopes is a run to the state tournament.
“You’ve got to play good teams and you’ve got to be battle tested,” Meador said. “You’ve got to play teams that will play you man, that will press you, teams that will force you out of your comfort zone so that when you see that in those crucial moments you’ve been there and done that and your heart doesn’t beat quite as fast. Your mind can think a little clearer. That’s really the key to preparing your team for that tournament run – trying to put them in every position and every situation that you can. I think our region has four of the top eight teams in double-A but only two go. Wyoming East is probably the favorite to win it all, Chapmanville lost one senior and picked up a transfer from George Washington. But you throw the ball up and what happens happens.”
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