With nearly every player returning from last year’s squad, there is plenty to be excited about heading into the 2013-14 season.
“We have a lot of experience coming back,” head coach Mike Tobin said. “Obviously I would like to win it all, but to be good, you have to get some breaks too. Every year I like to think we have a chance to win the state championship and we definitely have kids who are working their tails off in trying to reach that goal.”
Cartersville returns all-region and all-county players, Ryan Davis and Corey Tobin.
Davis is a 6-foot-4 point guard who averaged 17.4 points per game, 5.6 assists per game and 7.6 rebounds per game.
Tobin is an inch taller than Davis and plays on the wing for the Canes. He averaged 14.2 points per game, 4.7 assists per game and connected on 83 3-pointers last year.
“Ryan does a real good job of penetrating and taking it to the basket. He does a great job of dishing it when the defense collapses,” Mike Tobin said. “They all are good kids that work their tails off.”
A.J. Mosby is another senior all-county guard who gives the Canes a deadly trio on the perimeter.
“A.J. is real smooth. He’s really solid and is a real good shooter,” Tobin said. “ A.J., Cory and Ryan, those three were all-county last year and they were also all-tournament last year in the Christmas tournament. We expect huge years out of those guys.”
Cartersville also gets a boost in the paint with 6-foot-4 Excel transfer Jalen McKeller.
“He really does a good job physically, he’s helping us a lot on defense and he’s a huge addition for us,” Tobin said. “He’s a big, strong left-handed kid. He does a good job finishing and he’s more like a true center.”
The Canes are not top-heavy with talent this season. They should have plenty of depth with several talented role players to compliment their scorers, including seniors Hakeem Winters and Devin Henderson, and juniors Bryce Gober and Zack Hacker.
“[Gober] is a kid I expect to have a good year and then another kid I have that does a great job, he hustles all over the place, is Zack Hacker. He has a perfect name for a basketball player and is one of those kids who dives on lose balls, he finishes strong,” Tobin said. “We also have another kid who is coming along, [Henderson], he’s an outstanding defensive player and is a real competitor.”
Winters was the starting forward alongside T.L. Ford. Ford, who is committed to play football at Kansas State, may not play basketball this upcoming season.
Winters will be back, however, and Tobin is excited how his game has come along in the offseason.
“He made great improvements in the summer and this past fall,” Tobin said. “He is an excellent rebounder and leaper and has improved his shooting tremendously over the past six months.”
With all the returning talent, the Canes should have an excellent chance of repeating as region champs, but Tobin sees potential competition.
“Our region is supposed to be competitive, but I think Ringgold should be one of the top teams. Ringgold gave us some tough battles last year and they pretty much have everybody back,” Tobin said. “We won it last year but we played Ringgold twice during the regular season, and we played them during the region semis. Each time they played us, it was a tough game.
“On paper, anybody can beat anybody, but based on last year, I would think that us and Ringgold would be some of the top teams.”
Even before the Canes reach region play, they will have prepared with one of the most challenging out-of-region schedules the program has had in years.
“We really beefed up our schedule from last year,” Tobin said. “We have Hillgrove, who was in the state championship game of AAAAAA. We have Milton, who won the AAAAAA State Championship [in 2012]. We play them. That’s going to be real fun. Supposedly, 12 of the better teams in the state play over at the Greater Atlanta Christian Showcase on Dec. 14, so that will be a fun day of basketball.
“That will definitely make us better as far as playing top-notch competition.”
Cartersville’s first game will come on the road against Rome on Nov. 30.