- Jeff Gilbert Contributing Writer
When Beavercreek boys basketball coach Mark Hess was preparing to play Springfield this past Friday, he was happy about two things.
“I told (Springfield coach) Isaiah [Carson] before the game it was nice to type the scouting report and not put Danny Davis and Michael McKay on it,” Hess said. “I almost deleted them twice because it felt really good.”
That raises a big question for the Wildcats. How will they do without four-year starter Davis and two-year starter McKay in the backcourt? They averaged 18 and 14 points last year and led the Wildcats to a 23-4 season, a GWOC National East title and to the regional final.
“It’s hard to replace those guys, but we’ve got guys that have been in this program,” Carson said. “Our system is our system.”
Hess wasn’t so happy after the Wildcats (2-0, 1-0 GWOC) showed their system that emphasizes defense still works in Friday night’s 55-47 home victory over his team. The Wildcats did it with a combined 19 points from young backup guards David Sanford and Larry Stephens. They played starter minutes because starting guards Michael Wallace and Jay Rodgers were out with injuries.
Wallace, one of two returning starters who averaged 7.6 points and shot almost 50 percent from the field last year, had knee surgery recently and will return to the lineup in late December. Rodgers was a key backup last year. He didn’t play again Tuesday night at Miamisburg because of a bone bruise in one of his feet. Carson is hopeful Rodgers will return Friday for a home game against Centerville.
“Defensively we go to a whole ‘nother level and offensively too when we get those two guards back,” Carson said.
So while Hess, who is in his fourth year at Beavercreek, was glad to see Davis and McKay move on, he’s not sure the Wildcats will miss them.
“From years past I think they’re a little deeper, a little bit longer, a little more athletic,” Hess said. “And they’re tough. They’re younger kids, but they’re really scrappy and they’re tough.
“You see two guys like Danny and Mike McKay graduate and you think Springfield’s going to be down, but they’re just as good.”
The top returning scorer is Leonard Taylor, a 6-foot-7 senior who averaged 13 points and nine rebounds last year. He has been a leader in football as the quarterback and a defensive star.
“I love being a senior and I love having that load just like football,” he said. “I just have to step up and make sure my team’s there for me and got my back at all times and I got their back always. I love them.”
The other experienced player is 6-4 junior forward Raheim Moss. He has scored 12 and 10 points in the first two games.
“He’s very, very special,” Taylor said. “I think he can maybe be the leading scorer on the team if he wanted to. He’s just got to grow up a little bit, got to act like an older junior and he’ll be fine.”
Hess has seen enough to say the Wildcats will be a league contender. And Taylor, the senior who has seen a lot of big victories the past three years, is confident.
“We all can score, we’re all athletic, we all can run — good chemistry,” he said. “I think we can be good, think we can be a great team for sure.”