Whiteoak basketball was at its peak from 2001 to 2003 as the Wildcats played in three straight regional finals. The team reached its zenith when Coach Pat Hines’ 2002 squad, led by Justin Michael, advanced to the Division IV state tournament Final Four in Columbus.
Things have been somewhat lean in recent years, but Coach Jeremy McGraw hopes to bring the Wildcats back to prominence in the Southern Hills League. After a five-win season a year ago, McGraw said the Cats have been working hard this summer.
“We had a great summer with guys coming in the gym and working to get better,” said McGraw. “We are excited about the season, and believe we can be competitive in the Southern Hills Athletic Conference.”
Second year head coach Roberto Allen is trying to build some tradition from the ground up at Gamble Montessori, and it appears he is on the way to accomplishing that. Inheriting a team that had won only two games the previous year, Allen led Gamble to a 14-9 record last season, which represented the most wins in school history. And, the Gators have some firepower returning to help build on that momentum.
Elijah Allen, the Coach’s son, was the main man for Gamble last season as he led the team in scoring (18.1), assists (5.8) and steals (3.5), and he returns to lead the charge again this year. Also, back is leading rebounder James Andrews (7.0) and fellow starters Antonio Wilcox and James Crowder.
Whiteoak lost leading scorer and all-league performer Brandon Ashbaugh. However, the Wildcats return second leading scorer Chase Carraher along with athletic junior Trevor Yeager, and a host of promising younger players. Coach McGraw was excited to play in the Ohio Valley Hoops Classic and against Gamble Montessori.
“Playing in the Ohio Valley Hoops Classic is a great opportunity for our kids,” said McGraw. “It should be three days of great basketball, and we are thrilled to be part of it. And, playing a team like Gamble Montessori will let us know what we need to work on real quickly.”
Coach Allen was equally excited about playing in the Ohio Valley Hoops Classic.
“We are trying to build our program, and playing in an event like this will allow our kids to get some exposure,” said the Gators head man.
This game will likely come down to three things; can Whiteoak handle the defensive pressure of Gamble Montessori, can the Wildcats keep Elijah Allen from going off, and can they find some scoring of their own. If they can do those three things reasonably well, the ‘Cats have a great chance to pull the upset and possibly start building back toward those glory years of the early 2000’s.