Waldron Basketball came to an end for the season on Wednesday, Feb. 27, as the Waldron senior boys fell short to Booneville, 84-72, in the first round of the 3A State Basketball Tournament at Osceola High School.
While the Bulldogs fell short at state, they still had a record setting year with an overall record of 23-10 and 10-4 in conference play. The Waldron senior boys finished the season Regional Tournament Runner-Up, and reached the State Tournament for the third time in school history and the first time since 2012. The Bulldogs also set the record for the most wins in a season in school history with twenty-three.
“We have a lot to look forward to and a lot to build on,” said Bulldogs Coach Joshua Brown. “This was a fun year and these guys were a lot of fun to be around. They work hard and they play hard.”
Coach Brown will see only one senior Bulldog graduate this season in Drew Dozier. Brown commented on Dozier saying, “He was a great teammate and was very coachable. He wanted to do whatever it took for us to win! He was very instrumental in the success we had this year.”
Payton Brown, a junior this season for Waldron, averaged 32 points per game, 2.5 assists per game, 6 rebounds per game, and 2.8 steals per game for the Bulldogs and surpassed the 1,500 career point mark. Coach Brown noted on his returning players saying, “Jacob Avila is one of our best defenders and averaged right under 6 points per game. Mason Ford adds some versatility to our ball team on both ends of the floor. Gada Wagner showed us that he can hit some big shots and knock down the three, as well as defend on the other end of the floor. Ruben Valdez came back this year after breaking his collar-bone his sophomore season, and was good about creating shots around the rim and finishing through traffic. Isaac Villarreal was a spark off the bench and hit some big time three’s when we needed them throughout the year, and Caden Fuller was a tough nosed defender who also gave us a spark off the bench when he got opportunities.”
Going into next season, Coach Brown said, “I believe that next year the sky is the limit for this team. As we continue to improve on the defensive end and come closer together, we can make this the best year our school and community has been a part of.”
Brown continued, “We got a taste of success and hopefully it will keep these guys hungry wanting more. Our community support, this season, was the best we have had and we hope we can continue to build on the success that we had this season.”
~ Senior Girls ~
The Waldron Lady Bulldogs wrapped up their season with a record of 5-21, while going 2-12 in conference play.
Lady Bulldogs Coach, Joshua Atchley, will lose eight seniors to graduation this year including: Mackenzie Callahan, Sam Slater, Aubrey Butler, Chenoa Burdess, Lily Scott, Jackie Diaz, Jillian Davis, and Makenzie Polen.
“This season was a growing year for the Waldron senior Lady Bulldogs,” said Coach Atchley. “The team was senior heavy, but with a coaching change, had to ‘start over’ in some areas. When I took over the Sr. Girls, we really tried to teach the game to them and they all responded very well.”
On his seniors Atchley noted, “These seniors were always fun to be around, sometimes had to be redirected, but always enjoyed the game and competing. I was proud of the way they finished their basketball careers, not so much the wins and losses, but how they learned to handle adversity and get better every day.”
The lone junior on the team was Chelsea Stidman, who Coach Atchley describes as, “an incredible athlete that is just scratching the surface on her basketball abilities.” Atchley also mentioned that sophomores Jessica Ozuna and Star Spence, “came a long way since the beginning of the season.”
Atchley also added, “I would like to send a ‘Thank You’ to every one of these girls for working so hard all year long. Their parents and supporters who had to endure some heartbreaking defeats, such as a one-point, last-second loss to Horatio and some thrilling triumphs, like Chenoa Burdess’ game-winning shot at the buzzer against Cedarville. I am so thankful for Roger Sparks, Ray Jett, Kerry Barnett, and Konnor McKay for the work they do at the score table for us every night.”
~ Junior Boys ~
The Waldron Jr. Boys finished their season with an overall record of 12-14, as the Jr. Bulldogs won 6 of their last 7 games after a slow start to the year.
“Lidge Stinson, Trenton Hunt, and Trevor Hunt stepped up as 8th graders at the guard sports and really helped to control the ball games for us,” said Joshua Atchley, Coach of the Jr. Bulldogs. “They had no experience coming into the season, but continued to grow and understand the game of basketball as the year went on. “
Atchley noted that, “Payton Lipham and Payton ‘Petey’ Justice really stepped up and added value to our team. They were solid 7th graders for us last year but worked their tails off since then and helped us out a ton this year in Jr. High. The sky is the limit for those dudes because of how hard they work.”
Atchley added, “Camdon Holcomb, Drew Owens, Owen Ridenhour, and Lane Tallmadge have come a long way since their 7th-grade year. They made a commitment to better their games and it really showed off this year. I am very grateful for this group including Nathan Settle, Lane Metcalf, Matthew Tegtmeyer, and Gus Billings who stuck it out and listened to me coach them for the past three seasons.”
~ Junior Girls ~
“This season was a tad rocky, but overall the girls grew and improved as basketball players,” said Hannah Scantling, Head Coach of the Jr. Lady Bulldogs. “Our goal for this season was to ‘be better than you were yesterday’, and I felt we accomplished that,” Scantling added. “By the end of the season, we started playing more aggressive and the girls really started to understand what I was asking of them. I was incredibly proud of how hard this team worked and never gave up. They came into practice eager to learn.”
Looking ahead to next season, Coach Scantling said, “I’m super excited for next years team. We have some 8th graders returning as 9th graders that have a chance to step up and do some great things, and we have some incoming 8th graders that will have an opportunity to really help us. We are already getting to work in the off-season and we are working on a summer schedule.”