Bright outlook for A-J, Cobden basketball teams
The cupboard is not going to be bare for the Anna-Jonesboro and Cobden high school boys’ basketball teams next year.
A-J and Cobden each return the nucleus of their teams next season.
The Wildcats finished the season with an 11-19 record after a loss in the Class 2A regional tournament at Trico.
The Appleknockers finished 11-17 after finishing the season with a loss to a solid Meridian team 73-64 in their Class 1A regional.
A-J returns all its starters from that squad. Izzy Markovic, was the only senior starter who would not have returned. However, he was injured during the regular season and lost for the year.
The team’s leading scorer and rebounder will return in junior Jake Parr. He had his best game of the season on Senior Night with both a season-high 32 points and 18 rebounds. The only damper to the game was a loss to Du Quoin, 70-66.
Opposing teams have to often build their entire defensive scheme around him if they wanted to stop the Wildcats.
Junior Sheldon McGrath proved another offensive threat as well and brought out team’s best defensive units to stop him as well.
Starting juniors Jacob Zimmerman and Logan Sawyer and freshman Blake Pena proved bonafide 3-point threats during the season and should show improvement. Pena dazzled the crowd this year by hitting a half-court basket well above 3-point range. They will each join Parr and McGrath, who both can hit the 3-pointer as well.
Others contributing this year and expected to do the same next year are junior Ross Pinnon, sophomores Carson Reynolds and freshman Noah McFarland.
Cobden loses only one full time starter Austin Lewey and part-time starter Dylan Duty to graduation.
The Appleknockers will also be bolstered by several members from a junior varsity squad, which finished 14-2 overall.
Junior John Russell, the team’s leading scorer, returns next season as well as the team’s leading rebounder junior Clayton Eck. Freshmen Joe Brumleve and Dylan Lewey could also add depth to the inside.
Three-point shooting threats next season include Russell, freshman Karl Evans, sophomore Zane Nance and junior Conner Allen.
Cobden had an impressive run this season in the conference race finishing in a three-way tie with Meridian and Elverado for the South Egyptian Conference title.
A-J and Cobden fans could both have something to cheer about next season when the basketball season begins.