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Licking Wildcat Basketball preview

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The 2023-2024 Licking Varsity Wildcats, from left, front row: Karson Walker, Carter Sullins, Garrett Gorman, Roston Stockard and Kannon Buckner; second row: Asst. Coach Chris Harris, Austin Stephens, Nate Gambill, Logan Gorman, Lake Wade, Austin James, Kenny Ramsey and Head Coach Phillip Gambill; and back row: Benton Corley, Keyton Cook, Gage Nicholson, Jordan Ritz and Kale Cook.

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JV Wildcats, from left, front row: Karson Walker, Josh Wade and Kohen Blankenship; second row: Brently Morris, Benton Corley, Nate Gambill, Conway Adey and Robbie James; back row: Will Hackman, Kale Cook, Lake Wade and Kolton Sullins.

By Shari Harris, Publisher

 In his first year coaching at his alma mater, Licking Boys’ Basketball Head Coach Phillip Gambill has inherited a team heavy with experience. After a good off-season, and with emphasis by coaches on improvements in defense and rebounding, players are returning stronger and more capable.

With seven seniors, six juniors, and a lot of varsity experience among his team, Gambill’s varsity roster of sixteen provides him unlimited options. Gambill says his starters can change every night, giving opposing teams a headache in preparing for games and offering Gambill the chance to match up evenly with a variety of opponents.

Returning senior Keyton Cook was named Frisco League Conference MVP last season, and is sure to be a key member of this year’s team. Senior Austin James also received All-Conference honors last season. Gambill says James had a very good off season and returns stronger; he’ll be leaned on for scoring and overall leadership.

Other returning players sure to play vital roles and add depth are a mix of seniors, juniors and sophomores. Garrett Gorman, also a senior, gives 100 percent effort and offers good ball handling skills, good defense and is a good shot. Juniors Carter Sullins, with his ball handling and defensive skills, and Roston Stockard, with his shooting, defense and rebounding, will play big roles in the Wildcats’ success. Gage Nicholson, a 6’5” senior, has improved significantly and offers protection around the rim; his scoring and rebounding will be important. Senior Kenny Ramsey can fill roles and is a good rebounder. Two seniors, Austin Stephens and Logan Gorman, return after not playing last year; both are good on defense and add depth to the team. Juniors Kannon Buckner (defense, shooting and ball handling) and Jordan Ritz (6’4” and strong in the post) also look to have bigger roles this year. Kale Cook and Lake Wade also add strength and height under the basket. Sophomores Benton Corley, Nate Gambill and Karson Walker round out the depth of the team.

Licking is ranked first in the Frisco League Tournament, but Coach Gambill takes no game for granted, knowing Licking will always get everyone’s “A” game based on the Wildcats’ winning history. Gambill anticipates improvements in the Frisco League Conference in Dixon, Newburg and Iberia. Thayer may be in Licking’s district, and is anticipated to be a state ranked team.

Gambill was a basketball all-stater at Licking in 1989, and led the Wildcats to the Class 2A State Championship. He describes returning as a head coach as a “blessing and a privilege.”

“Being home, around people you grew up with, is indescribable. It’s comforting and overjoying,” Gambill said. “There’s nothing like being back in Licking.”

The Wildcats are ready to go, practicing six days a week. They have a preseason jamboree under their belts and are looking forward to the season opener on Tuesday, November 21, at home for the Big Cat Classic against Salem. Wildcat fans are ready as well, looking forward to a great season cheering on their team.


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