Both the Enterprise Wildcats and Lady Cats saw their 2020 basketball seasons come to a close last week in the Class 7A, Area 3 Tournament with losses to Jeff Davis from Montgomery’s R.E. Lee High School.
The Wildcats (14-14) and Volunteers battled it out in the opening round of the boys tournament on Feb. 4 with Enterprise falling 53-45 in a frustrating finish.
“It didn’t go well,” Enterprise coach Rhett Harrelson flatly said. “We got down early to start the game and didn’t match their toughness, but I liked the way we responded and fought back into the game.”
After Enterprise fell behind 9-0 in the early minutes of the first quarter, the Wildcats were able to battle back and cut the Jeff Davis lead to 15-10 heading into the second quarter.
By halftime, Jeff Davis held on to a 27-18 lead but expanded that lead to as much as 14 points in the early minutes of the third quarter.
The Wildcats clawed their way back into the game, however, and cut the lead to 38-33 going into the final period.
The two sides slugged it out in the fourth quarter with Enterprise cutting the lead to just one point on multiple occasions. Jeff Davis was able to pull away in the final minutes, however, and took the 53-45 win ending a disappointing season for the Wildcats.
Enterprise was led by sophomore Quentin Hayes with 13 points, four rebounds and two steals, while senior Dallas Howell ended his EHS career with 12 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks.
Junior Josh McCray added eight points, seven rebounds and three steals.
The 2019-2020 season, as a whole, was frustrating for the Wildcats as a number of issues hampered them. One of the bigger issues was injuries.
“It was a weird, frustrating year,” Harrelson said. “We had four seniors on our roster and three of them had ACL tears.”
Seniors Howell, Matthew Newell and KJ Couch all suffered ACL tears in the offseason, which caused Howell to miss the first half of the season and Newell to miss the entire season. Couch was able to return for three games before another knee injury sidelined him for the remainder of the year.
“It was weird in terms of not really knowing what we would have coming into the season,” Harrelson said. “It was also frustrating in terms of our coaching staff starting the year with six coaches and ending it with three. That’s frustrating.
“I have to do a better job of hiring folks and getting guys that want to be here.”
Enterprise struggled mightily on the offensive side of the ball all season long, shooting 26 percent from three-point range and just 52 percent from the free throw line, and turned the ball over an average of 18 times per game.
Still, the Wildcats showed promise at times, making it to the finals of the Dothan Hoops Classic, going toe-to-toe with undefeated R.E. Lee, and picking up dominant wins over teams like Jeff Davis and Prattville during the regular season.
“I thought at times during the year, specifically at home against Prattville and Jeff Davis, we showed that we could play and compete at a high level, but it just wasn’t there all the time,” Harrelson said. “Our effort night to night wasn’t great and we just didn’t play very well all year.
“WE didn’t shot the ball well enough. I thought we battled and competed at times but we just have to be more consistent with that moving forward and take time in this offseason in getting better.”
Despite playing in just 13 games, Howell led Enterprise scoring 15 points per game, while grabbing an average of 7.2 rebounds per game, dishing 1.4 assists and snatching 1.2 steals per game. Despite the injuries Howell also signed a scholarship offer with the College of Southern Idaho, as well.
McCray also a big year with 11 points, five rebounds, two assists and 1.7 steals per game. Hayes averaged 11.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.4 steals per game.
McCray will be a part of seven returning seniors next season along with Hayes – who will be a junior in 2020-2021 – and a number of other underclassmen that received quality varsity minutes this season.
“That’s a positive,” Harrelson said of his returners. “A lot of those guys got quality varsity minutes – including two freshmen – and it was good for all of those guys to get that experience.
“We have a lot of guys coming back that have a lot of experience and have played at the varsity level. Now this offseason is where it has to come from.”
The 2020 offseason is one that will be important for the EHS basketball program, according to Harrelson.
“We have to get into the gym (in the offseason) and work on our game, work on our shot, work our ball-handling and everything else,” he said. ‘This offseason is crucial for us in order to improve. In the summer, when we start playing again, to get better as a team we all have to keep improving individually, too.
“We have a lot of work to do. I like having a lot of guys coming back but we have to get better; plain and simple. I think we will and it’s just a matter of coming in and working hard and being good teammates.”
The Lady Cats (9-20) also had a tough end to the season as they fell to the Lady Vols 33-23 in a low-scoring opening round of the Class 7A, Area 3 Girls Tournament.
The Lady Cats scored just a total of four points in the first and fourth quarters, which hurt Enterprise’s chances of moving on immensely.
“We played hard, we played extremely had, and they executed our game plan for the most part,” Lady Cat coach George Scott said. “We had a two-point first quarter and a two-point fourth quarter. We were winning going into the fourth quarter and that was kind of the nail in the coffin for us.
“We played great defense – we’ve played great defense all year – but you have to be able to put the ball in the basket to win.”
Sophomore Dashia Nelson led Enterprise with 13 points in the loss.
Nelson and senior Lay Lay McClain have been two of the top scorers for the Lady Cats this season, and Nelson along with much of the rest of the team will return next season, which Scott is excited for.
“I really didn’t know where our scoring was going to come from this year but Lay Lay stepped up and that was amazing for us,” Scott said. “We got some valuable experience for the younger girls and played some really good teams that I think will help springboard us towards next year.”