By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
The Licking Wildcats are eager to make their claim at local Class 3 supremacy.
Licking returns four starters from a 22-7 squad that went 8-0 in the Frisco League. The Wildcats, for the second year in a row, fell to eventual Class 3 final four participant Mountain Grove in the district title game.
“We return a lot of experience from a successful season last year and finished our summer really strong,” said Wildcats coach Ben Glasgow. “We are looking to compete for a conference and district championship.
“We will look to be strong on the defensive end to give us some consistency on a nightly basis and should have enough weapons on offense to give us some good balance.”
Licking has posted four consecutive seasons of 20 or more wins. But the Wildcats have only reached the Class 3 postseason one time in that span – in 2014-15 when senior Lane Duncan helped end the program’s near 30-year district title drought.
Five seniors lead the way this season for Licking. G.T. Nicholson, a 6’7” forward, averaged nearly 18 points and 10 rebounds per game last season.
“He’s continued to improve his game and has so much versatility on offense,” Glasgow said. “He offers a huge matchup problem for most teams.”
Michael Milhizer finished second on Licking in scoring last season. He averaged about 13 points and three rebounds per game.
“He has an incredible ability to use his strength to get to the basket and score,” Glasgow said. “He’ll be looked upon to be big on the defensive end as well.”
Kaden Quick (9.2 ppg) is one of the team’s top shooters. James Swan, a 6’6” forward who averaged about seven points and three rebounds last season, gives Licking additional size alongside Nicholson.
“Kaden’s continued to improve all aspects of his game and is a big piece of our success,” Glasgow said. “James protects the basket and allows G.T. to extend beyond the perimeter.”
Glasgow praised the hustle and energy that Connor Medlock brings to the court.
“He’s never had to be told to play hard. It’s natural for him,” Glasgow said. “He’ll be one of our better defenders.”
Sophomore Wilson Murray and junior Garrett Duncan will also see significant varsity minutes.
“Wilson is an extremely smart player whose confidence has grown and grown,” Glasgow said. “He has proven to be a great passer and can score inside or out.
“Garrett is a versatile player and another outside scoring threat. He is a good ball handler and playmaker who is also a solid defender.”
Seniors Carter Rinne (5’9” guard) and Evan Mitchell (6’5” forward) round out the varsity squad.
“Carter will be a great addition to our backcourt,” Glasgow said. “He’s a good ball handler who does a great job of creating ball movement and he always gives 100 percent.
“Evan provides us more size off the bench. He can provide valuable minutes without us losing size from our lineup.”
The Wildcats graduated three seniors from last season’s team: guards Clabe Sullins and Dakota King, along with center Sean Loughridge. Sullins will particularly be missed for his contributions on both ends of the floor.
“He helped distribute the ball offensively and keep our offense running while leading the team in assists as well as averaging over 6 points per game,” Glasgow said. “On the defensive end, he was a force. He was able to guard almost any position.”
Licking starts the season Nov. 24-Dec. 1 at the Frisco League Tournament.
Glasgow will enter his ninth season as Licking’s head coach. He’s compiled a record of 174-78 at the school and is 313-180 overall for his career.