Basketball team gears up for season opener

Liz O’Connell Staff Writer

WADESBORO — Sports continue on as the Bearcats basketball team is ready for the season opener on Jan. 6.

Both the varsity men and women teams will play Union Pines at home for the first game of the season, as the two JV teams travel to Union Pines the same night.

This format of splitting the teams into different sites is unusual. Normally, all four teams would play at the same location, but to maintain safety with COVID-19, teams will now be split between to the two schools.

Head Coach Randy Jordan is ready to lead his varsity team of all seniors during this unprecedented year. This is his first year as head coach at Anson High School, but he brings with him decades of coaching experience.

The plan for Jordan and his team is to play as up-tempo as possible on both sides of the ball.

“We offensively want to push the ball and try to beat people at the floor, run our fast brake and try to score some easy baskets in transition,” Jordan said. “Defensively we’re going to be a press and run type of program.”

Jordan wants to create “organized chaos” on the floor — deflections, ball pressure, back-tips, turnovers — which can turn into transition points for the Bearcats.

This style of play fits the 12 roster team and their athleticism, according to Jordan. He plans on following the saying of “going out 100 mph out of the driveway.”

He said his team is hungry, especially because all 12 of them are seniors.

“They want to go out their senior year with the absolute best possible season that they can,” Jordan said. “I think because of that, that is the another reason why they’re buying in.”

Jordan believes Laynce Schuler, Sam Ingram and Masson Sanderson will be key players this season for the Bearcats.

Schuler is a 6’1” point-guard. Last year he averaged 22.4 points a game, 9.8 assists a game and 2.3 steals a game. He was also named First Team All-Conference.

“He’s going to be the leader on the floor as far as running the show,” Jordan said. “We want to get the ball in his hands so he can distribute it to people.”

Schuler’s assists landed him number one in the state and about third in the country, according to Jordan. On MaxPreps.com, Schuler is listed as number two on the “Final national high school boys basketball assist leaders.”

Ingram is about 6’4” and he will be a wing player for the team. Jordan said Ingram is a very good three-point shooter. He averaged 11.9 points a game and 6.3 rebounds a game.

“Sam’s got the ability to play inside and outside,” Jordan said. “He can hurt you by posting up and step on the three-pointer. He is a very good weapon.”

Another wing player is Sanderson. The 6’1” player averaged 9.9 points a game and 4.2 rebounds last season.

“Masson is very athletic,” Jordan said. “He runs the floor well and can hit the three.”

Jordan said all three of these key players have stepped up into leadership roles, but overall the entire team is working on helping each other on and off the floor. The team chemistry is coming together in front of Jordan’s eyes.

The team to beat in the Rocky River Conference is Forest Hills, according to Jordan. Forest Hills is the team to beat as they are among the top teams in the state year after year. Both West Stanly and Mount Pleasant are also very well coached and solid teams.

“We got our hands full!” Jordan said. “I think it’s going to be a competitive conference, but I’d like to believe that we’re going to be in the top two.”

Jordan is preparing for the game by focusing the team on what they do best, instead of worrying about the other team’s playing style. He promises the team will be a fun team to watch with the fast paced basketball.

It will take some time getting the team to be their best because of the COVID-19 restrictions changing how the normal game is played.

Players have to wear a mask both on and off the court. Only 25 spectators are allowed in the gym. When the women’s team plays, they will have their 25 family and friends. Once that ends, the gym will be cleared and the men’s 25 family and friends will be able to enter.

“Not only first game jitters and new coach, now you throw in all the new policies,” Jordan said. “It is going to be unique. It is going to be different, but at the same time it’s exciting. I know as coaches…we’re excited looking forward to playing and seeing what we can do out there.”

The games will be streamed online. You can pay a streaming fee, about the same as it would be to come to a game, to watch the Bearcats.

The women’s team, coached by Mack McDaniel, will start at 6 p.m. on Jan. 6, followed by the men’s team at 7:30 p.m.

Reach Liz O’Connell at 704-994-5471 or at eoconnell@ansonrecord.com. Follow on Twitter at @TheAnsonRecord.com.