With nearly three months left before the playoffs, the Winter Park Wildcats boys basketball team did something they couldn’t do in their entire 2011-2012 season: won their seventh game.
Thirteen games into the season the Wildcats have already generously eclipsed their last season’s 6-21 record. Now at 8-5, they’re already poised to rise from the ashes of a season they’d rather forget.
But that season also built some of the fledgling players who would be stars on the varsity squad today.
In the Wildcats’ most recent win, by 54-42 against Lake Nona on Dec. 18, Jay Wimbley showed why he’s the team leader on scoring, just a year after being the only player with any experience on the Wildcats’ championship squad of 2010-2011. Against Lake Nona he threw down 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the process. He’s averaging nearly 15 points per game this season.
On offense, Wimbley has stood alone with his double-digit scoring average, but among the Wildcats’ top seven shooters the ball has been spread nearly evenly, with most players averaging between five and seven points per game.
On defense the team also spreads the effort around, with players routinely grabbing a pair or more of steals per game. Against Lake Nona that added up to 15 total steals — scrappy play that could have spelled the difference in the game.
That kind of high-energy play has made a big difference in their last five wins. In four of those games Winter Park prevailed by six points or less. In their wild 54-52 overtime win against East River Dec. 12, the Wildcats nabbed 16 steals and 21 defensive rebounds while Wimbley rained down 19 points.
They’ll be looking to keep that intensity up with a showdown against Auburndale at Boone High School on Jan. 5 at 3:30 p.m. Then they’ll head back home at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 9 against Boone (10-3).