Billings’ rebuilding efforts this season appear to be a bit ahead of schedule.
The Wildcats are fresh from recording the biggest upset at the Walnut Grove Tournament by knocking off sixth-seeded Lighthouse Christian 64-53 in the first round last week.
Billings, which has five first-year starters, went on to fall 76-59 to Forsyth in the second round Monday. But 10 games into the Wildcats’ season, they are a respectable 4-6 that includes a win over Clever.
“This is a good group,” coach Kendall Tilley said in the pre-season. “There's going to be a learning curve on the varsity for some of these guys because they either played jayvee or junior high last year. They know the system. But it might take us halfway through the year to jell as a varsity group and it might take until next year for them to see a lot of success.”
With only one senior, Tilley essentially is working with a two-year team.
“I don't want to put many expectations on them now because they don't have experience,” Tilley said. “They're going to be a good group once they see some action and get some games under their belts.”
Billings’ last three seasons saw Tilley play many of the same players each season.
“These guys match up to the guys we had last year. We just don't have a 6-foot-7 (Hayden Fender) like we did,” Tilley said. “I can see resemblances to last year's team.”
Cale Plowman has emerged as the Wildcats’ leading scorer with a 17.6 scoring average. He is shooting 54 percent from the field.
Plowman scored 21 points against both Clever and Lighthouse Christian.
“Cale reminds me of Kyle Tennis,” Tilley said. “He's a kid who likes to score and will go after every rebound. He has a lot of energy.”
Brayden Garbee has assumed the point guard duties and is averaging 12.8 points and 1.7 steals a night. Center Zach Boss’ norms are 10.5 points and 7.9 rebounds. Luke Vesci is averaging 8.3 points.
Boss recorded a double-double, with 17 points and 12 rebounds against Clever.
“Garbee reminds me a lot of Colton Plowman,” Tilley said. “Zach reminds me a lot of Hayden. He's a big kid who can rebound and play good defense. Luke reminds me of Jacob Henry. He'll play defense and shoot some 3s.”
Billings made a bid for a second straight upset by jumping on top of Forsyth 20-10. But the Wildcats were outscored 50-21 over the second and third quarters.
Plowman topped Billings with 16 points, while Jason Sekscinski added 14 and Bos 13.
Sparta in semifinals — Sparta’s boys made the semifinal round of the Walnut Grove Tournament by whipping Verona 77-48 Monday.
The Trojans meet Hollister at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Lady Trojans win easily — Sparta’s girls claimed a 71-48 triumph over Macks Creek at the Walnut Grove Tournament last week.
The Lady Trojans took a 7-2 record into their semifinal contest against Hollister on Tuesday.