FRONT ROYAL – Warren County’s boys basketball team will use a different playing style this season.

The Wildcats are looking to use their speed and cause havoc with a full-court press. Warren County head coach John Kelly said he’s looking forward to the new defense.

“We’re going to push the ball and we’re going to play a tight man-to-man defense with lots of pressure,” Kelly said on Tuesday. “It’s a fun way to coach and a fun way to play. It’s going to be an adventure for us every game.”

Kelly said the team lost seven players off of last year’s squad and much of the size that they had. So he decided to switch defenses and take full advantage of his team’s speed and athleticism.

Warren County junior point guard Gabe Davis said he thinks that using the pressure defense will give the Wildcats an advantage.

“I’m really excited,” Davis said. “When we have this fast of a team running the press on people – they’re going to be pretty scared of us. I think it’s going to be pretty hard to break our press.”

Davis split time last year at point guard but should be the starter this season. The Wildcats return two seniors and have nine juniors and one freshman.

Kelly said that freshman Elias Carter should be a real help to the team this season.

“I think he’s going to be a really good player,” Kelly said of Carter. “He’s going to be a good ballplayer someday.”

Juniors Michael Kelly and Bryce Post will be looked upon to lead the way inside the paint. The team’s two seniors are guards Karenzo Hogue and Kohl Baugher.

Hogue said that he feels like the team is more serious about trying to compete and win than it was last season.

“I feel like we’re all invested in the team,” Hogue said. “I feel like we lacked that last year. But this year we’re definitely all invested. We’re all wanting to win games again and get better as a team and as a family.”

Even though the Wildcats don’t have a lot of size, Baugher said that the team has a lot of heart and that and speed will make up for the lack of size. He said the team has high hopes for what they can do this season.

“It doesn’t matter about our height, we have a lot more heart than a lot of other players,” Baugher said. “So I think we’re a big family. We all know each other really well. We hang out all the time, we laugh with each other. When it comes to this court – we dominate, we want to dominate each and every possession. When we step on the court – it’s ours. We want to win the game and if we don’t, we’re going to learn from it.”

John Kelly said that he feels like this new style of play will help his team this season, especially in the Class 3 Northwestern District.

“There isn’t a big plethora of big men in our district, so it’s going to be who has the hot hand that night and who can apply pressure and cause the other team to make mistakes,” John Kelly said. “That’s what we’ve been gearing toward is controlling what we want the game to be like instead of letting the other team trying to control us like happened quite a bit last year.”

The Wildcats went 9-12 last season and John Kelly said that he wants his young team to have even more wins this season.

Hogue said that he just wants the team to enjoy the season in his senior year.

“We all have one common goal and that’s just to win games and do the best we can,” Hogue said. “I just want everybody to have fun. This is my senior year and I just want everybody to have fun. We just want to compete, and at the end of the season the win/loss record it doesn’t matter to us. We just want to have fun, win games and play ball.”

Warren County plays at Strasburg on Dec. 3 in the regular season opener for both teams.

Baugher said he has some lofty goals for the team, but one’s he believes are achievable.

“My goals for the team are to make (regionals),” he said. “I want to get another district (title banner) hanging up (in Warren County’s gym) because the last one we have was 1995. And that’s just not good for the basketball team. So I’d like to get a 2020 one to go up there.”

– Contact Tommy Keeler Jr. at tkeeler@nvdaily.com