FRONT ROYAL -- Warren County first-year coach Alex Santella knows his boys basketball team well.

Santella was the junior varsity coach the last few years and has previously coached all of the players. He said hopes that will help this season as the program tries to have success.

"They know my routine as a coach and philosophy," Santella said. "And I'm here to do the best we can and build this program back up."

The Wildcats lost leading scorer Gabe Davis to graduation. Davis averaged 15.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, an area-best 3.7 assists and an area-best 4.0 steals per contest. Warren County also lost Michael Kelly (7.0 points per game) and Bryce Post (6.1 points per game) to graduation.

Santella said it will take a team effort to replace the points lost to graduation.

"We're going to have to have guys to step up," he said. "We need everybody on that bench, every starter to contribute. That's what we need from this whole varsity lineup."

Santella said there were some football players who missed some time due to the football team being in the postseason, but he said things were going well.

The Wildcats will have some size led by 6-foot-3 senior shooting guard/point guard Will Waller and 6-foot-3 senior center Damian Adams, who is new to the team.

Waller, one of five seniors on the team, said it means more to him this season as a senior.

"It makes me want to have a good last season playing basketball playing in front of everybody," Waller said.

The other three seniors are 6-foot power forward Aadon Atwood, 5-foot-5 point guard Ethan Funk and 6-foot small forward/power forward Ashton Baldwin.

Funk said the seniors have done a good job providing leadership for the squad.

"I think we have a good leadership," Funk said. "Four seniors all played last year. So we know what we need to do to win. I feel confident that we will do better."

Last season Funk played a key role for the team and he said his confidence has grown from that experience.

"It helps that I have more experience than I did last year," Funk said. "I know a lot more. I feel like I'm a better player than I was."

Santella said that in addition to the seniors, newcomers junior shooting guard Elijah Winston and junior shooting guard Matthew Lynch should be solid additions to the team this season.

Waller said he believes the team can have success this season.

"I feel like we have a lot of potential to do well," Waller said. "I think we have a lot of good chemistry."

The Wildcats open the season by hosting Handley on Nov. 29.

Santella said his goal is for his team to compete and keep improving throughout the season.

"I want to compete, be tough and be a scrappy team," he said. "That's what we're looking for every single day. Every coach's expectations is to win a championship. Me personally, I just want to maximize our potential every single day and do the best we can."

Contact Tommy Keeler Jr. at