Despite loss, things looking up for Wilton-Lyndeborough boys’ basketball

WLC head coach Cam Taber rallies his players before the fourth quarter. 

WLC head coach Cam Taber rallies his players before the fourth quarter.  PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

WLC's Jacob Phillips goes for a loose rebound against Derryfield. 

WLC's Jacob Phillips goes for a loose rebound against Derryfield.  PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

Wilton-Lyndeborough junior Ben Jacob goes to the basket as Derryfield defends during the Cougars' 61-33 win over the Warriors in Wilton Monday.

Wilton-Lyndeborough junior Ben Jacob goes to the basket as Derryfield defends during the Cougars' 61-33 win over the Warriors in Wilton Monday. PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

Wilton-Lyndeborough junior Ben Jacob drives toward the hoop.

Wilton-Lyndeborough junior Ben Jacob drives toward the hoop. PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

WLC's Colby Collins dribbles upcourt against Derryfield. 

WLC's Colby Collins dribbles upcourt against Derryfield.  —PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

 WLC's Tyler Gill goes for a finger roll against Derryfield.

 WLC's Tyler Gill goes for a finger roll against Derryfield. —PHOTO BY BEN CONANT BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

By BEN CONANT

For the Ledger-Transcript

Published: 01-09-2024 2:22 PM

Visiting Derryfield got the best of the Wilton-Lyndeborough boys on Monday night, but the Warrior hoopers are already well on their way to meeting their season goals under new head coach Cam Taber.

“The team only had one win last year, so really, anything above that is a success," Taber said after Monday's 61-33 loss. “But we'd love to get six, seven wins and get a playoff game. That's the hope. That's the goal. But really, if they're having fun and everybody leaves with a smile, that's a success."

Undefeated Derryfield got its second win of the year over WLC thanks to its superior size and length, making it difficult for the Warriors to play their in-and-out game. 

"They're a big team," Taber said. "They're a long team. They're tall. I mean, they're all taller than me, and I'm 6'4", so, yeah. And they hit a lot of shots. When the other team's hitting and you're not, sometimes it goes that way."

Despite the loss, the Warriors (3-5) have already surpassed last year's win total and have the potential to meet their other season goals, as well. Both the offense and defense start with junior Ben Jacob, who is a shot-blocking force in the paint on one end and a good post scorer who can draw defensive attention and kick out on the other.

"Getting into the post, getting the ball down low and kicking it out into the corners is something we do well," Taber said.

Jacob was able to score 24 of WLC's 33 points on Monday, but the Warriors only hit one three-pointer all evening, allowing the Cougars to double the WLC big man pre-entry pass and collapse further on the catch. On a normal day against a non-juggernaut, the Warriors are a bit more dangerous from beyond the arc, where sharpshooters Nate Gill and Colby Collins can make opponents pay -- something Pittsfield learned early in the year, when Collins hit a game-winning three. 

Taber, who is also WLC's first-year athletic director, inherited a bit of a mess, as the Warriors' gym floor was under construction to start the season, forcing the team into Florence Rideout Elementary for half-court practices. That less-than-ideal situation is still showing itself via the Warriors' conditioning and transition game, but every day back in their usual gym is a blessing. 

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"When you've only got half of an elementary school gym, you can't work on running and our conditioning isn't where it needs to be," Taber said. "But it's nice to be back in here. Any game we play in here is a good game for me."

After a five-game road trip to open the season, WLC will play the majority of the remaining schedule at home. Next up, they'll host Sunapee on Friday evening. The Warriors have two upcoming games against winless Nute and another with Pittsfield. If they can take care of business in those games and sneak out another win or two elsewhere, a playoff game is not out of the question.