Coming into the 2021-2022 season the future is bright for the Andrews Wildcats. They have a familiar face but a new man leading the program in Matt Maenlle. His father last year’s head coach, is still with the team but now as the lead assistant. It is such a cool thing to see him give up the head coaching position to be able to pass the torch to his son. With that said, don’t expect a ton to change as the two have worked together to revive the Andrews program over the last several years. They have done just that other than a small step back last year in large part due to Covid.
Last Year’s Team:
As mentioned, last year’s team did take a small step back going 5-9, but a large part of that was due to Covid. Because of Covid they saw their star point guard Kabe Ellis transfer to try and get a full season in Georgia. With his loss, a very young team struggled at times but could take a lot of positives out of the season for sure. They found some young players that really started to emerge as the season went on in guys like Isaac Weaver and Donovan Batemen. They lost a few seniors but only Bryson Holloway was a major contributor. They also lost five games by less than seven points showing just how close they were from turning a corner.
This Year’s Team:
Expect this year’s team to turn that corner with a lot of solid pieces that are returning. Some of those youthful pieces from last year are now guys with a solid year of experience. They also have some new faces that could be big additions this year. Austin Martin missed last year due to injury. If his success on the football translates to success on the basketball court he could be huge for the Wildcats. Cameron Rattler is a sophomore that head coach Matt Maenlle said has really made some big improvements during the offseason. The Wildcats also have some pretty good post depth and size. Rattler is 6’3, Zack Queen is 6’4”, and Tyler West is 6’5” 250 lbs. That size could really be a problem for some teams around the conference.
- Hayesville (12-0) 2. Murphy (8-4) 3. Swain (7-5) 4. Robbinsville (6-6) 4. Cherokee (6-6) 6. Andrews (3-9) 7. Rosman (0-12)
With Rosman no longer in the conference, the Big Smoky Mtn conference is now made up of 6 teams. Hayesville is the obvious favorite to win it again, but the rest of the conference could be a total toss up. Robbinsville and Swain both return a ton of players and could challenge Hayesville on any given night. Then you never know what players Cherokee may have brought in. Murphy has a lot of good athletes and could upset any team on the right night. Andrews should be right in the thick of things in a very competitive conference.
-Home against Franklin on Friday December 3rd and away at Franklin on Saturday January 15th.
-Home against Tellico Plains Monday December 13th and away at Tellico Plains Thursday January 20th.
-Away at Hayesville Tuesday December 14th (Live on fyntv.com) and home against Hayesville Tuesday January 25th.
-Playing in Swain’s Christmas tournament December 28th, 29th and 30th. Open against Smoky Mountain on the 28th.
-Home against Murphy Friday January 7th and away at Murphy Tuesday February 8th in the season finale.
Full Schedule can be found at:
Preseason interview with coach Matt Maenlle:
Expectations & Goals:
This year is considered by many to be a building year for the Wildcats considering they don’t have a single senior on the team. Don’t tell the Wildcats that though they are looking to get back into the top half of the conference. Just as they did in the 18-19 and 19-20 seasons. They have the pieces to do it and will look to push the pace this season with their strong core of guards. The conference is going to be very competitive and one or two games could be the difference between 2nd and 5th. Do last year’s close losses turn into close wins this year? Time will tell but expect the Wildcats to compete night in and night out.