Head Coach Walt Cline hopes to bring the Lions back to the state tournament and hang another sectional championship banner before Gilbert High School closes its doors.
“I have an outstanding group of kids, not just players. It’s a pleasure to coach kids that show respect and play with class. I am fortunate that many of the players have a strong faith in God and as a group our philosophy is all things are capable through Christ,” said Cline.
The Lions lost four starters from their 2009-10 team not including their sixth man. The only returning starter from last year’s team is Kyle Smith who averaged 14 points per game.
“With all the young inexperienced players it will be a growing process, with the transition from junior varsity and middle school,” said Cline. “I am counting on Kyle to provide us with stability inside to allow the younger players to gain experience and grow.”
Cline says Ashton Cline and Jordan Abbott will also be counted on to play larger roles this season and that Trevor Cline, Gabe May, Matt Lester, Cody St. Clair, Joe Tilley, Trevor Abbott, Roger Ellis, and Sam Cline will all be stepping up the roles on the team, either as a starter or off the bench.
“We are in the same situation we were my first year with a lack of playing experience,” said Cline. “My first year I started a J.V. team from the previous year and they had no varsity experience. This season we have one year to play before consolidation, so I will have to change my approach.”
Bub Ellis will return as Cline’s assistant coach making it their third year coaching the high school team and their fifth year as a coaching duo. Cline says the success Gilbert’s had could not have been accomplished without Ellis.
The Lions look to kick off their season Friday, Dec. 10 on the road against Mt. View. Gilbert will play their first home game of the season Jan. 7, 2011 against Mountain Mission Academy.
Cline remains optimistic and confident about his squad and plans to “out every night, play hard, and have fun” for the Lion’s last year.
“This will be an emotional season for the Gilbert community as well as the other communities in the county. I hope we can improve as the season progresses and give the community something to cheer about come tournament time.”