Mike Tobin, the highly successful coach at Woodland High, will be giving basketball directions for the Purple Hurricanes, trying to set his charges on a path to the state playoffs.
The Canes open play in Region 5B-AAA and will feature not only speed but also some excellent perimeter shooting that could prove difficult to shut down at crunch time.
Last year the Canes made the playoffs with an overall 15-8 record, 7-4 in the region. It was a familiar result, as they made the playoffs eight times during the 10-year tenure of Dennis Godfrey, who retired in the summer citing health concerns.
During a decade of playing for Tobin, Woodland’s squads also enjoyed success, such as 10 straight winning seasons, including appearances in the Top 10 in the state eight times. Last year’s Wildcats were ranked as high as No. 4 in the state — the highest of the Tobin era — and compiled a 26-3 record, earning their mentor accolades as the Region 7-AAAA coach of the year. He won 177 games against 88 losses at Woodland. His varsity career record is 361 wins with 159 losses over 20 years.
This year’s Canes must learn to play winning ball without the services of J.R. Davis, the co-Bartow County basketball player of the year who averaged 20 points, eight rebounds and five steals for them a year ago.
He will be hard to replace, but the Canes will have both talent and experience — including two juniors with extensive experience — when Tobin makes his coaching debut Saturday against Rome High.
Returning for the Canes is junior Ryan Davis, a 6-foot, 4-inch guard.
His sophomore year Davis had the Canes’ best field goal percentage average, shooting 48 percent. He made 42 percent of his 3-point shots, averaged 13 points per game and grabbed six rebounds.
He played for Aim High — AAU Basketball, qualifying for Peach Jam but went to Peach State instead, where his team won the Peach State Tournament.
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