"This is a completely different team, they graduated four or five seniors, a couple all-staters, and that was the nucleus of last year's team. There's not a lot of guys on this year's team that got any playing time last year," Ragsdale said. "We're gonna win a lot of games, but in a different way. I believe this team has the heart, the passion and the mentality to compete for a state championship."
The Bears held their annual Blue and White game on Oct. 11, and the senior high boys took center stage.
The game was a tight, defensive battle from the start with the white team, led by senior Matt Turnbough taking a 3-2 lead with 8:54 left in the first quarter. By the end of the first 15 minute quarter the white team had a narrow 12-11 lead over the blue team.
The teams battled back and forth, but with 8:30 left in the fourth quarter the score was 22-20 in favor of the blue team. That's when the game got interesting. Junior Josh Cathey helped the blue team push its lead to 31-24 with just 2:45 left in the game. Just over a minute later, Turnbough, senior Josh Parker and company had brought the white team to within six.
Tight defense by the blue team was able to hold off the rally in the end, and the blue team won by just three points; 34-31.
Ragsdale said he thought the game went well.
"It went great. We had great energy, we had a bounce in our step. They're ready to get out here and play against someone other than themselves," Ragsdale said. "Tonight was a great example of how well we mesh together."
Instead of trying to control the game from the bench by calling a play every time down the court, the first year head coach said he let the teams decide how the game would go.
"Most of [the game] was just letting them play. There weren't many sets run tonight, even when we would try to run a set, their minds are so amped right now, they didn't run it right anyway," Ragsdale said, laughing.
In other action, the senior high Lady Bears faced off and the blue team, led by senior guard Sydney Peck picked up the win. The junior high boys white team crushed the blue team by nearly 30 points. Ninth graders Konner Alexander and Landen Bailey played big minutes in helping the white team win. The junior high girls blue team won 15-9 led by freshmen Breanna Henslee and Jordan Rutledge.
Ragsdale said all four teams of the Mammoth Spring Bears are ready for the season.
"They're pumped. They're ready to go with a crowd and community that backs us the way that they do. We know that whenever we step on the court our fans are behind us, and that adds so much to this team, it gives us energy and enthusiasm to continue to compete and to win," Ragsdale said. "They are great fans.
The senior high Bears will begin their state title defense in the Norfork Classic. The other Mammoth Spring teams will host Black Rock on Oct. 15, to begin the season.