By JOSH MCDONALD
Is this the year?
Kellogg Wildcat boys basketball fans have been asking themselves and each other this question for quite some time, including for the last four years.
Kellogg has sent a basketball team to the state tournament five times in the last six seasons, with the closest being a fourth place finish two years ago.
But this year's team is different.
This year the Wildcats have one of the deepest team they have had since 2012.
As long as I have been watching basketball in Kellogg (which has been about 15 years of being able to thoroughly understand the game) I have seen some very good teams, but not one of them has been able to grab the brass ring.
However, the Wildcats may not have brought home the championship, but they have not exactly been slouches either.
Kellogg has been in the midst of a basketball renaissance of sorts since 2004/05 when the Wildcats surprised a lot of people and brought home a fourth place trophy.
Beginning with that 04/05 team, the Wildcats have sent eight teams down to Meridian High School after not sending a team at all since 1997.
Now, getting there and winning there are two different things, Kellogg is a combined 5-11 in their last eight trips to state which has led several pundits to say that Kellogg just can't hang with the teams from the southern part of the state.
I have seen almost every single one of those games, either as a spectator, a player, or a writer and I can honestly say that there has definitely been a styles clash when Kellogg locks horns with a team from down south.
North Idaho teams seem to play a different version of the game compared to the teams south of Lewiston.
A quicker more fluid version as opposed to the slow, grind it out pace that the southern teams play at.
But, like I said, this Wildcat team is different.
They are capable of scoring a high volume of points, but their defense is one that grinds opponents into making mistakes and the Wildcats capitalize off of them.
As of right now the Wildcats are averaging 60.1 points per game and only allowing their opponents to score 41.2.
That 20 point differential may just be the difference between the Wildcats of year's past and this year's squad.
At the beginning of the year, Kellogg coach Jeff Nearing made a comment to me that has stood out as the season has progressed.
“If we can hold other teams teams to right around 40 points or less we are going to win more than we lose.”
Those words have rang true this season as the Wildcats have posted a stout 18-2 record and own a record of 15-1 in games where they held their opponents to somewhere in the 40's or less.
This team generally rotates about nine deep, but has 12 players on it that are more than capable of getting the job done, so if you combine that depth, with the defense and the offense that this Kellogg team has there is a good chance that this year might just be THE year.