Will they or won't they? That is the question one must ask regarding Winnacunnet's Harry Knowles and Kyle Ratcliffe. Will they be let back on the team, and play their senior seasons...or not? And earlier today, when I saw both players suit up for the Warriors in their Fall League game at the RAC vs. Central Catholic, I thought that I had my answer. I thought that since they were out there playing, and Coach McKenna was in the building it meant they were back on the team. But in the words of Lee Corso, not so fast my friend.
"Tryouts are in December," McKenna said. "We'll see what happens then." So the status of his two star seniors is still very much up in the air. I think he wants to give them a second chance, but at the same time will be very careful to not have a repeat of what happened with them last season.
I told McKenna how it must have been tough for Knowles and Ratcliffe to sit out the team's two playoff games last year. He had no sympathy for them, "It was their choice to not play. They didn't have their priorities in order."
That being said, just the fact that Knowles and Ratcliffe did play today is a step in the right direction for them. Winnacunnet had been playing together in leagues and tournaments all summer long, but today was the first time the pair had been a part of the action. According to McKenna, "This is their first foray back into things with us."
Just to recap the Knowles/Ratcliffe saga for those that don't know: Harry Knowles is a 6'2", maybe 6'3" wing, has very good size, strength and skill. Kyle Ratcliffe is a center, about 6'5", maybe 6'6". He's a dominant inside scorer, has a good jump shot, can beat most other centers down court in transition. Both players started and averaged 18+ points as sophomores. Last season as juniors they started strong, but soon both players suffered nagging injuries. Then they both were suspended at different times during the regular season, and the team lost games they otherwise likely would have won. Both players were then back, healthy and towards the end of the season the Warriors were playing as well as anyone in the state. Then, the night before their first round playoff game with Exeter, Coach McKenna suspended both players for the remainder of the season. Winnacunnet went on to beat the Blue Hawks, but lost to eventual runner-up Memorial in the quaterfinals.
All of this made for a very stressful season for McKenna, who enters his 6th year as head coach of the Warriors. He's a good guy, and a good coach though. So I truly hope this season goes more smoothly for him, he deserves it after last year.
If Kyle and Harry do play, the Warriors will be very tough to beat, as the team also returns another three year starter in point guard Ryan Dunn, as well as guard Jesse Gould, who had 16 points in the Memorial game. Dunn sat out today's Fall League game, he's a little banged up from playing soccer. He should be fine for the regular season though. Winnacunnet also has a handful of other solid supporting players.
So the status of Knowles and Ratcliffe is still up in the air. But even if they don't play, don't count out McKenna and his gritty team. "We'll be a good team, and we're going to play hard," he said. "With or without them."
Stay tuned, folks. Because this episode of Winnacunnet basketball is To Be Continued...