Hayesville High School varsity boys basketball team is off to a great start heading into their respective conference playoffs. Jake McTaggart has been a big reason why. Standing at 6’7″, the freshman forward has been instrumental to the success of the Yellow Jackets of Hayesville, NC.
For most freshmen with size similar to McTaggart, it takes quite an adjustment to become acclimated to the speed of the varsity game. Coming into the season, McTaggart knew that it would take some hard work and dedication to become a consistent contributor for the team.
“Varsity is definitely a big adjustment from middle school. I had to adjust to the size and speed. In middle school, everyone was much smaller than me and I could play “bully ball” so to speak, but at the varsity level you have to use more skill. That has been the biggest adjustment for me, just getting used to the size and skill of older players,” McTaggart said.
From the outside looking in, most would say he’s adjusted rather well so far. He’s been a consistent piece for a Hayesville team that stands 20-4 while also boasting an 11-1 conference record. Finishing first in conference play was one of the goals McTaggart and his teammates set before the season started.
“My team and I set goals at the very beginning of the season to be regular season champions, conference tournament champions and our biggest goal is to win the 1A state championship,” McTaggart said.
A large majority of the goals McTaggart has are team-oriented and derive from inspirations within the city of Hayesville.
“One of the things that inspires me most are those little kids that are always watching you. I remember going to high school games and watching guys like Zach Cottrell play and thinking that I’d love to be like that one day,” McTaggart said.
When the aforementioned Zach Cottrell was a senior, he helped lead his 2016 Hayesville team to an identical 11-1 conference record before falling to Cherokee in the conference championship match. McTaggart and his teammates are looking forward to making it back to the conference title game and going even further.
“We won the regular season championship and we are playing in the conference tourney now, chasing that next goal.”
With goal oriented team players like McTaggart and a plethora of young like minded teammates, expect great things for Hayesville High School basketball over these next few years.