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Ozark Conference Basketball.................................................. 22 COC Large Basketball............................................................ 44 COC Small Basketball............................................................ 60 Big 8 Basketball................................................................... 76 Carl Junction Basketball........................................................ 84 Mid-Lakes Conference Basketball............................................ 85
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Davis and Ridder Ready to Lead Chiefs Back to State Title This is already a group that has earned so much. Two seniors heading to high-level college programs. Two numbers retired, some months ahead of graduation. A trip to the state championship. Two straight district titles. Plenty of accolades to lean on, but, for this team, there’s still one more to grasp. One that starts with Jared Ridder and Cam Davis, and ends with a state title. Ridder and Davis have played on the court together since third grade and, now, are ready for their golden swan song. Not long from now, Ridder will trade his Kickapoo gold and brown for Xavier’s navy and white, and Davis his for the United States Naval Academy’s navy and gold. It’s easy to see the chemistry. The two are constantly communicating. Constantly talking. It’s communication that’s not even always heard, just observed. It’s a Thursday afternoon practice, some weeks before tipoff. Davis hustles down a loose ball, briefly peaks over his left shoulder and, tumbling out of bounds, slings a rainbow to Ridder. The 6’7” forward need barely move and, eventually, the possession ends in points. Typical. “I know where he is at all times, and he knows where I’m at,” Davis said. “Whenever he’s going, he gets the ball. Whenever I’m going, I get the ball. We just feed off each other really. He’s my best friend.” Best friends since fourth grade, Davis and Ridder signed their letters of intent together this fall. “It’s been easy for me and Jared to play together,” Davis said. “We’ve been best friends [forever]. It’s just really easy for us to talk to each other out there, and everybody else responds really well to it.” But that chemistry wasn’t enough in last year’s state title game. The Chiefs nearly secured their third Class 5 championship, but a two-point deficit ballooned to 13 over the game’s final 3.5 minutes against Duke signee Jayson Tatum and Chaminade. Tatum scored 40. Davis 19. Ridder nine. The Chiefs lost, 72-59. With the defeat looming large, season’s end still meant a pair of all-state selections for Ridder and Davis, and the retired numbers that come with that honor. But it also meant an empty feeling and a team starving for the next step. “The state championship [loss] really motivated me,” Ridder, who averaged 19.3 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, said. “I really wanted to win that game, so, in the offseason, I just worked my tail off.” Ridder and Davis spent much of their offseason with MOKAN Elite, one of the country’s premier AAU programs, and were part of MOKAN’s first Nike Peach Jam championship team. (The Peach Jam is widely considered the most prestigious AAU hoops tournament in the country). “Obviously, you don’t get to have the talent they have and the skill-level they have without working. And not just those two. We’re blessed [at Kickapoo] because I can text guys right now and say, ‘Hey, get back here at 7:30 p.m.,’ and they’ll be here,” Kickapoo head coach Dick Rippee said. “I think they genuinely enjoy being together and working as a team.” Despite the accolades surrounding Ridder and Davis, Kickapoo’s year-in-andyear-out success is established by the program’s culture, not its talent. It’s a culture
By Matt Turer that gives way to upperclassmen who have put in the work and one that recognizes the importance of team, and not individual, growth through practice. “Everybody has to buy in,” Davis said. “If we don’t buy in, then it’s just kind of a waste of time and waste of talent. We don’t want to do that. With everybody we’ve got, we’re poised to make another run. It feels like everyone is buying in.” The Chiefs are a program that hasn’t won a state championship since 2006, a title that was handed to them after Vashon was forced to vacate its championship win over Kickapoo due to eligibility violations. Before that, the last true Kickapoo title came in 2003, over Raytown South. But last year’s Chiefs had that next title in their crosshairs. Kickapoo finished 29-3 in 2015-16, averaging 75.1 points per game and allowing 56.8 behind a versatile, deep roster of scorers. Ridder and Davis (14.0 PPG) led that group but were flanked by outgoing seniors Isaac Johnson (11.6 PPG, 4.0 APG), Niekie Thomas-Fontleroy (11.7 PPG) and Derrick Roberson (5.9 PPG). Even without that trio, and four other graduates, Kickapoo returns five of its top eight scoring threats, including seniors Travis Vokolek (6’6”), Isaac Blakeslee (6’1”) and Mitch Closser (6’5”). However, the absence of seven seniors means the presence of seven new faces, some of which will be looked to for big minutes, including senior Corey Dye and sophomore Donyae McCaskill. “They have want-to and competitiveness and great motors, and they know their role,” Rippee said. “We could start [Dye]. He’s an unbelievable defender. He just hounds you. He’ll get you upset without even touching you. “And [McCaskill] has a chance to be pretty special. He’s got a 35-inch vertical. He’s pretty athletic. He’s really improved his shot.” Rippee isn’t alone in gushing about this group’s defensive potential, either. “This is the greatest defensive team we’ve had,” Ridder said. “We have a lot of quick guards and our big men are really mobile, so we should be very good defensively this year. “I just need to step up and lead the team. We have a lot of young guys in here, so I just need to teach them the right things and keep this program rolling.” Senior Jackson Auer, juniors Sam Wallin and Cole Forbes and sophomore Keyshawn Jackson also make the varsity jump this year. Potentially unmatched top-end talent and a heck of a lot of depth is what looks to define this year’s Kickapoo Chiefs. “We play with great cohesiveness and we’ve got a bunch of young guys who are eager to learn,” Davis said. “Once you have that, you have all the pieces to be successful. You might not be the most athletic, most skilled or most talented, but if you work hard and get to your spots on defense and block out and rebound, you have the chance to beat anybody.” With the chance to beat anybody, that elusive title shouldn’t be out of the question. “I feel like there are some teams that definitely have the talent we do and are eager to get at it,” Davis said. “We made some noise last year, but I’m not really worried about favorites right now. I’m just worried about putting in the work we have to and seeing how it plays out in March.”
Now is your time to â€šthriveâ€ş. D AY. E V E N I N G . G R A D U AT E P R O G R A M S .
New cast, same expectations for Kickapoo By Kai Raymer What do you do with a brand new championship ring? Putting it in safe and stable hands is a good start. So when the Kickapoo Lady Chiefs received their Class 5 state basketball champion rings last spring, Ari Acuff knew what to do with hers. “I just keep it in the box at my house,” said Acuff, now a senior. “I just have my parents keep it so I don’t lose it.” Acuff and the Lady Chiefs earned those state title rings in memorable fashion last March. Kickapoo prevailed 63-53 over Kirkwood in the Class 5 title game, one of the most physical contests you’ll see in girls’ high school basketball. “I remember (the finals) game really well. I remember it was really rough,” said Kickapoo senior and University of California-Irvine commit Jordan Sanders. “There were a lot of fouls.” Kirkwood was whistled for 35 fouls, leading to a MSHSAA ShowMe Showdown record 53 free throw attempts by Kickapoo. Bruises, bumps, cuts and floor burns were plentiful. Then-sophomore Audrey Warren, who had 12 points and 10 rebounds, left the game multiple times with injuries. “They (Kirkwood) were just getting frustrated with us and so they’d bump us a little more than they normally would and the refs were calling it,” Acuff said. The outcome marked Kickapoo’s sixth state championship overall and fourth since 2000. Now, Kickapoo wants to get greedy. “I don’t really know how to describe (the feeling of winning a state championship),” Sanders said. “It made me want to win state all over again.”
Turning point When the calendar turned from December 2015 to January 2016, Kickapoo turned into a different team – for the better. “I don’t know exactly what game it is where we took off, but I think it was right after the
Pink and White,” Sanders said. “I think everybody just came together.” Kickapoo was 8-3 on January 1 and reeled off 21 straight victories on its way to the Class 5 state championship. Kickapoo left no doubt during that run, posting an average margin of victory of 32.5 points during their second-half surge. The Lady Chiefs turbo-clocked quality teams such as Branson, Hillcrest, Camdenton, Ozark and Bolivar. “I think we all just meshed,” Acuff said. “For a while, we were playing as individuals and then we started finally playing as a team.” Kickapoo flipped the switch on its tempo after December 31. The Lady Chiefs scored 70 or more points 10 times during their 21-game winning streak. Chiefs coach Jim Pendergrass wants more of the same this winter. “We want to play an up-tempo pace and developing our depth will be a key for our success,” Pendergrass said when detailing Kickapoo’s preseason outlook. “For us to have a great season, we need to be really good on defense and at rebounding the ball.”
Calling card Kickapoo’s scoring output was gaudy at times last season, but the real key to Kickapoo’s success came on the defensive end of the floor. The Lady Chiefs held the opposition to 40 or fewer points 12 times from January 1 through the state finals. That strength – defense – is a bit of a question mark heading into a new season. Two defensive stalwarts, Laura Vierkant and Audrey Warren are gone. Vierkant’s a 2016 KHS graduate who’s now playing at Southwest Baptist University. Warren and her family moved to Texas. Additionally, guard Leah Vokolek, a Missouri State volleyball commit, has decided not to play this year after sitting out last season with a knee injury while Taya Hall – one of the tallest players on the team at 6’2” – graduated early.
“Laura was quick and on the ball, and Audrey was just everywhere on defense,” Acuff said. “I think it’s a matter of people stepping up into new roles.” Thankfully, Kickapoo will have one of the area’s top all around players patrolling the floor in Sanders. “Jordan provides us a lift on both ends of the floor,” Pendergrass said. “She is a long and athletic player and provides a mismatch for the player she has to go against. Jordan has tremendous physical strength and power.” The rangy 5’10” forward averaged 16 points and seven rebounds per game last season and can do damage inside or outside on either end. Sanders draws inspiration from notable USA Olympians. “I really like watching Maya Moore play, just because she plays hard all the time,” Sanders said. “And definitely Candace Parker, too, is someone I’ve looked up to.”
New leaders Leadership duties figure to fall on the team’s only two seniors, Acuff and Sanders. While only three seniors played in Kickapoo’s predominant eight-man rotation last season, the remaining five non-senior players – Jordan Wersinger, Hannah Collins, Warren, Sanders and Acuff – had all played a lot of varsity minutes by March. Now, it’s Acuff and Sanders in the senior class, Wersinger and Collins leading the junior class, then a bunch of new and unproven players stepping in. Kickapoo will also depend on the play of a group of five newcomers: sophomores Autumn Stephens, Natasha Whittet, Katrice Jackson, and Lexi Armstrong, and freshman Jaden Wiley. “I just want to try to be a leader and help everyone on the court, especially the underclassmen,” Acuff said. “We have some new shoes to fill.” Kickapoo starts a new season having to replace over 50 percent of its scoring from last season. “We have four players with varsity experience and a bunch of young kids,” Pendergrass said. “Our veterans must bring us consistency and leadership.” Of course, defending a state title means having a target on your back in each game. Bring it on, says Sanders. “I’ve thought about it,” Sanders said. “It makes it more fun. You have to go out every night and be ready.”
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Head Coach: Jared O’Quinn 2015-16 Record: 12-16
2015-16 Record: 18-7 – Ozark Conference Runner-Up
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Camdenton graduated six seniors, four of which were starters, from last season’s team. Those losses include Brady Kempf, Braden DeMark, Hunter Hood and Michael Hake. (The other two were Kyle Snyder and Riley Shriver). • Things will start with senior Dyllan Decker, who is the lone returning starter. O’Quinn on Decker: “Dyllan is a superior athlete that has great threepoint range and has the ability to finish at the rim.” • Senior Hunter Glynn and junior Connor Graves are Camdenton’s other two returning lettermen. • Juniors Isaiah Lumley, Jay Griffin, Grant Norton and Garett Colliher, along with sophomores Keegan Ford, Kelton Virtue, Andrew Butts and Jabyn Shockley and freshman Brandon Pasley, are all expected to play important minutes this season. • The Lakers’ district will have a much different feel with Jefferson City moving out and Springfield Central and Willard moving in. Waynesville and Lebanon remain in the district from last year. • Camdenton is seeking its first district title since 1982.
• Camdenton will be faced with the tough task of replacing four senior starters, including Bailey Rezabek, Sophie Shore and Alyssa Ripley. Rezabek, now playing at SBU, scored more than 1,500 points in her career. Shore—now at Evangel—and Ripley each had more than 1,000 career points. • Senior Blair Kurtz is the lone returning starter. Junior Coley Rezabek will also see a greatly expanded role. Caffey said of the duo: “Coley will be a strong player for us. She is a very universal player that will do whatever is asked of her. Blair is also another player to watch. She has led us defensively, and this year will be our point guard.” • Losing more than 3,500-career points of scoring will be felt in a major way, so Caffey is turning her team’s focus to defense: “This team’s effort and heart will not go without being noticed. They have the mentality it takes to play a hard-nose type of defense. I like a team that can get up and pressure the ball, and this group of young ladies will do just that.” • Camdenton loses always-tough Jefferson City from its district but gains two teams in Springfield Central and Willard. Lebanon and last year’s district champion Waynesville remain in the district.
Head Coach Jared O’Quinn’s on his team’s identity: “Our identity will be associated with how hard we work on and off the court. As a team, we know we will have to outwork our opponents each and every night to achieve our goals and that is our mindset from day one. We want our players to be selfless by making the extra pass, setting great screens and doing little things, and we think if our players can do this, it will put us in a good situation to win ball games.”
Head Coach Staci Caffey’s thoughts on this year’s team: “I really think we will be competitive in every game. I know we lost some key players, but we also have a talented group of returners who are ready to step up in their new roles. I love the heart and work ethic these young ladies play with. I am excited to see what they do this year.”
Coach Staci Caffey
11/29-12/3 @ Marshall Tournament
11/22 @ Marshfield
12/26-12/29 @ Blue & Gold Tournament
12/1-3 @ Rogers (Ark.) Tournament
1/6 vs. Parkview (1st Conference Game)
12/27-30 @ Pink & White Tournament
1/25-28 @ Bolivar Tournament
1/16-19 @ Bolivar Tournament
2/21 vs. Lebanon (Senior Night)
2/20 vs. Bolivar (Senior Night)
Head Coach: Staci Caffey
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Head Coach: Brian McTague 2015-16: 19-10 – Class 4 – District 11 Champion
Head Coach: Renee Temple 2015-16 Record: 11-15
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Glendale won its district title thanks to a half-court buzzer-beating shot to force a second overtime in the district championship game. • The team graduated four seniors from last year— guards Zach Helm and Tristan Baker and forwards Will Sachs and Seth Flattery. • The Falcons have one of the top junior duos in the area with Monty Johal and Jordan Walton. Johal scored 25 points per game last season. Walton was right there with him, averaging 15.8 points per game. • Both Johal and Walton have a shot to break the Glendale scoring record of 1,583 points. Johal sits at 1,055 points while Walton is at 855. • The Falcons are not a big team with their tallest player standing at 6’3”. • Senior Josh Call and junior Garrett Freeman return to the team. • Newcomers to the team include juniors Jaxon Davis, Dylan Metiver, Adam Hirsch and Tyler Johnson, and sophomore Winston Quinn. • Glendale moves up to Class 5 this year and jumps into one of the toughest districts in Southwest Missouri. The Falcons’ district includes Branson, Kickapoo, Ozark and Parkview.
• Glendale lost five seniors off last season’s team which fell 60-32 to Hillcrest in the opening round of district play. The Lady Falcons finished 2-7 in the Ozark Conference. • Coach Renee Temple enters her 12th season as head coach of the Glendale girls. • Senior captain Kait Baird is the lone senior for Glendale. She is a versatile 6-foot guard/forward. • Gabby Mathews also returns to the frontcourt. She averaged 7.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. • In the backcourt, Glendale brings back sophomore Hannah Pinkston and junior Anna Fredrick, who averaged 5.3 points last year. • Sophomore guards Abbey Hirsch and Jacey Noble will be new to the varsity rotation. There could be several freshmen that factor into the Falcons varsity team as well. • Glendale steps up to Class 5 this year from Class 4. Their district includes some of the state’s top Class 5 teams, including defending Class 5 champion Kickapoo.
Coach Brian McTague on Johal and Walton: “Monty and Jordan are both very skilled. Monty is one of the top offensive players in the state and will be a difference maker on defense this year, as well. Jordan can score from anywhere on the court. He gets better every year.”
Coach Renee Temple on expectations for this year’s team: “This team is dedicated to getting better every day, and they have been working hard to get that done. With strong guard play, good size inside and solid leadership, we have high expectations for this season.”
12/13 vs. Nixa
11/21 @ Willard
1/5-7 @ Joplin Tournament
12/20 @ Waynesville (First conference game)
1/10 vs. Camdenton (First conference game)
12/27-30 @ Pink & White Tournament
2/7 vs. Kickapoo
2/6 @ Kickapoo
2/21 vs. Central (Senior Night)
2/16 vs. Rolla (Senior Night)
Head Coach: Joel Brown 2015-16 Record: 9-18
2015-16 Record: 16-12 – Class 4 – District 11 Champion
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Joel Brown enters his second season as Hillcrest’s head coach and has a wealth of experience back. Hillcrest returns all five starters and 10 lettermen. • Among the returning starters for the Hornets are seniors Shahn Clark and Hezekiah Duke, two players who Brown believes could have big years. “Shahn is a very talented player who is looking to have a breakout senior year,” Brown said. “Hezekiah is a good outside shooter who has really developed his athleticism and physicality over the offseason, which should help him this year.” • Other returning starters include juniors Cole Pryor and Tim Washington and sophomore Tyem Freeman. • Hillcrest brings back seniors Sam Terry and Brant Schaffitzel. The Hornets also welcome back juniors Josh Powell and Jaydon Sydnor. • In addition to its 10 returners, the Hornets also have three newcomers: juniors Malik Starks and Savion Hill and sophomore Brennan Williams. • Hillcrest’s district has been overhauled with last year’s district finalists Glendale and Aurora moving out and Bolivar and Marshfield moving in. Rogersville, Reeds Spring and West Plains remain.
• Jeni Hopkins retired as head coach after last season. She had a record of 332-206. Hillcrest graduate and former Miller head coach Justin Gerald takes over as Lady Hornets’ coach this season. • The Lady Hornets won the Class 4-District 11 championship with a 54-40 victory over Rogersville. • Hillcrest loses four starters from that team. Graduated players include Kaycee Gerald, Laurnea Jarman, Mikayla McCullough and Jordan Pryor. Gerald earned all-state honors. • Speedy junior Whitney Williams and sophomore Sarah Hale lead the returning players for Hillcrest. Williams was a state qualifier in the 100 meter dash on the track. Hale will run the point in her second season. • Four newcomers will be relied on heavily this season for the Lady Hornets: seniors Kaitlyn Maxwell and Chia Brooks and sophomores Makenzie Kendrick and Kelly Tran. • Hillcrest was looking forward to having Jasmyn Johnson back this year, but she recently tore her ACL and will miss the entire season.
Coach Joel Brown on what is team learned from last year: “Saying last year was a struggle would be an understatement. It was a tough year for everyone. One of the positives that we can take away from last year is the way we finished the season. We were playing our best basketball at the end of the year, and as a coach, that is always one of my goals. We used that as momentum in the offseason to get better for this season.”
Coach Justin Gerald on his philosophy for this team: “Our team motto this year will be, ‘There are no failures, only lessons’. Getting my players to understand that there is a process to becoming successful will be a main focus for our program in its early going. We also want our players to understand sometimes we don’t get the overall outcome we were looking for, but it doesn’t mean we’ve failed. As long as we can understand why we didn’t reach our overall outcome we were looking for, then we’ve learned something. As long as we’re learning, we are becoming successful.”
12/6 @ Bolivar
12/27-30 Pink & White Tournament
1/24 @ Glendale
1/9 vs. Kickapoo
Head Coach: Justin Gerald
1/26-28 @ Bolivar Tournament
1/16-20 @ Bolivar Tournament
2/14 vs. West Plains (Senior Night)
2/9 vs. Lebanon
2/21 @ Kickapoo
2/20 vs. Aurora (Senior Night)
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Head Coach: Jeffrey Hafer 2015-16 Record: 3-23
Head Coach: Jeff Williams 2015-16 Record: 2-24
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Joplin was plagued by injury last year and endured a 3-23 season under third-year coach Jeffrey Hafer. • The Eagles graduated three seniors, including Darrian Guillory, who is continuing his basketball career at Pittsburg State University in Kansas. Coach Hafer referred to Guillory as last year’s team’s MVP and leader. • Dineji Olaniyan, Malaki Love, Spencer Newell, Nate Cox, Koltyn Theilen and Logan Swadner will fill that leadership void as returning seniors. They’ll look to contribute as an experienced and capable group. • Three varsity newcomers in senior Tory Lewis, junior Braeden Testerman and junior Hagen Hoffman are poised to make an immediate impact at the varsity level. • Coach Hafer identifies a lack of size as a challenge for his team, and he plans to combat that with an up-tempo style of play: “We have small, quick athletes that are capable of playing fast, and that will be instrumental to our success this year.”
• The Joplin Lady Eagles won just two games last year, falling to Willard in the first round of the district tournament. • Joplin lost three players last season to what head coach Jeff Williams called “permanent injuries.” The silver lining with the injuries is that it allowed several young players to gain valuable experience for this season. • Two-year starter Kinsley Stewart and junior Jillian Lopez both return from injury after missing most of last season. • Look for senior Shelby Beaver to provide a quality presence in the paint. Beaver led the team in scoring (9.1 PPG) and rebounding (6.2 RPG) a season ago. • Andrielle Wilson, Sara Benson, Jada Reed and Madi Devore fill out the senior class, alongside Beaver and Stewart. • Joplin’s junior class includes Jessica Zengel, Mikayla Kuehnel and Diane Wagler. Look for them to provide valuable minutes and make an impact on the varsity in 2016-17.
Coach Hafer on bouncing back from a tough 201516 season: “Last year we were plagued by injury, which had an impact on our win-loss record. It did, however, offer an opportunity for many of our younger players to get varsity basketball experience, which really helped us grow even through this past offseason.”
Coach Williams on the key to his team’s success this season: “The success of this team will depend on if we can score enough to win games that we should. We played solid defense a year ago and held most opponents to 50 points or less. I can only guarantee that we will have a scrappy team and have tons of fun doing it.”
11/21 vs. McDonald County
11/29 @ Neosho
11/28-12/3 @ Carthage Tournament
12/19 @ Carl Junction
1/27 @ Rolla
2/2 vs. Lebanon
2/10 vs. Kickapoo (Senior Night)
2/9 @ Kickapoo
2/14 @ Glendale
2/16 vs. West Plains (Senior Night)
r u o y t r spo e colors tru
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Head Coach: Chris Pilz
Head Coach: Brittany Matlock
2015-16 Record: 15-13 – Class 5 – District 10 Champions
2015-16 Record: 19-8 – Class 5 – District 10 Champions
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• The Tigers have won district titles in two of the past three seasons, most recently beating Jeff City, 6156, in 2016 before falling to Blue Springs South in the Class 5 sectionals. • Waynesville head coach Chris Pilz is entering his sixth season at the helm for the Tigers. They must replace all five starters from last year’s squad, including point guard and floor general Joe Johnson. • 5’9” junior guard David Adams played as the sixth-man last year. He’s developed his game this off-season and he’s in line to play a vital role for the varsity. • Waynesville will have plenty of size to work with this season, as they have seven players listed at 6’3” or taller on the roster. • Senior guard Tavon Dipalma and sophomore forward Tajhe Stewart both return to the varsity group for Waynesville. Coach Pilz describes Dipalma as the team’s most improved player, and Stewart earned varsity minutes late last season after being moved up from the freshman team. • Waynesville will begin their season with the same three opponents as last year: they’ll open with Lebanon, then welcome in McCluer North and Hazelwood Central.
• The Lady Tigers won the Class 5 – District 10 tournament last year, beating Jeff City, 56-52, before falling to Hickman in the sectional round. • Waynesville will sorely miss star forward Kallie Bildner, who graduates as the program leader in both career points (2,050) and rebounds (1,172). She averaged 26 points, 14 rebounds per game, 1.7 steals and 1.1 blocks per game her senior season. • The Lady Tigers return three all-conference performers from last year in Nina Kizzee, Re’Shawna Stone and Kiara Shoulders. • TThe senior captain Kizzee will handle point-guard duties.” Also in the fourth bullet, delete the comma after backcourt. Stone will accompany Kizzee in the backcourt, while the forward Shoulders will provide a scoring presence in the paint for Waynesville. • Senior Ashton Pilz is another returning starter for the Lady Tigers. Head coach Brittany Matlock said of Pilz, “She will be taking on more of a leadership role this season along with additional responsibilities.” • Waynesville will host Class 5 state champ and Ozark Conference foe Kickapoo in their regular season finale on Feb. 23.
Coach Pilz on the 2016-17 season: “Waynesville has a rich basketball tradition. I believe I have the best job in the state. I drive up GW Lane excited to go to work every day. We have great kids, facilities, staff, faculty, administration, parents, and community support. Our kids and coaching staff together have invested time to keep our program at a state recognized level. The young men on the 2016-17 team have patiently waited for their opportunity to play varsity basketball. Our coaching staff is excited to see how the respond to the challenge.”
Coach Matlock on moving forward into 2016-17 without Bildner: “We aren’t going to replace her. Kallie is a great player. As we do every season, we will evaluate our strength and weakness and make adjustments as we go. Each player will have to adjust to their new role. As we get more comfortable with our new roles or additions, we will grow as a team.”
Coach Chris Pilz
12/2 vs. Lebanon
12/2 @ Columbia Rock Bridge
1/10 @ Jefferson City
1/12 @ Columbia Hickman
12/28-30 @ Rolla Tournament
1/19 @ Lebanon
2/14 vs. Parkview (Senior Night)
2/6 vs. Camdenton
2/17 @ Kickapoo
2/23 vs. Kickapoo (Senior Night)
Head Coach: Adam Thornhill 2015-16 Record: 6-20
Head Coach: Brendan Kelley 2015-16 Record: 18-8
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Lebanon finished 3-6 in the Ozark Conference in coach Adam Thornhill’s third season as head coach. • Five players have graduated, leaving playing time up for grabs this season. Among the graduates was shooting guard Trent Millsap, who was named first-team all-district. • Only two players return, but senior guard Jack Ehrhardt—a four-year varsity player—is one of them. Ehrhardt averaged 14.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game last year. He was named Honorable Mention All-Ozark Conference and first-team all-district. He’s scored 896 points in his career. • Another returner is junior Will Richardson, who averaged 5.8 points and 2.8 rebounds last season and gained valuable experience at the varsity level. • Lebanon will turn to eight new players this year. This group of newcomers includes seniors Junior Shockley and Clayton Richerson, juniors Jalen Jones and Terron Sizemore, sophomores Max Schooler, Dawson Zimdars and Cooper Hudson, and freshman Quenton Shelton.
• Lebanon has one of the area’s top returning players in senior and Mizzou commit Kelsey Winfrey. As a junior, she averaged 21.2 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.6 steals, and 3.4 assists in an all-state season for the Lady Jackets. • In addition to the Winfrey, the Lady Jackets bring back eight of their top 10 players from last season. • Senior Jaiden Offutt will be a solid option behind Winfrey in Lebanon’s pursuit of its high goals. Offutt averaged 8.5 points and 2.8 assists per game last season. • Other senior returners include 5’11” forward Maddie O’Connor, who played the guard position last year but will play in the paint this year, and 6-foot center Faith Alwardt, who sat out her junior season with a knee injury. • Lebanon will also need help from juniors Carsyn Bowman (5’8”), Alyssa Wright (5’8”), Grace Calhoun (5’4”) and Mel Myers (5’8”), as well as sophomores Kamryn Mack (5’7”) and Cori Johnson (5’10”). Freshman Jenna Glendenning (5’4”) should also fight for playing time.
Coach Adam Thornhill on senior Jack Ehrhardt: “Jack has been a huge part of our varsity team all four years. He is able to score from the outside but specializes in scoring off the bounce. We’ll look to him to provide leadership of our young team.”
Coach Brendan Kelley on senior Kelsey Winfrey: ““She’s the leader of our team, not just on the floor, but off as well. She’s the kind of athlete every coach wants to coach. She can get to the rim and knock down the outside shot and is almost automatic from the free-throw line. She outworks everyone on the defensive end of the floor and comes up with big plays in pressure situations.”
12/2 vs. Waynesville
11/22 vs. Strafford
12/26-29 @ Blue & Gold Tournament
11/29-12/3 @ Fair Grove Tournament
1/17 vs. Glendale
12/27-30 @ Pink & White Tournament
2/3 @ Kickapoo
1/5 @ Kickapoo
2/17 vs. Parkview (Senior Night)
2/23 vs. Springfield Central (Senior Night)
Head Coach: Landon Cornish 2015-16 Record: 11-15
Head Coach: Keri Nichols 2015-16 Record: 5-21
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Parkview finished fifth in the Ozark Conference in Landon Cornish’s first season at the helm of the Viking program. • The Vikings will miss the production of 6’6” Garrett Cunningham this year. He averaged 11.5 points and 8.2 rebounds per game as a senior. Camron Satterfield (8.5 points and 3.8 rebounds per game) and Jordan Bollenbach (5.6 points and 3.2 rebounds) will also be missed this season. • Senior JT Brown will spearhead the Parkview attack at point guard. He averaged 8.5 points, 1.9 assists and 1.3 steals per game as a junior. • Brady Hill and Njenga Chatman return for their senior seasons. Hill scored 8.5 points and pulled down 2.6 rebounds per game last year. Chatman chipped in 5.2 points per game. • Lencorya Grady will see an expanded role as a junior. He played just three varsity games last year, but scored 7.7 points per game in time on the varsity court. • Junior Demarcus Mason will factor into the varsity lineup after transferring from Central. Parkview has some size in rising sophomore Latre Morrison (6’8”). • As a program, Parkview is just five wins away from 1,000 wins. • Parkview will unveil an All-Decades team on Dec. 20 when the Vikings host Ozark. One player from each decade of Parkview basketball will be honored.
• Parkview averaged 38.3 points per game while giving up 54.2 points per game last season. • Three key players graduated for Parkview in Aaliyah Buckley, Bethany Harris and Kara Klein. • The Lady Vikings bring back their star guard Paiton Acord. Acord led the Lady Vikings in all major statistical categories as a freshman. She scored 11.8 points per game with 8.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.5 steals. • In addition to Acord, CJ Stiles and Kristen Klein logged big minutes for Parkview as freshmen last season. Stiles led the Lady Vikings with 1.4 blocks per game. • Nichols expects that more freshmen could see time this year after a strong summer from the incoming class. • Parkview will look to make a deeper run in the district tournament this year. Last season, the Lady Vikings won their opening round game over Central, but fell to eventual state champion Kickapoo in the district semifinals. • Class 5 – District 11 remains largely unchanged with Branson, Kickapoo and Ozark still in the district. The one change is Glendale has moved into the district while Central moved out.
Head Coach Landon Cornish on expectations for his team: “I want our team to be extremely competitive, play hard, be coachable, and represent ourselves with class. This year’s team is going to be talented and have an opportunity to win some big games. We have a long ways to go, but if we want to be considered one of the best teams in the area we need to be consistent game in and game out.”
Head Coach Keri Nichols on her expectations for this year’s team: “I think we should pick up where we left off last year. The learning curve should not be as big but we are still depending on freshman and sophomores to be impact players so we could be inconsistent at times.”
11/22 @ Rogers (Ark.) Heritage
12/5 vs. Nixa (Home Opener)
12/1-3 MBCA Hall of Fame Classic
12/7-10 @ Stephanie Phillips Classic
12/20 vs. Ozark (All-Decades Team)
12/27-30 @ Pink & White Tournament
12/26-29 @ Blue & Gold Tournament
1/19-21 @ Sedalia Tournament
2/23 vs. Glendale (Senior Night)
2/16 vs. Lebanon (Senior Night)
2015-16 Record: 24-3 – Class 4 – District 10 Runner-Up
Head Coach: Mark Miller
Head Coach: Luke Floyd 2015-16 Record: 6-19
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Rolla was 50-6 over the last two seasons. Much of that success lands at the feet of a quartet of graduated players led by Kobe Wands. Wands, a two-time all-state selection, averaged 19.7 points, six assists and 2.8 steals per game while knocking down 55 three-point shots last year. Also gone are Zach Brown, Sam Marshall and Logan Short. • The Bulldogs bring back 6’5” junior Nick Janke after he started all season as a sophomore. • Seniors Zac Burns and Brandon Cunningham, junior guard Josh Prichett and sophomores Alec Buhr and Blaize Klossner are the other five returning lettermen for Miller’s team. • In addition, juniors Jake Grooms and Aaron Cunningham, along with sophomore Coby Martin will be looked to in strong support roles this season. • Shooting has been strength for the Bulldogs in recent years and that won’t change this season. • Rolla moves from Class 4 – District 10 to District 11 this season, but the district number is about all that has changed. Eldon, Helias Catholic, Osage and Salem remain in the district. The one change is Marshfield leaving and Owensville joining the district.
• The Rolla girls lost four seniors from last season’s team including Meredith Sowers, Caroline Victor, Sabrina Morris and Amanda Dillon. Morris led the team in scoring and rebounding with 7.5 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. • The Lady Bulldogs will be young overall with just one returning senior starter in Addy Brow. She was second on the team in scoring with 7.2 PPG last year. She also pulled down 2.8 rebounds per game. • She is joined by fellow returning starters in junior Mattie Dean (2.3 PPG) and sophomore Olivia Holmes (4.5 PPG). • Senior Kelly Dupes (3.4 PPG), junior Allie Harmon (2.0 PPG) and sophomore Kendra Cameron (2.2 PPG) are the other returning varsity players. • In addition to the players listed above, Floyd expects several new faces to step up from the junior varsity and incoming class of freshmen. “We had a successful JV team last year that will have several players contribute on the varsity level this year,” said Floyd. “We also have a very good incoming freshmen class that will have several contributors are the varsity level.”
Head Coach Mark Miller’s on his team’s strengths: “Shooting will definitely be a strength along with a good work ethic on defense and the board. Every guy up and down the lineup has the ability to score and score big. It will be a fun group to coach and should be a fun group of guys to cheer for. Above all, we hope to play with great character that represents ourselves, family, school and community well.”
Head Coach Luke Floyd’s expectations for this season: “I am excited about the season. We are slowly building our program and have seen great improvements the first two seasons. I believe we are on the cusp of breaking through. I think a 12 to 15 win season with a top half finish in the Ozark Conference and competing for a district title would signify a great season for us.”
11/26-12/3 @ Republic Tournament
12/7-14 @ St. James Tournament
12/28-30 @ Rolla Holiday Tournament
12/8 vs. Waynesville (conference opener)
1/7-1/11 @ Lebanon Tournament
12/28-30 Rolla Holiday Tournament
2/14 vs. Kickapoo
1/19-21 @ Sedalia Tournament
2/23 vs. Waynesville (Senior Night)
2-20 vs. Lebanon (Senior Night)
Head Coach: Kevin Smith 2015-16 Record: 15-12
Head Coach: Scott Womack 2015-16 Record: 17-10
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• West Plains saw its season end last year with a 64-46 loss to Aurora in the Class 4—District 11 semifinals. • The Zizzers will have an almost entirely new cast after losing a talented senior class. Among those who graduated were Christian Robbins, Chase Riley, Zak Adkisson and Gerard Dietrich. • Four players do return to the Zizzers to this season: seniors Dalton Ross and Justin Nichols and juniors Mitchell Mahan and Landry Randolph. • Senior newcomer John Mulford will be an excellent addition to the team as he will provide athleticism and a knack for being able to get to the rim. Also new to the team are Jay Talton, Austin Wood, Camdon Murphy, Mason Nelson, Clay Butler, Garel Mcinley and Garrett Warren. • West Plains will be a bit undersized, so the Zizzers will look to push pace on offense. • The district will feature a couple new teams this year. Hillcrest, Reeds Spring and Rogersville return to the field. Bolivar and Marshfield move into the district, replacing Aurora and Glendale.
• Top-seed West Plains had its district run cut short with a 71-57 loss to Ozark Conference-rival Hillcrest in the semifinals last season. • Coach Scott Womack, entering his 26th season at the helm of the Lady Zizzers, has a lot of talent back, led by seniors Payton Richards and Elle Williams. • Richards, a future Drury Lady Panther, led the team in scoring (15.3 PPG), assists (3.9 APG) and steals (2.7 SPG). • Williams, a 5’10” forward, finished second in scoring (13.5 PPG) and led the team in rebounding (7.0 RPG) for the second-straight year. • Juniors Kendra Davidson (7.3 PPG, 3.5 RPG) and Lily Harris (5.2 PPG, 4.6 RPG) not only found spots in the starting lineup as sophomores but took on major roles. • Womack will also have the services of senior guard Abee Shelton and junior post Kasey Bonham, who returns to the team after a one-year hiatus. Sophomore forward Hailey Meeks should also find minutes in the rotation.
Coach Kevin Smith on his team’s strengths: “Our guard play will be a strength for us. This team will be a much smaller team, and we will have to change some things we do toward our personnel, but I think we have a team that will be fast and that will be aggressive in the open floor. They will be fun to watch for our fans.”
Womack on the motivation provided by the district loss: “Last year has left a bad taste in our mouth, and I believe they really want to redeem themselves. After being state-ranked all season, seeded No. 1 in the district and previously beating Hillcrest by double figures, it was hard to call the season a success even though we still won 17 games. Payton and Elle have been contributors every year, and have been all-conference and all-district players the past two years, but they still have not won a district championship, so I think it is definitely a goal of theirs to have a great senior season.”
11/28-12/3 @ Forsyth Tournament
1/5 @ Branson
1/3 vs. Kickapoo
1/16 @ Kickapoo
1/25-28 @ Bolivar Tournament
2/6 @ Lebanon
1/31 vs. Glendale
2/13 vs. Hillcrest
2/23 vs. Central (Senior Night)
2/21 vs. Parkview (Senior Night)
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Head Coach: Kirk Hanson 2015-16 Record: 17-11
Head Coach: Kip Bough 2015-16 Record: 22-5
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Branson ran through the COC Large with a 6-1 record to win the conference title. The Pirates ended their season with a 65-47 loss to Ozark in the district semifinals. • Gone from last year are key contributors Colby Sutton, Montana Myer, Seth Wood, and Christian Powell. Sutton is running track at Southwest Baptist. Wood is playing basketball at Central College in Iowa. Powell is playing basketball at Webster University. • Kirk Hanson returns as Branson’s coach. His career record is 778-530, so a strong season could see him win his 800th career game. • Branson will rely heavily on returning starter and senior Nick Dapprich, who averaged 12 points and 4.1 rebounds per game last year. • Six newcomers will see significant varsity action this season and will be counted on to make an impact. These players include 6’1” forward Brandt Morrow, 6-foot guard Hunter Weber, 6’3” forward Zach Johnston, 6-foot guard Cameron Banks, 5’9” guard Jacob Banks and 6-foot guard Colin Pepper. • Branson’s district remains mostly intact with Parkview, Ozark and Kickapoo back. The big change is Glendale moving up from Class 4 and into the district. Central moved out of the district.
• Branson loses First Team All-Conference and All-District selection Ashley Forrest, who scored over 1,300 points in her career and was an excellent outside shooter. • All four other starters return to the Lady Pirates. Senior Amanda Kearney is at the head of those returning players. Last season, Kearney broke the school’s single-game scoring record (42), most free throws in a game (17), and the single-season scoring record (615). • Fellow senior Terra Utz-Depriest is a three-year starter and was named Second Team All-Conference last year after averaging 10 points and six rebounds and shooting 62 percent from the field. • Juniors Lauren Garrison and Gracie Jaeger both are returning starters in the Lady Pirates’ backcourt. Both players have started since their freshman years. Jaeger was named to the COC All-Defensive Team last year. • Other returners include seniors Emily Ogden and Tori O’Dell and junior Madison Scrivner. • Five newcomers will be factors including senior Sara Moug, juniors Britton Ellis, Isabel Holloway, and Audrey Arnette, and sophomores Karis Goodwin and Danielle Williams, who moved in over the summer from Iowa City, Iowa.
Coach Kirk Hanson on his expectations for his players: “I hope the players who are returning realize that we were successful last year because we had a great group of character players. We had players who realized that the only way we were going to be good was to play together.”
Coach Kip Bough on the loss of Ashley Forrest: “She was not only a big-time scorer for us but she always keyed the fast break with her ability to rebound, dribble out, and pass ahead to a running teammate. She had the ability to stretch a defense with her three-point shooting and driving ability. Her leadership will also be missed.”
12/13 @ Kickapoo
11/21 vs. Central (First Game)
1/13 @ Carl Junction (First COC Large game)
1/6 vs. West Plains
1/20 @ Glendale
1/12 @ Carl Junction (First COC Large game)
1/31 vs. Nixa
1/16-21 @ Bolivar Tournament
2/21 vs. Willard (Senior Night)
2/20 vs. Willard (Senior Night)
commitment to Community
417-239-1166 East On 76 Across From Holiday Hills
225 Cross Creek Center Suite 1 | Branson, MO 65616
Head Coach: Steve Ray 2015-16 Record: 11-16
2015-16 Record: 15-10 – Class 4 – District 12 Runner-up
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Carthage made it to the Class 4, District 12 semifinals last season where it lost to Webb City. The Tigers will miss graduate Alex Derryberry, who led the team in nearly every statistical category his senior year (16.2 PPG, 4.5 APG, 2.4 SPG and 1.5 3PG). • Carthage bumps up from a Class 4 to a Class 5 program in 2016-17. • The Tigers return a pair of junior guards in Chase Johnson and Arkell Smith, who were the secondand third-leading scorers behind Derryberry last season. • Senior guard Taylor Emery will accompany Johnson and Smith in the backcourt. The three returning full-time starters should be a team strength this season. • Senior Garrett McAtee, a 6’4” forward, is one of the tallest players on the roster. He missed nine games last year with knee injuries but still managed to lead the team in rebounds per game. Carthage is optimistic that McAtee will be ready to go to start the season. • Look for Keith Guest, Cooper Allmoslecher and Brett Fullerton to fill bigger roles this season.
• After two sub-.500 seasons, the Lady Tigers enjoyed a 15-10 record last year, culminating with a trip to the district title game where they fell to Carl Junction 50-38. • Maya Williams will leave a void after graduating last spring. She was the program’s best player last year and is continuing her career at Pittsburg State University in Kansas. • Seniors Kenya Medlock and Kensey Sageser return to the starting lineup after productive seasons last year. Medlock averaged 13.4 points per game and 3.6 rebounds per game and Sageser averaged 6.5 points per game and 6.2 rebounds per game last season. • With no juniors on the roster, Carthage will look to their underclassmen to step up to the varsity level. Kali Godfrey and Jaxsyn Anderson are in line to make big contributions to the varsity as sophomores. • 2015-16 marks coach Chad Jones’ third season at the helm for Carthage.
Coach Steve Ray on the season outlook: “There are a lot of unknowns with the group as a whole. We return three full-time starters in Chase Johnson, Arkell Smith and Taylor Emery. Those three pieces are good building blocks to our season. However, the ultimate success or failure of this team will likely be the production and play of our other varsity players on both ends of the floor. We will need to be disruptive on the defensive end of the floor to neutralize our lack of size. Offensively, we will need to execute more consistently and find ways to score against the best teams of our schedules.”
Coach Chad Jones on the necessity of using his group of young players this season: “Our program is in the midst of a youth movement. We lost four seniors that did an amazing job of changing the culture within our ranks. Our two seniors have done a nice job stepping into their leadership roles in the off season and it showed in the strides our sophomores made during that time. Without any players in the class of 2018, there are a lot of open spots for playing time. The players in our 2019 class are athletic and have the potential to further develop an already solid skill base, as do the incoming 2020 freshman.”
11/28-12/3 Carthage Invitational 12/6 vs. Joplin 2/7 vs. Neosho 2/10 vs. Nixa 2/21 vs. Webb City (Senior Night)
11/22 @ Hillcrest 1/12 @ Republic 2/13 @ Carl Junction 2/17 @ Branson 2/20 vs. Webb City (Senior Night)
Head Coach: Chad Jones
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Carthage 104 George Phelps Blvd., 417-359-3359 CALL FOR STORE HOURS.
Head Coach: Tony Branscum 2015-16 Record: 9-18
Head Coach: Grant Berendt 2015-16 Record: 12-14
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Tony Branscum takes over as the Neosho head coach after Jason Horn left for the head job at Webb City. Branscum was an assistant on Horn’s staff. • Luke Werneke and Devin Hames will be missed from this year’s team. Werneke scored 8.8 points and had 4.4 rebounds per game in his senior season last year. Hames scored 7.8 points and led the team in rebounding with 5.7 rebounds per game. • A solid core of this year’s team will be made up of senior football players in Coleman Scott, Ethan Siler and Bryce Murphy. Scott scored 7.6 points with 5.4 assists and three rebounds per game as a junior. Siler poured in 7.9 points and had 2.4 rebounds per game. Murphy played in just nine games last year, but averaged 4.2 points and 2.9 rebounds in his time. • Senior Connor Johnson is the other key returning piece. The 5’9” guard averaged 9.8 points, two rebounds and 1.6 assists per game as a junior. • A trio of guards in Brady Wise (6’1”), Zach Jennings (5’11”) and Yeej Lee (5’7”) will step into bigger roles this season. Luke Kibler will be a focal point in the paint as a junior. • Senior Bryan Banks joins Neosho after transferring in from Enid, Okla.
• Neosho was bit by the injury bug before the season started with star Caitlyn Jordan tearing her ACL in late September. Jordan, the lone all-conference selection for the Lady Wildcats a year ago, averaged a team-high 12 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. • Replacing that production will start with senior Sydney Linny and junior Makayla Hayes. Linny scored 8.7 points per game last year. Hayes was just behind with 8.5 points per game. She also tied for the team lead in assists and was second in steals and rebounding to Jordan. • Junior Allison Burr is also back after scoring 229 points as a sophomore. She tallied 42 steals as well. • Other returning players who will have an impact include senior Makenzie Lindsay, juniors Ashley Talley, Tori Frazier and Emilee Anderson, and sophomore Madi Flynn. • As a team, Neosho shot 45-percent from the field and 26-percent from three last season. Expect those numbers to improve this season with the maturation of the team. • Neosho is in the always tough Class 5 – District 12 featuring Joplin, Nixa and Republic along with newcomer Carthage this year. Willard moved out from this district.
Head Coach Tony Branscum on his expectations for this year’s team: “My expectations for this year are that we compete every night and play at a high level consistently. We can do that by committing to our defensive goals and valuing the ball on offense. Sound decision making by our guards will be key in having success. Finishing defensive possessions with rebounds will be huge as well. Murphy, Siler, and Kibler must rebound at a high rate this season for us to win.”
Head Coach Grant Berendt’s thoughts on this year’s team: “Our team is up and coming. Four of our juniors now played varsity as freshman and four started as sophomores with three more sophomores coming off the bench in support roles. We have quite a bit of varsity experience now just trying to put it all together.”
11/22 vs. Aurora
11/21 vs. Seneca
11/28-12/3 @ Carthage Tournament
12/8-10 @ Joplin Tournament
12/17-30 Neosho Holiday Tournament
12/28-30 Neosho Holiday Tournament
1/10 @ Webb City (Conference Opener)
1/9 @ Webb City (Conference Opener)
2/23 vs. Nixa (Senior Night)
2/20 vs. Carl Junction (Senior Night)
Head Coach: Jay Osborne
Head Coach: Jennifer Perryman
2015-16 Record: 23-6 – Class 5–District 12 Champion
2015-16 Record: 15-12 – Class 5 – District 12 Runner-Up
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Nixa’s run of dominance continued with a third consecutive district title last season. The Eagles fell to eventual Class 5 runner-up Kickapoo in the sectional round. • Four key players graduated from last year, including Chase Allen, the defending Central Ozark Conference Player of the Year and a two-time all-state selection. In addition, Nixa lost guards Preston Flood and Parker Dent, as well as forward Garrett Bacon. • The Eagles will be reloading with a senior quartet led by the big duo of Christian Bundy (6’5” forward) and Austin Bracker (6’4” forward). Bundy averaged eight points and 3.9 rebounds per game as a junior. Bracker added in 4.5 points and three rebounds per game last year. • Fellow seniors Seth Viebrock (5’9” guard) and Evan Bergmann (5’10” guard) will key things from the guard positions. Viebrock, who was Second Team AllCOC Large, averaged 11.2 points, 4.4 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game last year. Bergmann averaged 5.4 points per game. • Junior Nathan Elmer (5’10”) and sophomore Braeden Combs (6’0”) will both see an increased role this season after coming off the bench for the Eagles last year. • In addition, juniors Max Bilbrey (6’7”), Jack Sanders (6’0”) and Joseph Weatherly (5’11”) will all be key bench players for Osborne after playing on JV last year.
• Nixa loses just two seniors from last year’s district runner-up squad, but one of them was star point guard Shelby Ewing. Kayla Goss was also a key guard for the Lady Eagles last year. • Nixa started slowly with a 3-7 record last year, but the Lady Eagles figured it out down the stretch, winning 12 of their final 16 games before falling in the district championship. • The Lady Eagles return one of the area’s top sophomore duos in Kelsey Biro and Taylor Arnold. Biro is the team’s returning leading scorer (11.2 PPG, 3.4 APG). Arnold (9.6 PPG, 4.2 RPG) is second to Biro in points scored amongst returners and was one of the team’s most versatile defenders last year. • Seniors Paige Wells (9.2 PPG, 4.4 RPG) and Lakyn Wools (4.5 PPG, 3.6 RPG) provide experience and intangibles. • Junior 6-foot forwards Bissett Michaelson (6.2 PPG, 7.1 RPG) and Halley Wiggins (4.2 PPG, 8.3 RPG) add length and athleticism to the frontline. • Sophomore Lakin Copeland and freshman Emily Edwards will look to step in and handle point guard duties. • Nixa’s district remains largely unchanged from last year with Joplin, Neosho and Republic back and Carthage moving in to replace Willard.
Head Coach Jay Osborne’s on this year’s expectations: “Expectations are very high. We have quality players returning. We have experienced guards, size, physical players and good shooters. We’ll be seeking another great season.”
Head Coach Jennifer Perryman’s thoughts on the COCLarge: “I feel like this year might be the most balanced the COC has been in a while, and, each night of play, every team will have to bring their best game to come out a winner. I feel that last year’s experience for our young kids will really help when it comes to conference play.”
12/13 @ Glendale
12/8-10 @ Stephanie Phillips Classic (Kickapoo)
1/6 @ Lee’s Summit
12/15 vs. Kickapoo (defending Class 5 champion)
1/7 @ Blue Springs South
2/2 vs. Ozark
1/20 vs. Kickapoo
2/13 vs. Republic
2/3 vs. Ozark
2/16 vs. Webb City (Senior Night)
2015-16 Record: 19-9 – Class 5 – District 11 Runner-up
Head Coach: Mark Schweitzer
Head Coach: David Brewer 2015-16 Record: 13-12
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Ozark made a run to the district championship last season before falling to eventual Class 5 runner-up Kickapoo, 68-59. • Four starters and a key bench player are gone from that team. Graduated seniors include Kyland Hewett-Newbill, Riley Simmons, Clayton Engel, Peyton Osborn and Collin Bottoms. • Junior guard Curt Gracey is also likely out for the season after breaking his leg during football season. • Quinn Nelson was one of the area’s top reserve players last year. This year, the junior will be called upon in the starting lineup. He averaged 9.7 points coming off the bench last season. • Parker Hanks scored more than 20 points per game on junior varsity last year and will step into the varsity lineup in his junior season. • Other newcomers to the varsity squad this year include seniors Garrett Reinke, Carter Burgess and Noah Suiter, and juniors Will Pickering and Payton Nichols. • Ozark’s district was already tough with Branson, Kickapoo and Parkview, but it got even more difficult this season. Glendale, which won a Class 4 district title a season ago, moves up to Class 5 this year and replaces Central as the district’s fifth team.
• Ozark returns seven key players, including five seniors, from last season’s 13-12 team that fell in the district semifinals to Branson. • Makensi Taylor and Ally Lollis were the key graduation losses for the Lady Tigers. • Senior Mikayla Putt, a second-team all-conference pick, leads the list of returners for Ozark after averaging 9.5 points and 4.7 rebounds per game as a junior. • Seniors Bre Johnson and Cassie Hinkley will help provide some stability in the backcourt for the Lady Tigers. Johnson averaged 6.1 points per game last season. Inside, the Lady Tigers will lean on the play of Morgan Doyle and Kaylan Smith. • Junior Macy Putt (Mikayla’s sister) was a second team all-conference selection in 2015-16 after averaging 7.6 points and 4.5 rebounds. • Another key returner is sophomore Jadyn Easley, who was named to the all-conference defensive team as a freshman. • If the Lady Tigers are to resume their old form, they’ll also need key contributions from a group of seven newcomers that includes senior Abbe Sutterfield, juniors Addy Lasley, Abby Braden, Tara McCormack and Tanner Covington, sophomore Annie Scheer, and freshman Madi Braden.
Coach Mark Schweitzer on his expectations: “We should be a very competitive team that doesn’t have a lot of height and will need to find a way to compete against bigger competition. Whatever the combination we have on the floor, they will be able to shoot the ball and find the open man. They’ll need to play tough defense. As a group, these kids are used to winning ball games, and I fully expect them to not let our lack in size be an excuse as they find a way to make the jump to the varsity level.”
Coach David Brewer on his expectations for this year’s team: “We have a good deal returning from a year ago, and we get to add some talented newcomers. The potential is there for this team. I’m excited to see how it all comes together during the season.”
Coach Mark Schweitzer
11/28-12-3 @ Republic Tournament
1/3 vs. Rock Bridge
12/16 vs. Kickapoo
1/24 vs. Kickapoo
1/19 @ Glendale
2/2 @ Nixa
2/3 @ Nixa
2/9 vs. Carl Junction
2/23 vs. Bolivar (Senior Night)
2/13 vs. Branson (Senior Night)
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Head Coach: Trevyor Fisher
Head Coach: Kris Flood
2015-16 Record: 21-7 – Class 5 – District 12 Runner-up
2015-16 Record: 25-2 – Class 5 – District 12 Champion
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Republic loses only two seniors from last season’s district runner-up team that fell to Nixa, 64-41. Tristan Ollar, who averaged 13.5 points per game, is one of those key senior losses. Reserve Tyler Phillips also graduated. • Seniors Treydon Rackley and Ty Stevens are at the head of the returning players. Rackley scored 12.7 points per game as a junior. He also led the team in rebounds (6.2 RPG) and steals (1.4 SPG). Stevens has started since his sophomore season and will run the point. He averaged 7.8 points and 3.1 assists per game last year. • Mitch Coiner enters his third season of varsity basketball after starting as a junior and averaging 8.5 points per game. Cameron Doke is a 6’3” post player that is also back after starting 27 games last season, averaging 5.3 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. • Caleb Singley, Devon Ward, Hunter Creek, Dylan Brown and Broc Smith will all see expanded roles this season. • One of the highlights of Republic’s season will be playing against some of the best players in the nation in the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions Jan. 12-14.
• Republic finished last season with two losses. Both came against teams that would win state titles. The Lady Tigers fell to eventual Class 2 Champion Crane in the Pink & White Tournament and then saw their season end with an 81-65 loss to eventual Class 5 Champion Kickapoo in the sectional round. • Gone from that team is a group of seven seniors who won 101 games in their four seasons. Allstate selection Brooke Stanfield was the key player last year after averaging 16 points, five rebounds and two blocks per game. The other seniors Republic lost are Jordan Kabetske, Alexis Ladwig, Logan Flood, Brylee Argo, Jade Sawyer and Carly Bayans. • Even with the great loss of experience, Flood brings back a group of five seniors who will lead the team, including Taylor Fergen (5’5” guard), Allyson Barrett (5’8” guard/forward), Madison Beckham (5’9” forward), Madison Appleberry (5’5” guard) and Natalie Bennett (5’5” guard). • Republic will rely on some junior varsity players to step up to help fill out the varsity rotation as well. Megan Branstetter (5’5” guard), Brylee Manes (5’8” guard/forward), Morgan Mcguire (5’7” guard/forward), Tatum Carter (5’5” guard) and Hallie Bartelsmeyer (5’6” guard) are all candidates to see varsity minutes.
Coach Trevyor Fisher on his expectations for his team: “We like to set our expectations high coming off a great season last year of 21-7 and winning some games probably not a lot of people thought we could. We thought we had a pretty good summer as well. We are going to always have our expectations high in our program. I think our kids expect to win any given night they go out there on the floor, but at the same time we know it is not going to be easy.”
Coach Kris Flood’s expectations for this year’s team: ““Expectations are always high at Republic, but we believe the kids have adjusted to it. We have another tough schedule that we believe prepares us for the time when conference and post season rolls around. Our style of play might change as far as how we play due to our personnel that we have this year but we had time this summer to work on it and the kids seemed to adjust well.”
1/12-14 @ Bass Pro Tournament of Champions
11/21 @ Lee’s Summit West
1/27 @ Father Tolton Catholic
12/19 @ Kickapoo
1/6 @ Bolivar
12/27-30 @ Pink & White Tournament
2/14 @ Nixa
1/9 vs. Carl Junction
2/23 vs. Carthage (Senior Night)
2/13 @ Nixa
2015-16 Record: 21-7 – Class 4—District 12 Champion
Head Coach: Jason Horn
Head Coach Lance Robbins 2015-16 Record: 11-15
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Webb City has a new head coach for the second time in as many years. Jeff Guiot left to be the coach at Greene County Tech, which opened the door for Jason Horn to move over from Neosho. • The Cardinals won the Class 4—District 12 title game, 58-42, over Monett. • Four starters and six seniors are gone from that team, including Kaden Roy, Zach Davidson, Tyson Roderique, Tate Smith, Preston Ellis and O.B. King. • Senior guard Trey Gibson will lead the returning players after averaging 6.4 points per game last season. • Horn has a strong junior class including Alex Pickett, Grant Ellis, Colton Carpenter, Javis Berlin and Kyle Nichols. • Sophomore Alex Gaskill and freshman Terrell Kabala are two underclassmen who could see significant varsity time. • The district remains largely unchanged with Carl Junction, Cassville, McDonald County and Monett all returning. Aurora moves into the district to take the place of Carthage, which moved up to Class 5.
• Webb City won its first district game over Monett, 48-13, before falling to eventual district runner-up Carthage, 52-45, in the semifinals. • The Lady Cardinals have a large group of seniors to replace, including Kaylee Beres, Lindey Kneib, Lexey Kneib and Katy Crane. • The Lady Cardinals return a pair of starters in juniors Cami Roy and Addie Darby. Shorter will look to both for leadership and scoring - Darby from the perimeter and Roy slashing into the lane. • Webb City’s impact newcomers include a talented group of four juniors and three sophomores. Robbins’ junior class includes match-up nightmare Hannah Woodcock, lock-down defender Kaylee Cristy, anchor in the middle Amy Morris and the athletic Sydney Dixon. The trio of sophomores includes three-point shooter Madeline Hayes, post player Abby Brownfield and guard Ali VanZant. • Carthage leaves the district to be replaced by Aurora, which brings with it one of the area’s best players in Emily Parker. Carl Junction, Cassville, McDonald County and Monett all return to the district lineup.
Coach Jason Horn on this year’s expectations: “I think the expectations are much higher coming into Webb City, but my approach will remain the same. I think the kids we have are a perfect fit for my style of play. We have a very athletic group that will be able to fast offensively and pressure the basketball defensively.”
Coach Lance Robbins on the lessons his team learned last year: “We finished 11-15 on the season and feel like we underachieved a little bit. We had several girls that gained valuable playing experience and believe it will be a benefit to us this season.”
2016 Class 4-District 12 Champions
1/17 @ McDonald County
11/22 vs. East Newton
1/24 @ Aurora
12/8 vs. Fair Grove
2/3 vs. Republic
12/15 vs. Skyline
2/7 vs. Monett
1/24 @ McDonald County
2/17 @ Nixa
1/30 @ Carl Junction
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6/28/16 8:40 PM
Head Coach: Lamont Frazier 2015-16 Record: 8-17
Head Coach: J.J. Adamson 2015-16 Record: 4-19
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Willard returns a group of 14 upperclassmen after not graduating a single player from the 2015-16 season. • Look for 6’5”, 220-pound senior Houston Johnson to provide a physical presence down low for the Tigers. Johnson missed most of 2015-16 with an injury. • Junior Ethan Burson, nearly as big as Johnson— standing at 6’4”, 220 pounds—also missed last season due to an injury. The two upperclassmen are in line to provide quality size and strength in the post. • Juniors Kenny Chambers (14.9 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 2.4 SPG), Kobe Holloman (8.0 PPG) and Springfield Central-transfer Quinton Batson each enter the season with valuable varsity experience. • Sam Bird, Jarett Fickbohm, Stone Jackson, Carter Anderson and Caiden Dalton round-out Willard’s group of senior contributors this season. • Sophomore Riley Young provided quality varsity minutes last year as a freshman and is in line to vie for time once again this season at the guard position.
• Head coach J.J. Adamson enters his second season at the helm for the Lady Tigers’ program after going just 4-19 a season ago. • Willard graduated two players in Hannah Parker and Presleigh Doke from last season. • The Lady Tigers will welcome in Aurora transfer point guard Larissa Pyle, who was a First-Team All-Big 8 selection with the Lady Houn’ Dawgs after surpassing 1,000-career points last year. Coach Adamson describes Pyle as an attacking guard who can score multiple ways. • Willard’s other five seniors include Breanna Bates, Kelsie Carroll, Madi Bradley and Kennedy Burch. • Junior Joran Stout-Mitchell returns as a starter from last season, averaging 13.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per game as a sophomore. Stout-Mitchell, and fellow junior Brooklyn Wade, will play in the backcourt and look to have a tremendous season. • Sophomores Nona Adamson, Hannah Bird, Lizzie Drennan and Josie Sanders will look to contribute at the varsity level.
Coach Lamont Frazier on the 2016-17 season outlook: “This season with the Willard Tigers should be one of great interest. With a host of returners and several key additions, the depth of this team could prove to be beneficial against some tough competition. More than just players, a key factor in the success of this year’s team will be their ability to stay healthy. This group has the potential to be fun to watch and fun to coach.”
Coach Adamson on improving upon last season: “In terms of wins and losses, last season had its share of challenges. However, the growth and development we experienced last season have cemented a foundation that we will continue to build this program on.”
12/1-12/3 Willard Tri-State Tournament
11/21 @ Glendale
12/13 vs. Hillcrest
1/13 vs. Lebanon
1/10 vs. Nixa
2/2 @ Carl Junction
2/10 vs. Neosho (Senior Night)
2/9 vs. Neosho (Senior Night)
2/17 @ Republic
2/20 @ Branson
Head Coach: Robby Hoegh
Head Coach: Darin Archer
2015-16 Record: 24-5 – Class 4 – District 13 Champion
2015-16 Record: 13-14 – Class 4–District 13 Champion
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Bolivar has to replace six graduated seniors in Johnny Scott, Bryce Krueger, John Michael Cates, Case Jones, Anthony McClellan and Keaton Larimore. That quartet combined for 52.2 percent of the scoring, 45.1 percent of the rebounding and 56.2 percent of the assists a year ago. • Brandon Emmert is the top returning player after earning all-state honors as a junior. The Central Missouri commit led Bolivar in points (17.5), rebounds (7.8) and blocks (1.4) as a junior. • In addition, Emmert has a chance to rewrite the Liberator record book. He is third on the all-time scoring list with 1,379 points, which is 570 away from all-time leader Preston Guiot. He is second on the all-time list in rebounding with 690, which is 185 away from alltime leader Scott Brakebill. • Conley Garrison is back to key things from the point a year after averaging 9.5 points and a team-high 4.3 assists per game. • Seniors Jack Pitts (6’5”), Hunter Jones (6’3”) and Hayden Lewright (6’3”) will help add some size to the Bolivar rotation. • Bolivar also has a strong junior class with Corey Spindler (6’3”), Kyler Murphy (5’11”), Mason Payne (6’4”) and Deacon Banner (5’10”). Sophomore Ian Jones (6-foot) will see some time at point guard to help Garrison play off the ball for stretches.
• The Lady Liberators have several holes to fill left by a talented group of seniors who brought 71 percent of last season’s scoring in Kaylie Rothdiener, Melah Francka, Aleena Derossett and Macy Hall. • Junior Michelle Gabani will be looked to for even more production after averaging 12.2 points and 10.6 rebounds per game as a sophomore. Gabani also averaged 2.6 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.1 blocks per game. • The only other returning player for the Lady Liberators who averaged more than a point per game is junior Reaghan Lesh. She averaged three points per game as a part time starter during her sophomore season. • Three seniors in Megan Spear, Kelsie Barber and Viktoria Kornbrek will all have expanded varsity roles. Taylor Dial is another junior that Coach Darin Archer sees a lot of potential in. • Junior Megan Campbell, along with sophomores Rheagan Hancock and Hannah Newcomb, will also look to factor into the varsity rotation. • Bolivar moves back into a Southwest Missouri district with Hillcrest, Rogersville, Reeds Spring and West Plains after one cycle with schools from the northwest.
Coach Robby Hoegh on his team’s philosophy: “Our players have a level of commitment to do what is necessary in order keep getting better. We constantly tell our kids that you can’t always control and get the outcome you want as far as winning and losing, but you can always work as hard as you can, enjoy your teammates and continually strive to maintain a great attitude, even in adversity.”
Coach Darin Archer on his young team’s expectations: “We are going to be relatively young and inexperienced. We will be a work in progress throughout the season, but I think as this group gains more experience, we will become a better team. Obviously, Michelle Gabani is a special talent, but we will be more than a one-horse show. We have strong leadership from our seniors and a talented, athletic group of underclassmen. It is going to be fun watching this team develop and grow as the season progresses.”
Coach Robby Hoegh
12/6 vs. Hillcrest
12/1-3 @ Branson Tournament
12/16 @ Helias Catholic
12/13 @ Lebanon
1/6 vs. Republic
12/27-30 @ Pink & White Tournament
1/26-28 82nd Liberator Tournament
1/5 @ Hollister (First COC Small game)
2/14 vs. Buffalo (Senior Night)
1/16-20 24th Annual Lady Liberator Tournament
Head Coach: Kyle Gawlowski 2015-16 Record: 1-23
2015-16 Record: 11-15 – Lost in District Semifinals
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Buffalo high school alumnus Kyle Gawlowski takes over the Bison program after serving as an assistant at Lebanon. • Noah Gentry leads a batch of five returning seniors. Gentry averaged 8.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game last year. • The other seniors joining Gentry include Ben Smith, James Smith, Travis Clemmons and Austin Starkey. • Hayden Miller is a returning 6’5” junior center who averaged 7.7 points and 4.8 rebounds per game last year. Juniors Kyle Cooley and Jared Gentry, along with sophomore guards Layton Moody and Haydon Gray, also return. • Buffalo has a solid group of sophomores who should see playing time this year in Levi Phillips, Graden Ragland, Bradley Hosiner and Wyatt Darnell. • Buffalo’s district remains largely unchanged with Ash Grove, Clever, Fair Grove, Springfield Catholic and Strafford all back in Class 3 – District 11. The new additions are Forsyth and Hollister, replacing Conway and Pleasant Hope.
• Now two years removed from a trip to the Class 3 Final Four, the Lady Bison must replace a program stalwart in Taylor Faulkner. Faulkner, now playing for Avila University, scored over 1,800 career points. She averaged 23.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 3.3 steals per game last year. • Haley Gilpin (8.9 points, 5.5 rebounds per game) also graduated and is now playing volleyball for Evangel. Buffalo also lost Carly Smith (1.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game). • Buffalo will lean on two returning starters in sophomore guards Courtney Austin and Emily Rice. Austin averaged 11.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.7 steals per game. Rice added 10.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and one steal per game. • Other returners for the Lady Bison include juniors Emma Wolf (6’1” center), Taryn Elia (5’5” guard) and Emilee Todd (5’4” guard) and sophomore Maddie Jacobs (5’6” guard). • Sophomores Lexi Jack (5’4 guard) and Allie Maddux (5’7” forward), along with freshmen Madison Andrews (5’7” forward), MaKayla Short (5’5” guard), Bethany Lancaster (5’9”) and Jalen Cody (5’4”), are some new faces expected to see playing time.
Coach Kyle Gawlowski on this year’s team: “I have been very happy with the number of players getting in the gym and the hard work we have put in throughout the summer and offseason. These guys want to get better and are proving it every time they step on the court. As long as we keep up this attitude and level of work, we are going to see good things start to happen.”
Coach Tom Stokes on this year’s team: “Our girls know they are going to have to contribute more [this year]. Graduation definitely has taken a toll on our program the last two years with us now losing all five starters off our  Final Four team. But the girls know the door of opportunity is wide open for some of them to step up and contribute.”
Coach Tom Stokes
11/22 @ Pleasant Hope
11/21 @ El Dorado Springs
11/28-12/3 Marionville Invitational
11/28-12/2 @ Fair Grove Tournament
12/26-29 Blue & Gold Tournament
12/27-30 @ Pink & White Tournament
1/23-28 Conway Tournament
1/16-21 @ Stockton Tournament
2/10 vs Catholic (Senior Night)
2/9 vs. Catholic (Senior Night)
Head Coach: Tom Stokes
Head Coach: Pete Leonard 2015-16 Record: 6-20
Head Coach: Willy Morgan 2015-16 Record: 10-16
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Pete Leonard takes over as the coach of Hollister after assisting last season. Prior to that, the Ava alum had a four-year career at College of the Ozarks. • Three starters and six lettermen return. Headlining the returners is athletic 6’4” junior Derek Morris, who averaged 13.4 points per game last season. Junior guard Landon Farquhar also returns after scoring nine points per game. • Sophomores Logan Armitage, Jesse Wright and Bryan Calovich also return. Calovich averaged 11 points per game last season as a freshman and should be more improved with a year of varsity experience now under his belt. • Newcomers to the team include senior Zach Crawford, juniors Jackson Bekemeier and Jenner Steele, and sophomores Cameron Shook and Logan Narvaez. All should contribute at the varsity level this season. • Hollister moves into one of the area’s toughest Class 3 districts. Only Forsyth remains in the Hollister district. Ash Grove, Buffalo, Fair Grove, Catholic and Strafford will make up the rest of the district.
• The Lady Tigers have four starters and seven lettermen back this season from last year’s 1-5 COC Small team. • Two seniors graduated from last year. Halie Allred, last year’s leading scorer at over 20 points per game, is now playing collegiately at Culver-Stockton (NAIA). Also gone is Darby Doughtery, a strong defensive player for the Lady Tigers. • Hollister will lean on the play of its returners. Senior Skyler Bruck should help fill the gap left by Dougherty, thanks to her excellent defensive skills. Bruck averaged 4.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. • Juniors Alexa Bekemeier and Raven Ross will help shoulder the scoring load after averaging 10.8 points and 9.1 points per game, respectively, last season. • Other key returners for the Lady Tigers are junior K.K. Thomas, as well as seniors Armonie Stephenson and Brooklynn Cronin. • Hollister brings in three newcomers who could pay dividends this season: sophomores Mallory Donovant and Mackie Green and junior Lacey Schwyhart. Forsyth move-in Maddy Frenzel also has a chance to provide minutes.
Coach Pete Leonard on the Hollister program: “I’m excited for the upcoming season. The team had a great summer working out and playing in shootouts. The boys have a great relationship with each other, and I believe they will play well as a team this season. Our game plan this season is a more controlled game where we try to force our opponents to make mistakes.”
Coach Willy Morgan’s expectations for this year’s team: “We want to compete every night. We want to be a factor in conference play and show our entire schedule how much we have improved.”
11/22 @ Spokane
11/22 vs. Ava
11/28-12/3 Forsyth Tournament
11/28-12/3 @ Blue Eye Tournament
12/13 @ Fair Grove
1/16-21 @ Galena Tournament
1/23-28 @ Conway Tournament
2/6 vs. Marshfield (Senior Night)
2/14 vs. Reeds Spring (Senior Night)
2/13 @ Rogersville
(Final Regular Season Game)
Head Coach: Damon Seiger 2015-16 Record: 15-11
Head Coach: Shelly Jones 2015-16 Record: 14-12
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Marshfield graduated three impact players from last year’s team in Wyatt Findley, Dallas Crider and Devin Letterman. Findley and Crider each earned all-conference and all-district selections in the backcourt last year. • The Jays will rely on seniors Jarrett Paoni and Britt Hill. Both return as full-time starters from last season’s 15-11 team. They lost to the 24-3 Rolla Bulldogs in the district semifinals. • Tristen Rouse and Bo Atkinson also return as seniors this year. Rouse provides good size and a paint presence, and Atkinson will transition from a post to a wing player. • Junior Chevy Koehler will look to take advantage of his 6’3” frame to produce scoring and rebounding for the Jays. • Triston Letterman, Austin Porter, Trenton Kanengieter and Jacob Vilines outline a promising group of sophomores who expect to play valuable minutes for Marshfield.
• The Marshfield Lady Jays have enjoyed seven-straight winning seasons, highlighted by a Class 4 Final Four appearance in 2013-14. • Marshfield lost five seniors from last season, including all-state standout Peyton Greenlee. The Lady Jays finished the year with a loss to Helias Catholic, 48-41, in the district semifinals. • Caitlin King and Savanna Vance are poised to play major roles as seniors for the Lady Jays this season, something head coach Shelly Jones expanded on: “Caitlin will be a catalyst on the defensive end of the floor and will play pivotal roles on the offensive side. Savanna is versatile and a mobile post with speed. She is also a great vocal leader for us on both ends of the floor.” • Coach Jones’ philosophy this season will be to concentrate on the defensive end of the floor, holding opponents to a low shooting percentage and using disciplined defense to generate offense.
Coach Damon Seiger on his players transitioning from JV to varsity this season: “I believe our overall health and ability to grow and mature as a basketball team will define who we are in late February, as it typically does most years. We will have to overcome our youth and inexperience at the varsity level to attain our desired goals but believe our young men have the ability to compete at a high level in spite of that.”
Coach Jones on the 2016-17 season outlook: “I am super excited to see how this team gels together and works as one unit. If we can stay healthy and keep a fire in our gut, we will be a contender for both the conference and district race.”
Coach Damon Seiger
Coach Shelly Jones
11/28-12/3 @ Strafford Tournament
11/22 vs. Camdenton
12/6 vs. Lebanon
11/28-12/3 @ Ash Grove Tournament
1/6 @ Strafford
1/2 vs. Skyline
1/12 vs. West Plains
2/2 @ Bolivar
2/21 vs. Rogersville (Senior Night)
2/20 vs. Reeds Spring (Senior Night)
Head Coach: Barry Yocom 2015-16 Record: 16-11
Head Coach: Lesley Reeves-Eakins 2015-16 Record: 2-23
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Reeds Spring graduated four key contributors from last year’s team, including Jared Cole and Adam Taylor. Cole led the team in scoring with 17 points per game and Taylor averaged 10 points and nine rebounds per game last season. • Despite the losses, the Wolves enter the 2016-17 season with a ton of experience, including three returning starters—Joel Gertson, Austin Bradfield and Lane Carroll—and seven total varsity lettermen. • Look for the senior Gertson to play point guard and provide production as a scorer and distributor. Gertson averaged just over 10 points and 5.1 assists per game last year. • Carroll will accompany Gertson in the backcourt, while the 6’3” Bradfield should provide the Wolves with a presence in the paint. • J.P. Gardner, Logen Plumb, Cole Nordin and Cole Crutcher each earned varsity letters last year and will see increased roles this season. • Sophomores Troy Froeschle, Robbie Huseman, Brittin Dover and Josh DeJarnette will vie for varsity minutes in 2016-17.
• The Lady Wolves haven’t enjoyed a winning season since 2011-12 and won just two games last year, prompting the move to bring in new head coach Lesley Reeves-Eakins. • Reeds Spring will return two starters from last season in senior Keri Johnson and sophomore Kalena Asbill. Johnson stands six-feet tall and averaged 7.7 points and 3.8 rebounds per game last season. Asbill tallied 4.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 1.2 assists per game last year as a freshman. Asbill should be the team’s predominant ball handler and point guard this season. • Nicole Longstreet, Jenny Essary and Abby Rudd are the other returning varsity lettermen from last season. “Nicole is a forward with a strong shot,” Reeves-Eakins said. “Jenny is a utility player that can do it all, and Abby has very strong athleticism and will be a ball handler and strong on the boards.” • Look for Shayla Stark, a move-in from Strafford, to make an impact as a senior contributor. Tara Sampson and Carley Eakins are also newcomers to the program this season.
Coach Barry Yocum on the season outlook: “We have a great outlook for the upcoming season with a lot of guys back with experience. We will continue to build our motto: ‘Every day guys challenging our players to take care of their responsibilities on and off the court and compete every day.”
Coach Lesley Reeves-Eakins on stepping in as the new head coach: “This season is all about getting to know each other and building a program. I think we will surprise some schools this year, but with only one senior returning, we will be very young. Every game will be a key matchup as we work hard to start our climb.”
11/28-12/3 @ Forsyth Tournament
11/28-12/3 @ Blue Eye Tournament
12/13 vs. Crane
12/20 vs. Crane
1/31 vs. Fair Grove
1/16-21 @ Galena Tournament
2/14 @ Hollister
2/13 @ Bolivar
2/21 vs. Bolivar (Senior Night)
2/23 vs. Monett (Senior Night)
Head Coach: Mitch McHenry 2015-16 Record: 9-15
2015-16 Record: 17-10 – Class 4 – District 11 Runner-up
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Last year was the first time in the last seven seasons that Rogersville endured a losing season (9-15). That prompted the move to welcome in first-year head coach Mitch McHenry. • The Wildcats graduated leading scorer Christian Brown (19.9 PPG) and their point guard, Marcus Gorman (5.3 APG), from last year’s team. • McHenry will get a chance to coach his younger brother, Matt McHenry, who is the leading returning scorer for Rogersville at 7.3 points per game. He also averaged 2.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists and a steal per game. • Drew Ritter will be in the backcourt alongside McHenry in their senior campaigns. • Sophomore forward Luke Vandersnick stands 6’5” and started last season as a freshman. He led the team with 18 blocks last year. He, alongside 6’3” brother Cole, should provide good size and toughness in the paint this season. • Junior guard Andrew Scott will vie for minutes in the backcourt with McHenry and Ritter. Scott played valuable varsity minutes last year and should have an increased role in 2015-16.
• For the first time in a decade, the Lady Wildcats won the COC-Small girls basketball title last season en route to a district championship game appearance, where they lost to Hillcrest, 54-40. • Rogersville returns two all-conference and all-district guards in senior Sarah Jordan and junior Hailey Brown. Jordan (13.8 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 1.1 APG, 1.0 SPG) earned first-team honors and Brown (7.6 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.5 SPG) earned second-team honors last year. Both are poised to make big contributions once again in 2015-16. • The Lady Wildcats have a pair of 5’9” forwards in Sarah Posey and Maci McHenry to provide a presence in the paint. • Jordyn and Jenna Gault will round out the Rogersville backcourt and provide perimeter shooting. Jordyn played in every game last year as a freshman and averaged 1.5 steals per game. Senior Jenna Gault missed the entire season due to an ACL injury, so she will be eager to contribute this season.
Coach McHenry on expectations this season: “Our expectations are to compete in each and every game. We have several new faces on the varsity level, but we also have returning varsity players that are good players and leaders. I believe we have a good blend on our team to compete at a high level. We anticipate getting better as the season matures and to play our best basketball in February and March. As a program we expect to do all the things needed to compete for a conference and district championship.”
Coach Denny McHenry on preparing his team for the postseason: “We continue to make our schedule more demanding in order to ready us for the end of the season. We would like to continue our success in conference play and take the next step in competing for a district championship.”
11/19 @ Rolla
11/19 @ Rolla
11/28-12/3 @ Republic Tournament
11/28-12/2 @ Fair Grove Tournament
12/5 vs. Glendale
12/19 @ Strafford
Head Coach: Denny McHenry
2/17 vs. Bolivar
1/30 @ Bolivar
2/23 vs. Willard (Senior Night)
2/16 vs. Reeds Spring (Senior Night)
Head Coach: Tony Armstrong 2015-16 Record: 11-15
Head Coach: Dan Stander 2015-16 Record: 9-17
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Springfield Catholic will head into the 2016-17 basketball season looking to avenge an early-out in last year’s district tournament, losing 60-34 to Conway in the opening round. • The Irish graduated their leading scorer from last season in Garrison Howell, as well as Jake Neff, another key piece in the varsity lineup. • Although there are no seniors on the roster this season for Catholic, they do return two-year starter andjunior Ian Cochran, who stands 6’7” and averaged 5.5 points per game and 4.5 rebounds per game last year as a sophomore. • Cochran, along with Brett Maes, Lincoln Jones and Michael Zolfaghari, will provide leadership as juniors in the program. • Look for Charlie O’Reilly and Jake Branham to make an impact as sophomores. O’Reilly is the leading returning scorer (9.0 PPG), and the point guard Branham has grown three inches since last year, now standing 6’1” according to head coach Tony Armstrong. O’Reilly and Branham both started every game last year as freshmen.
• The Lady Irish began the season 1-10 before finishing 8-7, falling in the district semifinal round to Fair Grove. • Like the boys’ team, the Lady Irish will head into the 2016-17 campaign with no seniors on the roster. • As a freshman last year, Madison Chittenden led the team in nearly every statistical category (14.2 PPG, 40% FG, 6.8 RPB, 2.1 APG, 2.6 SPG, 1.9 BPG). • Coach Stander on his talented underclassman: “Madison is like a Ben Zobrist, she can play any position that she is put in and can come through in the clutch when her team needs that knockout punch. With another year of experience under her belt, I can only imagine the stats she will put up on the board this year.” • Look for junior Emma Lucas to provide leadership as the returning starting point guard. Lucas was second in assists (1.9 per game) and steals (2.1 per game) behind Chittenden last season. • Jaycee Cabasi (10.3 PPG), Lindsey Murphy and Olivia Wilson highlight a sophomore class with varsity experience. Another sophomore, Lily Edwards, was sidelined with a knee injury last year, but has made a full recovery and is in line to contribute to the varsity.
Coach Armstrong on heading into a season with no senior players: “Despite our youth, our kids have played a lot of basketball and got valuable experience last year. We should have lots of competition for spots and this should provide us with plenty of depth and make practices extremely competitive. We have some length and our skill level is pretty high. Several of our kids are basketball ‘junkies’, who love to play. We have gotten bigger and stronger since last year, but still need to improve our strength. Our season will depend on how much we want to guard, and how important that becomes to our players.”
Coach Dan Stander on his team’s expectations this season: “Starting the season last year 1-10 and then turning the season around and finishing on an 8-7 run, we hope to use that momentum and pick up where we left off at the end of the year. With a year of varsity experience under our belts, the confidence level is up and the excitement level is there to get a great start to this season. We will be very competitive and stack up well against our opponents.”
11/22 @ Mountain Grove
11/21 @ Stockton
11/28-12/3 @ Strafford Tournament
11/28-12/2 @ Fair Grove Tournament
1/13 @ Fair Grove
12/15 @ Strafford
2/2 vs. Ash Grove (Senior Night)
1/26 @ Fair Grove
2/16 @ Stockton
2/13 vs. Marshfield
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There was a noticeable gap between the haves and the havenots in the Big 8 last season, with five teams (Aurora, East Newton, Lamar, McDonald County, Monett) winning 15 or more games. The remaining four (Carl Junction, Cassville, Mt. Vernon and Seneca) all finished with eight or fewer victories. McDonald County (21-6 overall, 8-0 Big 8) claimed an outright league title–its first conference title in nearly 20 years–and had the most wins of any Big 8 team in 2015-16, but the Mustangs’ season ended on a sour note as they were ousted by Monett in the Class 4—District 12 semifinals. There are plenty of changes ahead for the Mustangs this winter with new head coach Kyle Fields moving up after assisting Trent Barratt. Seven seniors and their 56 points per game are gone, including Big 8 Player of the Year Daton Aubrey and first-team all-conference selection Drew Harmon. Also gone are shooting guard Max Dill (Second Team All-Big 8) and forward Kole Keith (All-Big 8 Honorable Mention). McDonald County will use a cast of four seniors, six junior and two sophomores to fill the production that was lost. Among the senior class includes Brandon McAdams (5’10”), Sergio Dozal (5’8”), Noah Jones (5’9”) and Devon Aubrey (6’3”). Devon is the younger brother of graduating senior, Daton. The plethora of juniors includes Cole Delansantos (6’2”), Rustan Lett (5’9”), Drew Landers (6’2”), Grant Cooper (6’2”), Payton Barton (6’1”) and Bucky Harrell (6’0”). The sophomores include Cooper Reece (6’4”) and Boston O’Dowd (5’10”). “My outlook on this season is that we are a young team in a new system,” Fields said. “We will need to make sure our goal is to improve every day. We are excited about the upcoming season and the potential of our team, but we will need to keep a positive frame of mind and continue to get better. East Newton gave McDonald County its biggest scare in conference action, playing the Mustangs to a two-point loss at home. The Patriots bounced back from that close loss with seven straight victories en route to claiming the Class 3—District 12 championship as the No. 3 seed, beating Lamar on a last-second shot by Dalton Zimmerman. It marked East Newton’s first boys’ basketball district title in 40 years. The Patriots gave Fair Grove everything it could handle in the Class 3 sectional round, but ultimately 76
lost, 47-38, to end their season 18-12. East Newton has plenty of change ahead this season after graduating four starters. First-year coach Ethan Baker will be utilizing a roster primarily made up of juniors and sophomores. Junior guard Caleb Jackson cracked the starting lineup late in the season and returns as East Newton’s top scorer after averaging about seven points, three rebounds and three assists per game. Dustin McDermott is a point-forward type at 6’3” and could be in line for a breakout season after battling injuries. Coleman Booker is East Newton’s lone returning senior letterman and brings toughness and physicality to the court, Baker said. East Newton possesses a wealth of newcomers this upcoming season, including 6’1” senior Eric Putnam, juniors Preston Walker (5’11”) and Mathew Braiser (6’1”) and sophomores Colton Ball (5’10”), Bryce Camber (6’0”), Davis Turner (5’9”), and Ethan Hailey (6’4”). Monett’s strong campaign (19-9) ended with a loss to Carthage in the Class 4—District 12 finals. A victory would’ve given Monett its first district title since 1979 and first 20-win season since 1964. Seven players graduated from Monett’s district runner-up team, including All-Big 8 selections Jonah O-Zone Magazine
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Whyman (3.0 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 3.0 APG); and 6’1” junior Michael Danner (2.7 PPG, 2.2 APG). Juniors Stuart McKarus (6’0”) and Cooper Lucas (6’0”) will see varsity minutes as well. “We have a very athletic and deep group coming back,” Ryerson said. “Our goal is to pressure the ball and push the pace to use our depth to an advantage. We practice at a very quick pace and, during games, we preach a very aggressive approach, both offensively and defensively.”
Paszek (11.4 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 3.6 APG, 2.1 SPG) and Logan Coones (18.7 PPG). Monett returns just one starter from last season in senior Alex Turner. The 6’4” Turner was the fourth-leading scorer for Monett last year (7.2 PPG) but made a team-best 50.3 percent of his field goals and was second on the team with 5.2 rebounds per game. Junior Cameron Johnson (6’5”) and senior Tommy Sangston (6’1”) will accompany Turner in the frontcourt. Johnson can impact the game around the rim with his size, averaging nearly a block per game in limited varsity action last year as a sophomore. Sangston missed his junior season due to an ACL injury and will be eager to contribute as a senior. Garrett Tharp, Gavin Carr, Jackson Spencer, Jedd Anderson and Brian Parra-Navarro will all compete for minutes at the guard positions. Lamar (20-7) was doomed by a last-second basket from East Newton in the Class 3—District 12 championship game. The Tigers will be another Big 8 team with a new coach leading the way, as Tyler Ryerson takes over for Joel Braden. Lamar will need a new point guard after the graduation of point guard Nicholas Ray but otherwise returns four starters from a 20-win team. The Tigers will have dominating presence returning to the post in 6’5” senior Sam Timmons. He averaged about 16 points and seven rebounds per game in earning All-Big 8 First Team honors. “Sam took a huge leap last year,” Ryerson said. “His athleticism sets him apart from every other big man. He can score on the block or out on the floor.” In addition, the Tigers will see the return of two more double-digit scorers in Luke Hardman and Trey Mooney. Hardman, a 6-foot senior, posted 10.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 2.1 steals per game. Mooney, a 6’4”, senior, scored 10.6 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. Both were second-team all-conference honorees last season. Other possible contributors include 6’1” junior Ian Moore (6.3 PPG, 2.0 RPG); 5’10” senior Anthony Wilkerson (4.1 PPG, 2.3 RPG); 5’11” senior Matt 78
Aurora also fell victim to a last-second shot in a district title game. The Houn’ Dawgs saw Glendale make a buzzer-beating shot from near half-court as time expired in the first overtime, forcing a double-OT session where Glendale would prevail, 68-66. Aurora (19-10) graduated a trio of All-Big 8 players in forward Logan Bader and guards Josh Fronabarger and guard Austin Carmichael. Overall, nine letter-winners graduated. A new-look and young Aurora team will lean on the senior tandem of Preston Naylor and Devon Hilton. Hilton is a three-year starter at point guard and the top-returning scorer, averaging about eight points-pergame as a junior. Naylor takes on a more prominent role. The 6’3” post player averaged about six points and six rebounds per game last season. Aurora will be aided by returnees such as senior Zac Shoemaker and juniors Matthew Miller and Clayton Dunning. Overall, 11 newcomers could push for varsity minutes among a few juniors and seniors and a deep sophomore class. “I think what makes [a whole new team fun is] to see which one of these men will step up and fill the void for us,” sixth-year Aurora coach Daniel Cutbirth said of the upcoming season. “Even though there are lots of unknowns, I like the challenge in front of us. Cassville comes off an 8-18 season and will be looking for new help in the backcourt. The Wildcats graduated a double-digit scorer and four-year starter in Noah Hadlow, as well as primary point guard Allen Lambel. Cassville brings back two starters in 6’2” senior forward Collin Pearman, who averaged a double-double, and promising sophomore guard Ethan Hoppes, who cracked the starting lineup as a freshman late in the season. Gavin White, Troy Rose and Trey Dalton are also expected to be regulars in the varsity rotation for Cassville. “Offensively, we will be more balanced this year,” second-year Cassville coach Barrett Milleson said. “We return a lot of talent in the guard spots and we become much deeper in the forward spot. I expect this group to be able to score in multiple ways.” Seneca, after averaging 17 wins over a three-season span from 2011-12 to 2013-14, endured a second-straight campaign of single-digit wins, finishing 7-18. The Indians, however, appear equipped to make a run back to the top of the Big 8 for the first time since winning shares of back-to-back conference titles in 2013 and 2014. All five starters are back, spearheaded by senior
point guard Zack Dunnam, who averaged about 10 points and three assists per game last season. Seneca will regain two starting guards in the form of Spencer Brattin and Nate Williams. Brattin, a 6-foot senior, contributed 8.2 points, three rebounds and 2.7 assists-per-game last year. Williams, a 6’1” senior, had 4.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists. The Indians also welcome back two important post players in Gavin Dunnam and Cameron Brattin on the block. Dunnam, a 6’4” junior, averaged 6.5 points-per-game, along with 6.3 rebounds, last season. Brattin, a 6’5”, junior, scored nine points while grabbing five boards per game. In addition, Seneca will return a quartet of options to their bench in seniors Cameron Nesvold (6’3”) and Skylar Dodson (6’2”), junior Brett Reeves (6’0”) and sophomore Gavin Clouse, who each contributed at the varsity level last season. Mt. Vernon had a rare down year in 2015-16. Before going 6-16 last season, Mount Vernon rattled off four-straight winning campaigns while recording 20-plus wins in three of those years. This year, they’ll lean on a trio of seniors to bring the program back to prominence. Guard Jarrett Massie, forward Brett Campbell and guard Garrett Hadlock should all contribute in big roles. Massie averaged 15 points-per-game as a junior. A star wide receiver on the gridiron, Massie is poised to put in work on the hardwood again this season.
Brett Campbell also stands at 6’2” and, like Massie, can play both the guard and forward positions. Campbell’s natural position is in the frontcourt, but he should be able to provide versatility on both ends. Massie will have a pair of fellow football players alongside him in the backcourt in Hadlock and junior Ty Boswell. Mount Vernon may have an impactful tandem of newcomers in the paint this season. Look for juniors Kyle Bushman (6’7”) and Chase Brashers (6’8”) to be a productive set of “twin towers” with an immediate impact on the defensive end.
Former league power Carl Junction has left the Big 8, leaving the girls’ conference crown up for grabs. Aurora and East Newton tied for second in the Big 8 last season, with 6-2 records in league play. Aurora, 15-9 last season, brings in a new coach as Trish Marsh replaces Jim Moore, who took over the girls’ basketball program at Houston. Marsh brings a decorated resume to Aurora. She was a two-time all-state player at Marshfield High School before playing four seasons collegiately at Missouri S&T, where she ranks ninth on the program’s all-time scoring list (1,125 points). Following her playing career she went on to serve as an assistant to Nyla Milleson for two decades, making stops at Glendale, Drury and Missouri State along the way. Aurora boasts arguably the top player in the conference in senior Emily Parker. She’s hoping for a full and healthy senior season after playing in only 14 games last season due to a knee injury. Before the injury, Parker averaged about 23 points per game on 58 percent shooting from the field. After graduating three seniors and seeing point guard Larissa Pyle transfer to Willard, Aurora will turn to returnees such as junior guard Kaylee Huffman, senior guard Morgan Montgomery, junior forward Emily Moore and junior post Cheyanne Eutsler. Eutsler stepped up big last year in the absence of Parker, Huffman adds depth at the guard spot, and Moore is another player coming off an ACL injury. “I am excited to see Eutsler and Parker play together,” Marsh said. “Cheyanne will be expected to bring physicality inside as well as a big rebounding threat for us. “Kaylee is another guard I am expecting to step up with her intensity on both ends of the floor. Her athleticism can help our team defensively. I want her to attack the rim on offense.” Also returning to varsity action will be senior Courtney Paulsen and sophomore Ashley Vaught. East Newton (18-10) was five points shy of a district championship and a trip to the Class 3 state playoffs last season, losing 36-32 to El Dorado Springs in the Class 3—District 12 finals. The Patriots, who graduated two starters in Emily Sorrell and Kortney Chambers (first-team All-Big 8), bring back a premier player in the Big 8 80
in senior forward Koty Cooper. Cooper’s already surpassed 1,000 points for her career and posted averages of 16.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. “Koty is a kid with both guard and post skills,” said East Newton coach Erin Rice. “Her size causes a lot of issues when she plays the guard spot. She will be playing a major role this season as a guard.” In addition, Rice returns a trio of reliable juniors looking to step into more prominent roles. Those include juniors Kinsey Sorrell, Jaylen Hayward and Brynne Smith. Sorrell was the floor general for the Patriots last season and will assume those duties once again. Hayward came off the bench and played a vital role as a guard last year. Rice preaches a defense-first philosophy with East Newton. A nightly goal for the Patriots is holding the opposition under 40 points. Lamar was 14-12 last season but played its best toward the end. The Tigers pulled a modest upset on senior night, knocking off Aurora at home to deny the Houn’ Dawgs sole possession of second place in the Big 8. O-Zone Magazine
on last season’s success. Juniors Haylee Yeats (5’4”) and Brooke Leeper (5’8”) and sophomores Lyndsey Hood (5’7”), Lauren Vaughn (5’8”) and Maddy Mosley (5’7”) all add to the group of young talent and hope to impact the team as varsity newcomers.
As a No. 6-seed in districts, Lamar defeated No. 3 seed Mt. Vernon in the opening round and took No. 2-seed East Newton to overtime in the semifinals. Hopes remain high with the Tigers, who graduated two starters–center Kaitlyn Graves and forward Shelby Haskins–who accounted for about 20 points per game. The Lady Tigers will start with the return of senior point guard and floor leader Alyssa Fanning (5’4”), who’s a two-time all-conference selection. Junior guard Darrah Bartlett averaged about 10 points per game and can score in a variety of ways, said Lamar coach Dale Patton. In addition, Lamar will return sophomore standouts Katelyn Mooney and Kara Beshore, who could join the starting lineup. They combined for about 13 points-per-game as freshmen. Three other returning lettermen include junior Lauren Morgan and sophomores Lauren Compton and Michaella Allen. “We will play seven strong players with a lot of team speed and quickness,” Patton said. “Early, we will be looking to add to our depth on the bench. In the end, our team will be ready come district time and look to compete for a district crown.” Youth was served on Mt. Vernon last season– and should be again this season–as the Mountaineers finished 13-11 with many freshmen playing heavy varsity minutes. Point guard Cameron Call was the best of the bunch, averaging about 17 points and five assists per game. Caitlin Hicks, Camryn Eldridge and Ashlyn McCanless are also entering their sophomore years with varsity experience. The lone senior for Mount Vernon is 6’1” Mikala Veith, who led the team with 5.5 rebounds per contest last year. The Lady Mountaineers finished 13-11 last year after back-to-back sub-.500 seasons. They’ll count on their young players to continue building 82
Seneca was one of six Big 8 team to post a winning record in 2015-16, finishing 14-12 after losing to eventual champion El Dorado Springs by 10 points in the district quarterfinals. The Indians graduated three starters from that team. Maranda Cooper, a 5’6” post player, is the team’s top returning scorer (11.4 PPG, 4.0 RPG). Payton Clouse and Kayleigh Hancock will round out the returning senior class. Clouse, standing at 5’5”, scored 6.5 points-per-game last season, added 2.5 rebounds and one assist. Hancock, a 5’6” post, chipped in a three-point effort, including 3.1 assists. In addition, Seneca will receive contributions from a trio of returning sophomores in Chaney Platner, Taylor Mailes and Sarah Hoover. “It’s always hard to replace seniors,” fourthyear Seneca coach Daryl Harbaugh said. “One thing we can’t coach is experience. There is always someone who will need to step up and fill the void. I expect that to happen this year.” Cassville hopes to carry over some momentum after finishing with a winning record (14-13) for the first time since 2009-10. Cassville will welcome a veteran group back to the court. Four starters return, including 6’3” junior center Madi Stokes, who averaged a double-double as a sophomore to go with 2.7 blocks per game. Key returning seniors include Kandace Wallace, Macey Parsons and Kaileigh Gorski. Wallace, a 5’6” guard, registered 5.7 points per game and grabbed 2.5 boards as a junior. Parsons, a 5’10” post, chipped in 4.2 points a game with nearly four rebounds. In addition, Cassville will welcome back a trio of juniors who played significant varsity minutes during summer-league action. Those upperclassmen include Hallie Long, Ashlynn Howe, Audra Brooks and Kaylee Reibert. Long, a 5’8” forward, averaged 6.4 points-per-game with nearly five assists and two steals. Cassville’s style of play will alter slightly following the transfer of all-conference honorable mention guard Devyn Callahan, who moved to Purdy. Cassville will still look to push the ball, though. After a strong two-year run (35 combined wins), McDonald County bottomed out in 2015-16 with a 4-22 record. McDonald County will again have to compete with a younger roster as fourth-year head coach Brad Short looks to replace two starters and three lettermen due to graduation. Short loses all-conference player Baili Nelson as well as Dakota Bunch and Kelsey Thornton. McDonald County will build around three
returning starters and four returning letter-winners from a squad that took a first-round exit via Cassville in district play. Leading the returning starters for the Lady Mustangs are senior Tricia Wattman (5’11”), junior Cloee Helm (5’6”) and sophomore Madison Hall (5’7”). Wattman averaged eight points and four rebounds per game last season, Helm chipped in five points with three assists and three steals, and Hall added six points, three rebounds and three assists. “Tricia is a post who has really developed,” Short said. “I expect big things from her this year. Cloee is a point guard who really gave us a boost last year and started every game. She became a knockdown shooter and a great defender. Madison is a guard who will need to step in and contribute as a sophomore. She can shoot and handle the ball very well.” The rebuild process also continues at Monett, which has won just nine total games since the 2011-12 season. Monett will return a pair of quality senior guards in Emily Krueger (5’7”) and Sarah Childress (5’6”). Look for them to improve upon Monett’s minus-five turnover margin from last season. Sophomores Alyssa Williams (5’6”) and Katie Schmidt (5’7”) each played significant minutes as
freshmen. Kaesha George, Ashley Kurima, Kelsey Dalton and Abby Patton will step in as incoming freshmen with a chance to compete for varsity minutes. “We’re still in the building phases of trying to turn things around here at Monett,” second-year head coach Alyssa Kennedy said. “Our program has a lot of really good kids who are driven to succeed and we’re really close to getting to where we want to be. I think we have the potential to surprise some people this year with our youth and excitement on the court.”
Head Coach: Skip Brock 2015-16 Record: 3-23
2015-16 Record: 26-2 – Class 4 – District 12 Champion
Head Coach: Brad Shorter
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Skip Brock is working to rebuild the Bulldog basketball program as Carl Junction enters the COC-Large. Brock has a career record of 433-315. • Seth Towery, the lone senior to finish last season, has graduated, and Brock will look to his returning squad to replace Towery’s leadership and mentoring. • Sophomore Trent Smith, the Bulldogs’ leading scorer and rebounder as a freshman, leads the way for Carl Junction. A versatile player, the 6’5” Smith can play inside or outside, creating matchup problems for defenses. • Fellow sophomore Nakoa Warren also took advantage of varsity opportunities last season. The 5’11” guard has the capability to be an outstanding three-point shooter for the Bulldogs, according to Brock. • At 6’5”, Junior Will Beebe gives Carl Junction some additional length at the wing. Beebe can play any of the five positions on the court and possesses a high basketball IQ. • ZayShawn Weston joined the starting lineup late in the season. The athletic 6-foot senior showed great improvement throughout the season at both ends of the court and will be counted on for his defensive abilities. • Floor general Brendon Hoberecht rounds out Carl Junction’s returning group. The 5’7” junior took over the starting point guard role early in the season and never looked back.
• Carl Junction came up just short of a trip to the Final Four in a 55-52 overtime loss to Owensville in the Class 4 quarterfinals. • The Lady Bulldogs return a strong core led by Alex Vogt. Last year, Vogt was named the Big 8 Player of the Year, averaging 14.4 PPG, 5.1 RPG and 2.8 SPG. • Fellow Senior Lauren Walker is also back. Walker, a 6-foot forward, was a part-time starter last year, playing valuable minutes down the stretch of the season due to injury. She is the ultimate glue player. • Carl Junction also returns 6’2” forward Megan Scott. Last year, Scott battled injuries throughout the second half of the season but still managed 11.7 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.0 blocks. She has received interest from several D-1 programs including Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri State. • Juniors Kate Dreiling, Karli Frazier, Tosha Hill and Madison Beecher will see significant minutes this year, as will sophomore Kenzee Shanks. • A trio of freshmen could end up playing valuable roles. Katie Scott, Megan’s sister, is 6’1” with a guard skillset, and guards Dani Wrensch and Shila Winder will have the opportunity to help bolster the backcourt.
Coach Skip Brock on joining the COC-Large: “We have been playing several members of the conference the last two seasons, so we know how good this league is and how competitive we must become to have a chance. We hope that our difficult schedule prepares us for an opportunity to compete for a district championship. Again, if we work hard and do the right things, we believe we can compete.”
Coach Brad Shorter on joining the COC-Large: “I understand the difficulty the conference presents, and it will be important for our players to understand the importance of playing our best game every night. I honestly don’t think there is a better league in the state at preparing teams for postseason play than the COC.”
2016 Class 4-District 12 Champions
12/13 vs. Frontenac (Kan.) (Home Opener)
1/9 @ Republic (First COC Large game)
1/10 @ Republic (First COC Large Game)
1/12 vs. Branson
1/19-21 @ Springfield Catholic Tournament
2/6 @ Nixa
2/16 vs. Joplin (Senior Night)
2/9 @ Ozark
2/23 @ McDonald County
(Final Regular Season Game)
2/13 vs. Carthage (Senior Night)
Head Coach: Tim Brown
Head Coach: Jenny Talbert
2015-16 Record: 26-5 – Class 3 – District 11 Champions
2015-16 Record: 20-8 – Class 3 – District 11 Runner-Up
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• The Fair Grove Eagles secured the most wins in a single season in program history last year, highlighted by a district title and a quarterfinal appearance in the Class 3 state tournament. They came up one win short of the Final Four, falling 66-61, to Mountain Grove. • The Eagles will miss a pair of graduates in all-state selection Kyle Cavanaugh and three-year starter Mason Kesterson. • Fair Grove will return one of the area’s best shooters in Garrett Kesterson, who averaged 20 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals per game last season. Kesterson has 1,450 career points and is 107 three-point makes away from setting the Missouri career record. • Evan Fullerton (6’7”) and Steven Huskey (6’5) also return to the starting lineup for Fair Grove. Their size and versatility give the team options with the lineup. • Look for Dalton Cloyd to make an impact this season. Cloyd was the sixth-man last year and should take on a larger role with the team this year. Coach Tim Brown says Cloyd may be one of the most competitive kids in the school. • Juniors Garrett Potter, Jayden Kensinger and Brian Carroll, along with freshman guard Cole Gilpin, are in line to make big varsity contributions this season.
• The Lady Eagles made it to the Class 3 – District 11 championship game where they fell, 72-62, to Strafford. • Fair Grove graduated seven seniors who accounted for 61 percent of the team’s scoring last year. • Despite the graduated production, Fair Grove will have a dominant returning underclassman in Alana Findley. As a freshman, Findley led the team in both scoring (12.9 PPG) and rebounding (11.4 RPG). • Findley was just 1-for-3 from the perimeter last season, but head coach Jenny Talbert says she has expanded her range and ball handling and will be an even more versatile player this season as a sophomore. • Senior guard Lorin Weaver enters her fourth season as a varsity player, averaging 7.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game last season in the backcourt. • Look for 6’2” Harley Maxwell, who saw time in 19 varsity games last year, to see an expanded role this season. • Juniors Taylor Bell and Jordan Coddington, sophomores Cydney Fullerton and Lexie Sutherland, and freshman Maddie Clark should will all vie for time on the varsity team in 2016-17.
Coach Tim Brown on the 2016-17 outlook: “Our senior class has played in three straight district championship games and has big game experience. Our goal is to get better each and every day and compete each time we take the floor. We know that there are a lot of good teams and programs in our conference and in our district. It is going to take a high energy and high effort levels for us to have the success that we want.”
Coach Jenny Talbert on expectations for her team this season: “We have high expectations for this team. We graduated seven from last year’s team, but we really like what we have returning and the new faces coming up. We expect to compete in every game and plan to being playing our best ball at the end of the season. Our conference will once again be tough, but we know those games will help us prepare for districts. We were district runner-up to Strafford last year and we would like nothing more than to make a longer run in the post season.”
11/28-12/3 @ Clever Tournament
11/28-12/2 @ Fair Grove Tournament
12/22 @ Mountain Grove
12/12 @ Mount Vernon
1/3 vs. Conway
2/2 @ Skyline
1/23-27 @ Sparta Tournament
2/4 vs. Crane
2/17 vs. Strafford (Senior Night)
2/16 @ Strafford
Head Coach: Mike Wilson 2015-16 Record: 21-7
Head Coach: Steve Frank 2015-16 Record: 30-3 – Class 3 State Champion
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Strafford lost all five starters and seven total lettermen from last season’s team that fell to Fair Grove, 64-60, in the district semifinals. • Of Strafford’s four returning varsity players, three are seniors: Tyler Winburn, Wyatt Cogdill, and Wyatt Comstock. • Winburn, a 5’9” guard, averaged 7.5 points and 1.4 assists last year. “He’s a very good shooter who has worked hard this summer to improve his overall game,” Wilson said. “He is becoming a very good defender to go with his offensive game.” • Cogdill, a 6’5”, 180-pound forward, averaged 8.4 points and 4.3 rebounds in 25 games last season for the Indians. He should provide them with a nice presence inside. “He will need to help us on both ends of the floor,” Wilson said. “With his length and athletic ability, he will be an important part of our success this season.” • Comstock, a 5’9” guard, played in only 10 games last year but will be one of the primary ball handlers this year for Strafford. • Kensen White also returns after playing in nine varsity games last year. • Senior Drew Hall, juniors Weston Boswell, Jordan Choate and Trenton Roebke, and sophomores Riley Oberbeck and Trayson Lawler are among the newcomers for the Indians this season.
• Strafford brought home the school’s first state championship after beating Saxony Lutheran, 5046, in the Class 3 title game. • The Lady Indians lose just two seniors from last season’s team in Kaylee Larimer and Logan Eden. • Sophomore Hayley Frank leads the returning players. She led the team in scoring (20 points per game), rebounding (11.4 per game) and assists (6.o per game). In addition, she shot 69 percent from the field, 56 percent from three and 89 percent from the free throw line. • Abby Oliver, who is committed to the College of the Ozarks, is back for her senior season. Oliver averaged 18 points and 4.2 assists per game at point guard. • Zoey Mullings and Hayley’s twin sister Kayley Frank are two more key returning pieces that return. Mullings led the team with 13 points and had five rebounds off the bench in the state title game. • Kyndall Compton returns after backing up Oliver at the point last year. • The Lady Indians have six newcomers who will be factors, including a strong crop of freshmen who will make an immediate impact. Alissa Collett transferred in to Strafford this year and will also be a factor.
Coach Mike Wilson on this year’s team: “We will have a different look than in the last two years where we have been senior dominant. We will have a good mix of seniors through sophomores who will fight for varsity playing time. It should make for great competition in practice.”
Coach Steve Frank on the pressure of defending a state title: “I felt like last season we were able to fly under the radar for most of the season, keeping the pressure off our kids. This year we will have a little more pressure on our self, and have to mentally be ready to play every game. Last year’s run to the state title was an awesome experience for the kids and the program. This summer and fall we have tried to turn the page and really focus on our individual and team needs and weaknesses. We have put last year on the back burner and have a whole new focus on a whole new season, remaining humble and hungry.”
12/9 vs. Clever
11/22 @ Lebanon
12/16 @ Conway
11/28-12/3 @ Ash Grove Tournament
12/20 @ Bolivar
12/8 @ Clever
2/14 vs. Marionville (Senior Night)
1/5 @ Skyline
2/17 @ Fair Grove
2/16 vs. Fair Grove (Senior Night)
The Mid-Lakes Conference was deep on the boys’ side in 2015-16, with all seven league members winning at least 10 games. Graduation, however, may alter the league’s landscape this season. Stockton will have a new coach at the helm, as Derald Henderson takes over in place of Mike Kenney, who remains the athletic director at the school. Henderson was previously an assistant coach at Warsaw High School. He’ll have a clean sheet to work with at Stockton, after the Tigers graduated four starters from last season’s team. Key graduates for the Tigers included All-Mid-Lakes selections Colton Brown, Alex Wheeler, Grant Kenney and Eli Hubbard. The Tigers also graduated depth in forwards Adam Sullivan and Mark Bowles. Jacob Collins, a 6’2” senior forward, and Jake Wheeler, a 5’10” junior guard, will be pivotal players for the Tigers this season. Stockton will have numerous first-time varsity players on the court this season. Those players include the senior trio of Justin Pfeifer, Daymond Beckett and Drew Knoll. In addition, junior Connor Brown, sophomores Clayton Hubbard, Gannon Kenney and Jacob Greenlee, along with freshmen Drew Wheeler and Haden Broksieck, will compete for minutes.
Marionville hoisted a district championship last February, defeating a 20-7 Crane team 44-40 in the Class 2 District 11 finals. The Comets will have a new coach this winter, but he’s a familiar face to most Comet fans. Ted Young, who coached the Marionville boys to four state final four appearances from 2002-2006 including a state title in 2005, is on the sidelines again. Young also served a stint as the Marionville girls’ head coach. He’ll look to piece together a new-look lineup following the graduation of Jacob LaSalle (13.7 PPG), Lathan Kerans (10.4 PPG) and Rane Bateman (12.5 PPG), along with Mason Clevenger and Tanner Wright. Cole Brown, who averaged about five points per game in his junior season, is Marionville’s most experienced returning player. Along with Aaron Head (3.2 PPG, 2.7 RPG), the duo will be key for the Comets’ success this year. Levi Doyle, Brandon Horn and Nick Dean round out Marionville’s senior group with guard Ryan Mayberry, expected to be the lone junior. Around six sophomores will push for playing time on a Marionville team that needs scoring. They include: Josh Goodman, Evan Dotson, Gavin Stanton, Dominick Clevenger, Coltin Elliot and Lathen Utke. Stockton enjoyed its winningest season this decade in 2015-16, finishing 18-8 after falling to East Newton in the district semifinals.
Skyline is hoping to build on its 17-12 district championship season and trip to the quarterfinals from last season. The Tigers lost three starters and six lettermen including All-State performer Dylan Mountian. Shawn Bryan is the lone returning senior starter after averaging 8.5 points per game, 5.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.5 steals. Junior Brant Gideon also returns to run the offense after averaging 8.5 points, 2.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 1.3 steals per game. The Tigers, who averaged 63.7 points per game, will also be counting on returning lettermen Marshall Cox and Paden Hodges. Skyline will have plenty of depth with 11 newcomers on the scene. Justin Sons, a senior, will give the Tigers a large presence on offense and defense; Doug Stidham is a senior who will compete for minutes at guard. Other newcomers include Trevor Rowland, Garrett Wisdom, Chris Logan, Dax Beem, Gage Gunter, Ethan Edwards, Bradley Curnutt, Connor Logan, and Preston Scott. Pleasant Hope was 10-16 overall, reaching the double-digit win mark for the second straight season after winning five or fewer games three straight seasons from 2011-12 to 2013-14. Pleasant Hope, which is moving from Class 3 down to Class 2 this season, needs to replace about 40 points-pergame worth of offense from last season’s team with the graduation of players such as Camron Hanson (14.6 PPG) and Anthony Brown (13.5 PPG). The Pirates have a good starting point in senior Jordan Hillenburg. As a junior, the 6’1” guard led the Pirates in scoring with 18.3 points per game.
Hillenburg, who shot over 50 percent from the field, was a do-it-all type of player for the Pirates. He pulled down about 6.5 rebounds and dished out 6.5 assists while swiping three steals per game. The other returning starter for the Pirates is 6’1” senior forward Michael Werland. Newcomers include 6-foot senior guard/forward Hayden Aleshire, 6-foot senior guard/forward Calvin Mitchell, 6-foot senior forward Evan Hillenburg, 6-foot senior forward Chris Nibbellink, 5’11” junior gurad Mason Curnutt, 5’8” sophomore guard Teagan Keck, 6’1” junior guard/forward Peyton Johnson, 5’8” freshman guard Cooper Hickey and 5’11” junior guard/forward Austin Stidham. Ash Grove, coming off a 10-17 season, is faced with the task of replacing one of the area’s top scorers in Ben Weinreis. He averaged 22.0 points per game and finished with 2,031 career points, the third-highest total in school history. One returning senior and three juniors will step into leadership roles for the Pirates and second-year coach Josh Reece. Junior Braden Trammell averaged 10.5 points-per-game last season and will be asked to fill a scoring void. Juniors Spencer Eagleburger (5’10”) and Turner Davis (5’11”), along with senior Max Cashio (6’1”), also return for the Pirates. The Pirates will add an instant height boost in the presence of 6’6” freshman Garrett Simmerman. Several juniors will step up to varsity to compete for minutes. They include: Noah Branham (5’11”), Matt Keller (5’8”), Tate Moreland (5’11”) and Chase White (5’10”).
The Mid-Lakes Conference looks to be loaded at the top again on the girls’ side, but how will the rest of the league play out for 2016-17? Morgan Allred, Alexa Owens and Kayla Keene. Allred averaged about 16 points per game and made 48 3-pointers in earning first-team all-conference honors. Owens was honorable-mention all-conference. “Last year was a great turn-around season having gone from five wins two years ago to 15 wins last year,” Ash Grove coach Austin Houp said. “We’ve been developing a solid program at Ash Grove and we began to see the fruits of it last year.” Ash Grove will lean on the senior duo of Mallory Keith and Sydnee Cashio. Keith is Ash Grove’s top returning scorer and holds career averages of 13.6 points, 3.2 steals, 3.5 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game. Cashio averaged nearly seven rebounds per game last season. Catie Martin, a junior and standout volleyball player, figures to see increased playing time. Freshman Kennedi Climer is pushing for immediate varsity minutes.
The Skyline girls return four of five starters from last year’s third-place finishing team. Leading the way is junior guard Kaylee DaMitz. DaMitz averaged 15 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 3.1 steals as a sophomore. Seniors McKinsey Mountain and Lauren Wouters along with sophomore Autumn Garrett return to the Skyline starting lineup as well. Mountain averaged 13 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.8 steals. Wouters is long and athletic and averaged 6 points, 3.6 rebounds, while Garrett contributed 10 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.9 steals. Savannah Owen, Kristen Miller, Valen Logan, Sarah Cunningham and Sierra Retherford also return. Coach Kevin Cheek also has a strong group of freshmen looking to contribute. They include Hannah Bradley, Alivia Gollihare, McKenzie Carver, Allison Nothnagel and Madsyn Haynes. “We should be able to play with most people,” Cheek said. “We return a lot of players, but each year is different. I like the pieces of the puzzle we have. We just need to make sure we put them in the right spots at the right time.” Ash Grove, which was Class 3 runner-up in 2014, bottomed out the following season with just five wins. But the Lady Pirates rebounded well in 2015-16, finishing 15-12. Ash Grove, which won the Marionville Tournament and was runner-up at the Walnut Grove Holiday Tournament, has some gaps to fill following the graduation of 88
Stockton faces the start of a new era this winter as Kevin Besch steps in for Kevin Burns. Many new faces will be on the court for the Stockton girls, who finished 18-8 overall and 3-3 in league play last season. Overall, four starters and seven senior letter-winners are gone from that Stockton team. Among the graduation losses were center Sarah Spurgeon, guard Taylor Greenlee and guard Mati Burns, who all earned all-conference honors. After seeing playing time as a freshman, sophomore Amie Garver will look to run the offense at point guard. Stockton will also look to newcomers such as seniors Annie Besch and Sierra Kenney, along with sophomores Sarrah Hottes and Kaitlyn Millard. Besch is a 5’9” transfer from Monett who can play guard or forward and score inside or out. Kenney, a volleyball player, brings athleticism and potential to the court. She’s playing basketball for the first time since junior high. Also new to Stockton are transfers Alexia Smith, a 5’6” sophomore guard from Humansville, and Shanobi Lutes, a 5’6” sophomore forward from Oklahoma. “This will be a rebuilding year, having all new faces on the floor,” said Kevin Besch, who had recent stints as the Aurora girls’ and Miller boys’ coach. “[We hope to be] getting better each week and getting ready for districts.” Marionville, after finishing just below .500 last season at 14-15, will have a new coach leading the way in Melanie Mayberry. The Comets will have three starters back from a team that limited opponents to just over 46 points per game a
season ago. Seniors Kymbra Kirby and Bayleigh Finn will lead the way. Finn averaged 10 points per game last season while Kirby put up 12 points and eight rebounds per game. Two sophomores will also take on expanded roles in Gracie Fiddyment and Lauren Robinson. Along with the 5’11” Kirby, Robinson gives Marionville height with her 5’10” frame. In addition, the Lady Comets sport eight newcomers on this season’s roster. Two seniors, one sophomore and five freshmen make up the core of first-year players for Mayberry looking to make an impact amid a rapid style of play. Pleasant Hope can only go up following a challenging a 2015-16 season. The Pirates were winless (0-26) and reached the 30-point mark in only five games. Pleasant Hope Athletic Director Brent Offerdahl, who coached the boys’ team last season, will be at the helm for the girls this winter. The Lady Pirates will have everyone back from a season ago. Sierra Sutton, a 5’10” junior post player, averaged close to a double-double with eight points and nine rebounds per game. Along with sophomore guard Courtney Jenkins (7.0 PPG), the duo will be key for a Pleasant Hope team trying to end a 32-game winless stretch.
The SCA has no shortage of football tradition and pride, but last season the league showed it can also represent well on the basketball court.
Mountain Grove shined brightest, reaching the Class 3 final four, and finishing in third place, to earn the unofficial label of “public school champions.” The Panthers graduated two seniors from that team, including leading scorer D.J. McNew (20.0 PPG, 6.0 RPG). He was two-time SCA Player of the Year and is now playing baseball at State Fair Community College. Mountain Grove’s other graduate was Thomas Clifton, who averaged about seven points and three rebounds per game. Coach Duane Hiler returns for his ninth season with Mountain Grove and brings back an impressive nucleus of athletes. A pair of two-year starters and multi-sport athletes return in Carter Otwell and Treye Collins along with brothers Brock and Cade Coffman. Otwell, a junior, averaged about 10 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals per game in earning All-SCA honorable mention. Collins, a senior, is a savvy guard who averaged six points, four rebounds and six assists. Brock Coffman (12.0 PPG, 6.0 RPG) is Mountain Grove’s top returning scorer. The senior forward earned second-team All-SCA honors last season. Junior Cade Coffman was a premier reserve last season. He averaged about 11 points off the bench and drained 70 3-pointers on a 45-percent shooting percentage from deep. The Panthers also return 6-foot senior Logan Sheppard. Newcomers include sophomores Dillon Massey and Dawson Hiler, juniors Patrick Lane, Conner McNew, Hayden Newberry and Gaven Veach, and senior Austin Williams. The Panthers were efficient scorers last season, knocking down nearly half of attempted field goals and shooting 37 percent from downtown. Hiler said scoring will be more balanced this season with McNew’s exit, but there is no question that Mountain Grove has a talented bunch. “The SCA will be very competitive from top to bottom,” Hiler said. “Liberty, Thayer, Ava and Salem all return very good squads. If we continue to improve defensively and learn to play together, we have a chance to have another good year. We hope to be able to be in the mix for a championship again.”
first season as Liberty brings back four players who averaged 7.5 points or more per game in 2015-16. Josh Pruett will step off the field as quarterback and transfer that athleticism to the court come late November. The 6’1” senior put up 11.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.7 steals and shot 44 percent from downtown last season. Mathew Coatney (10.1 PPG) is a skilled 6’6” shooting guard. Junior Shalin Stout brings elite height at 6’8”. He averaged 7.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and nearly three blocks per game as a sophomore. Senior guard Brenton Bush is a gifted defender who brought 7.5 points and 2.1 rebounds per game to the table last season. Other contributors included Koel Orchard (4.5 PPG, 2.1 RPG) and Devin Hedden (3.2 PPG). Liberty did graduate a big piece to its team in Corbin Dewick, who lead the Eagles in scoring (16.7 PPG) and rebounding (6.0 RPG). “We have the tools to be a team that is exceptional at playing defense and rebounding,” Walker said. “We will have an emphasis offensively on taking care of the basketball and executing at a high level.”
Liberty welcomes in a new coach following a 20-9 season. Former Missouri State-West Plains men’s basketball coach Yancey Walker takes the place of Rob Brown for the Eagles. Walker will have some talent to work with in his
Thayer has enjoyed a lot of success under coach Matt Pitts, now in his 10th season at the school. The Bobcats have won six district championships, three SCA titles and made one Final Four appearance in that span. But, on paper this could be Thayer’s biggest rebuild O-Zone Magazine
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in Pitts’ tenure. The Bobcats lose four of their five starters and five of their top six scorers, including all-state guard Ayden Henry. Henry poured in 1,444 points over the last three seasons, and the Bobcats racked up a 70-20 record in that time. Henry, Braydon Pender, Zach Horton, Will Tillman and Tucker Hargrove were part of an eightman class that had one of the most successful runs in program history. Leading a crop of youngsters will be senior guard Zyman Langley. He led the team in assists last year (4.8 APG) but is also a capable scorer (9.2 PPG) and defender (1.5 SPG). Senior Clay Williams and junior Jalen Andrews will step into larger roles after seeing some varsity minutes last year. Another player to keep an eye on is sophomore Ayden Stone. Much like Henry, Stone found minutes last season as a freshman. Pitts is expecting the now 6’5” sophomore to be a headache for opposing coaches every time he steps on the floor. Senior Dakota Poulette and juniors Dagen Jones, Jordan Miller and Jett Haven helped lead Thayer’s JV team to a perfect season last year, suggesting that an anticipated rebuild could just be a reload. Thayer will also receive some guard depth in the form of senior move-in Kobe Meyer. Meyer helped Hartville win a state championship last year and will be a lockdown defender for Pitts immediately. “Our JV was undefeated last season and has a chance to be special if everyone can accept their role and work to maximize their potential,” Pitts said. “They play really well together and, when Zyman is thrown in there, we become very skilled and talented.” Cabool saw a significant jump in its win total a season ago. Cabool’s 17-11 record marked a nine-win jump from the previous season. The Bulldogs graduated a solid group of seniors that led the way, including 6’2” senior and leading scorer Tanner Barnes, a four-year starter who averaged 20 points and nearly 10 rebounds per game. Coach Brad Shockley will look to keep the Bulldogs afloat with a new, five-player senior class. Jon Smith (12.6 PPG) is the team’s sharpshooter from deep. He made 89 3-pointers last season. Colten Hensley has benefited from offseason training and should see a bump in his scoring average (9.4 PPG) from last season. Bailey Williams, Caleb Manning
and Logan Miller round-out Cabool’s senior group. Varsity newcomers include the junior trio of Tytus Atkins, guard Brett Vonallmen and Jordan Primazon. Shockley said his players will have to adjust to new roles early on, but he hopes they will settle in as quickly as possible. “We are hoping to be able to push the tempo more this year than we have done in the past,” he said. “With our small size, we are going to try to really push the ball on offense and, defensively, try and pick up full-court.” Salem comes off a season in which it went 16-11 under first-year coach Conrad Prugh. The Blue Tigers will be looking to replace leading scorer and all-region selection Kobe Mead, who averaged 19 points per game. Also gone are Antonio Quick (13.0 PPG; Evangel football signee), Kyle Hemken and Cameron Howard. The team welcomes back a host of seniors and experienced players who will be charged with filling the void. Senior Logan Woolf is a 6’3” defensive presence who averaged 8.6 points and about four rebounds per game. Eric Wood provides ball-handling and defense at point guard. At 6’5”, senior Jacob Happel is the athletic big man for the team, but he runs the floor well in addition to shot blocking. Happel averaged 7.4 points and about four rebounds per game last season and will be counted upon as a post presence this season. Dalton Cook and Eli Floyd give Salem more senior depth. Dillon Broyles is back at Salem after playing there his freshman year, then moving to Arizona. Juniors Lawson Toman, Cody Rictor and Nate Bray will also contend for varsity playing time. “This year’s team will be all about offensive balance and defensive rebounding,” Prugh said. Ava has a new coach who’s a familiar face to SCA fans. Mike Mallow comes over from Willow Springs to take the lead of an Ava team that went 5-18 and won only one SCA game. Ava’s lone graduate was post player Austin Potts (3.3 PPG, 3.3 RPG). Ava returns its top player and leading scorer in 6’5” senior Anthony Rosas, who averaged 13.1 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. Mallow plans to play Rosas in the post to give Ava an inside presence. Besides Rosas, Ava also has three other returning starters in seniors Colton Skyles (who received SCA honorable mention last year) and John Paul Lazorchak,
along with athletic sophomore Caleb Johnson. “We have several other younger players looking to step in, but no one has secured a spot as of yet,” Mallow said. Willow Springs’ new coach is alum Ryan Bunch. Bunch has spent the last nine years as a junior varsity and freshman coach at his alma mater. The Bears went 9-17 last season but return a veteran cast of five seniors and seven juniors competing for playing time. Senior Ty Durnell will run the team at point guard. Kobe Coatney, another senior, is a versatile guard who can shoot and play multiple positions. Ethan Graves (6’1”) brings hustle and defense while Ben Wake is an athletic ball-handler who can get to the basket. Willow Springs returns its top scorer in junior Bryce Duddridge, who’s poised to reach 1,000 career points this season. He averaged about 16 points, five rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.5 steals per game as a sophomore and already owns multiple Willow Springs program records. Landon Rodgers (9.4 PPG, 3.8 RPG) gives Willow Springs a post presence. Sam Chaney is a versatile forward who averaged 6.2 points and 3.5 rebounds per game as a sophomore. “Our goals for the season are to win the conference and district,” Bunch said. “In order to do this, we have to have good attitudes, come to practice ready to work and get better each and every day. If we do these things, we should be playing our best basketball come districts.” Houston lured Rod Gorman out of retirement to coach its boys’ basketball team. The longtime Rogersville coach (20 years) takes over a program that’s won 27 combined games over the past six seasons. Houston graduated seven seniors from a team that finished 5-20. The lone returning starter is senior Lucas Kelley, a 6’1” guard who can run the point and provides defense. From there, starting positions and playing time are up for grabs. “Our goals and expectations are to approach the next game as the next important game and to be as competitive as we can in each of those games,” Gorman said. “Of course, we will try to win, but we aren’t playing for the end of the year, we aren’t playing for next year, we’re playing to just try to get better every game and to see if we can be competitive against people who don’t think we’ll be competitive against them.”
Is any SCA team ready to end Salem’s reign atop the league? Salem has the biggest enrollment in the SCA and the Lady Tigers have performed like a true heavyweight the last two seasons. In 2015-16, Salem repeated as SCA champions and clinched its first 20-win season in almost a decade. Bad news for SCA teams: Salem has everyone coming back this season. Salem posted a 22-5 record in 2015-16 without a senior on the team. Seven seasoned varsity players are back as the Tigers aim for a postseason push and an elusive district title. It starts with senior Payton Curley, who’s 300 points away from reaching the 1,500 mark for her career. She averaged more than 20 points per game last season. Salem also boasts the top post player in the conference in junior center Baylee Bilyeu. The 6’3” Bilyeu comes off a sophomore season in which she averaged about 10 points and six rebounds per game while shooting 57 percent from the field. Along with Curley, Kari Hatridge (6.6 PPG), Kaleigh Nash (6.1 PPG), Kara Powell, Shelby Carr and Camryn Pryor form a six-player senior class that has been the cornerstone of Salem’s success the past two seasons. The Tigers, however, failed to reach their district title game, losing, 42-38, to Osage in the district semifinals. MV-BT/Liberty suffered a sour end to its 2015-16, losing to No. 6 seed Ava, 56-47, in the Class 3—District 10 quarterfinals. The outcome spoiled an otherwise stellar campaign as Liberty’s 19-8 record marked the best winning percentage (.704) in program history. First-year coach Jeff Atchison has some good pieces to work with. Piper Francis was an instant impact player for the Eagles as a freshman. The multi-sport athlete led Liberty in most categories and set multiple school records as well. Francis, who was first team all-conference, averaged about 21 points, eight rebounds, five assists and four steals per game. She set the school record for scoring in a single season with 560 points and connected on 53 3s to set that school record as well. She’s on pace to reach 1,000-career points in her sophomore season. Senior center Jaci Mantel is another impact player for the Eagles. She averaged 15 points, 7.5 rebounds and four assists per game in earning second-team All-SCA honors. Juniors Madison and Marissa Berry are identical twins who had roughly the same stat line per game last year: 10.0 PPG, 2.0 APG, 3.0 SPG, 5.5 RPG. Liberty will also get contributions from the likes of returning sophomores Trinity Clark and Kamryn Gastineau, who saw steady varsity time as reserves last season. Houston comes off a historic season but will have a new coach at the helm. The Red and Black Tigers topped Willow Springs for the Class 3—District 10 crown, earning the second district title in program history and first since 2004.
Veteran coach Brent Kell retired following the 2015-16 season after three decades at the school. The new man at the helm is Houston High School alum Jim Moore. He’s won district titles at Fair Grove and Carthage and most recently coached at Aurora. Houston graduated a four-player senior class led by Sarah Kelley, a 5’11” forward who averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds per game. Speedy point guard Abby Casper will drive Houston’s success this season. She averaged nine points and three steals per game last season and has worked to improve her outside shooting, Moore said. Senior forward Jaydin Ramsey offers versatility. She averaged eight points and three rebounds per game as a junior. Houston will also look to forward Alyssa Hayes and guard Stephani Crewse for contributions. Kaitlin Root came on in the latter-half of the 2016 season to lead Houston in rebounding down the stretch while averaging seven points per game. Guards Chloe Hunninghake and Carly Crawford round out Houston’s anticipated varsity rotation. Willow Springs is pushing for a return trip to the district title game and more under eighth-year coach DJ Gutscher. The Bears (17-12) lost 47-34 to Houston in the 2016 Class 3—District 10 finals. Willow Springs brings back most of its varsity lineup this season, but its lone graduate—Beth Sherbo—was a key player. Her 1,111 career points rank sixth on Willow Springs’ all-time scoring list. Willow Springs otherwise returns a cast of seasoned players, including senior Grace Bailey (4.4 PPG, 4.7 RPG) and junior Devin Perkins (8.7 PPG, 5 RPG; second team All-SCA). Senior Kayla Cox brings a defense-first attitude to the team. Junior Kianna Rothermich is Willow Springs’ top returning scorer after averaging 11.5 points per game. Liliya Dudko is another returning junior who is athletic and defends in the post and on the perimeter. Shyanne Figley should see an increased role after averaging 3.5 points per game as a freshman. Sydney Miller, Madison Porter and newcomer Alexa Fredrick round-out a deep sophomore class for the Bears. Ava has a new face at the helm as Nathan Houk moves from the assistant’s chair to the head coach’s spot in place of Steve Sanders. The Bears graduated three key varsity players from a 10-win team: leading scorer and All-SCA selection Jacey Swofford, All-SCA honorable mention post player Hope Evans and defensive leader Bailey Loge. Ava has an overall young roster. Two starters are back in guards Ashton Bewley and Kiaunna Snow, who both played as freshmen last season. Also returning for the Lady Bears are juniors Kaylee Evans, Sierra Boatman and Hailey Peterson, along with sophomores Lauren Mendel and Araina Evans. Kaylee Evans will provide range from the outside and
will be asked to do more offensively and defensively. Boatman is coming back from a knee injury but is expected to provide more depth as a ball handler and offensive threat. Houk can also look forward to senior Emily Guengerich coming back from an injury that caused her to miss all of last season. Being so guard-heavy this season, Houk anticipates a completely different style of play from last year. Thayer also welcomes a new coach in Cecil Meyer. The Bobcats were 10-16 last season but won four conference games and return four starters to the floor. Sophomore guard Julie Stone earned all-conference honors as a freshmen. She led Thayer in most statistical categories last season, including scoring. Also returning for the Lady Bobcats are seniors McKale Ary, Grayce Moore and Kyla Crawford, juniors Mikayla Allen, April Earls and August Earls, and sophomore Angela Sorrell. Ary, Moore and Sorrell, along with Stone, were starters last year and are expected to bring some important leadership traits to the team. Some newcomers to the squad will allow Meyer some flexibility when his team gets in foul trouble, including senior Caity Coursey and junior Taylor Madden. Change is ahead for Cabool. The Bulldogs graduated all five starters from a team that went 9-15. Senior Alyssa Matherly was a main ball-handler last year and will return as an experienced point guard. Junior Kaitlen Beller averaged just over four rebounds per game last year and will be asked to be the main post presence this year. Kaila Shannon returns as a senior guard who runs the floor well and is tough on defense. Two newcomers, Joelle Atkins and Katlynn Ellison, will round out the starters. Mountain Grove looks to turn the page following a 2-23 season. Mountain Grove’s lone win against a varsity team came over Cabool on the Panthers’ senior night, 50-47. Mountain Grove graduated only one senior in Mary Pursell, who had 23 points in the team’s victory over Cabool. The team has a new coach in Vallie Rogers-Hoerning, a MGHS alum who went on to play at SBU. Mountain Grove’s roster will once again list Kacey Watson, an SCA Honorable Mention player last year who competed in only 11 games due to a knee injury to start the season. Makenzie Gardner is a transfer from Dora who figures to contribute right away. The 5’10” senior averaged 11.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, two assists, and 2.6 steals per game in her junior season at Dora. Some newcomers to the roster include the senior trio of Rachel Loughridge, Katie Wolter and 6-footer Ashton Albrecht along with sophomore Kinley Collins. Tommi Gardener, sister to Makenzie and another move-in from Dora, will play forward.
Head Coach: Luke Brosius 2015-16 Record: 22-6
Head Coach: Dan Jones 2015-16 Record: 18-8
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Clever returns one of the top players in the area in senior Jakob Partee. Partee, who was named the SWCL MVP as a junior, averaged 19.8 points per game last season. He shot 55 percent from the field and 41 percent from beyond the arc. • Devan Hampton is also back for the Blue Jays. Hampton was honorable mention in the SWCL last year as a sophomore after shooting a blistering 57 percent from the field and averaging 7.5 points per game. • Two sets of twins will make up a large part of the rest of the rotation with Derek and Jared Sopok along with Mark and Matt Christoffer. • Sharpshooting Glendale transfer Caleb Peck will battle for minutes right away. Peck was one of the top jayvee players for the Falcons last season. • Bailey Hedgpeth, who averaged a double-double on JV last year, will be in the mix for minutes. Tyler Deepe and Mason Wilson will also fight to round out the rotation. • Clever was the top seed heading into districts last year but fell in the semifinals to Conway. That district remains largely unchanged with Ash Grove, Buffalo, Fair Grove, Catholic and Strafford all back. Forsyth and Hollister are new to the district this year.
• Clever improved by 10 wins last year thanks in large part to star sophomore Harper Little’s efforts. Little was a first-team all-conference selection last year as a freshman, and deservedly so. She played in every game and led her team in several categories, including: 14.3 PPG, 2.7 APG, 1.4 BPG and 4.2 SPG. • All-SWCL senior guard Hannah Maples is back for the Lady Blue Jays. Maples was the second-leading scorer behind Little with 13.6 points per contest. If Maples keeps her scoring pace, she will easily eclipse the 1,000-career point mark in 2016-17. • Madison Newman, Taylor Menzies and Emily Mendenhall round out the senior class with Maples. • A crop of talented underclassmen should see time with the varsity this season. Sophomores Abi Menzies, Tessa Newman and Ashten Graff each contributed on the varsity level last year, and look for freshman Allie Clevenger to have a significant impact this year. • Clever fell in the first round of district play last year. Hollister and Forsyth join the district this season, but all of the other teams remain the same.
Coach Luke Brosius on Jakob Partee: “He is a kid that we feel like every night can go out and get us 20 [points]. He is the guy we look to any time we need a basket. We have a lot of confidence in him. Almost every time he shoots you feel like it is going in or it has a great shot to go in. He has a really good shot for a kid with some height.”
Coach Dan Jones on Clever’s district: “Of course our district is not a pushover. Catholic will come back much improved and we have Fair Grove who usually just reloads as well. Ash Grove and Buffalo will not be pushovers either, so getting out of our district any year is always going to be a tough thing to do. I feel like we are up to the task and will be in contention come playoff time.”
11/28-12/3 Clever Tournament
11/28-12/2 @ Fair Grove Tournament
12/9 @ Strafford
12/8 vs. Strafford
1/17 @ Crane
1/16-21 @ Stockton Tournament
1/26-28 at Nixa Tournament
2/2 @ Crane
2/16 vs. Billings (Senior Night)
2/13 vs. Blue Eye (Senior Night)
2015-16 Record: 20-8 – Class 2 - District 11 Runner-Up
Head Coach: Craig Campbell
Head Coach: Jeremy Mullins 2015-16 Record: 32-1 Class 2 State Champion
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Crane has compiled six 20-win seasons in the past seven years, and this year they are expecting to live up to that standard. • The Pirates went into the district championship as the No. 1 seed, but fell, 44-40, to No. 2 seed Marionville in the district title game. • Tanner Gold is the biggest loss for the team. He averaged 19.1 points, 4.2 assists and 1.9 steals per game to lead the Pirates in all three categories. • Dalton Hayes is the next to take the reins of the Crane offense at the point. He averaged more than 14 points, 2.5 assists and two rebounds per game as a junior. • Senior Deven White will be a good pairing for Hayes down low. White, who is 6’4”, averaged 5.9 points and a team-high 5.1 rebounds per game in 201516. • Joining White in the paint will be the quartet of Colton Elder (5’11” junior), Bryston Branstetter (5’9” sophomore), Eli Stock (5’11” junior) and Hunter Brantley (6’2” senior) • Hayes will get help on the perimeter from juniors Wyatt Vaught, Braydon Cook and Brent Williams. • There are several changes to Crane’s district this year. Billings, Galena, Blue Eye and Marionville remain. Greenwood, Morrisville and Spokane are out. Those three are replaced by Miller, School of the Ozarks and Verona.
• It will be a rebuilding year for the Crane Lady Pirates after graduating a senior class that went 123-7 and won four state championships in their careers. • Lexie Vaught, Emma Lander, Shelby Roder, Kylee Moore, Justine Mahan and Keren Belin will go down as the most decorated senior group in Crane history. Those six combined for 77 percent of the scoring, 53 percent of the rebounding and 85 percent of assists last season. • Leading the charge will be the lone returning starter in senior Madison Fulp, who stepped into the starting lineup in the wake of an injury to Lander last year. Fulp averaged 8.3 points and 5.2 rebounds per game as a junior. She was second on the team in rebounding for the season behind Class 2 Player of the Year Lexie Vaught. • Madison Hicks and Olivia Doto saw time in at least 20 games each as freshmen and will expand their roles greatly this year. • Maggie Vaught is the team’s lone junior and will be called upon to run the point after seeing action in 20 games last season. • Crane has a strong class of sophomores that also includes Mackinzie Funcannon, Sadie McMenamy, Olivia Edwards, Macy Hayes, and Katie Robinson in addition to Hicks and Doto. • Crane has revamped its schedule including leaving the Stephanie Phillips Classic at Kickapoo and the Pink & White Lady Classic.
Coach Craig Campbell’s on this season’s goals: “This team has the goal of winning a district championship. Losing last year by four points, in a game we did not play to our potential in, left a bad taste. The goal is to improve every day, trying to play at our best come end of the season. A few other goals are to go after the SWCL league title along with competing every night, no matter what size our competition.”
Head Coach Jeremy Mullins on this year’s expectations: “This season the Crane Lady Pirates will feature a lot of new faces. While the faces are new the expectations from the coaches will not be. The Crane Lady Pirates will be expected to play defense and give their all night in and night out.”
11/22 vs. Ash Grove
11/21 vs. Berryville
11/28-12/3 @ Pierce City Tournament
12/12 @ Walnut Grove
12/9 vs. Walnut Grove
12/27-29 @ Berryville Tournament
1/23-28 Crane Tournament
1/16-21 @ Marionville Tournament
2/17 vs. Galena (Senior Night)
2/13 vs. Sparta (Senior Night)
In a league dominated by Clever and Crane in recent years, can a new team emerge and alter the picture of the SWCL boys’ race? and Bryce Mann. “Trey and Bryce are the shooting duo for us,” Hart said. “Both will be looked to shoot anytime they touch the ball with space. They have had several games in the past where they have hit multiple threes in a single game.” Juniors James Kohn—the other returning letterman for Forsyth—and Anthony Stanford bring physicality and toughness to the court.
Billings is now five years removed from winning a state title. Veteran coach Kendall Tilley, now in his 10th season at the school, has a young group to work with this winter. The Wildcats graduated two of their top players in Kaleb Clinton and Kyle Kimberling. Billings was 12-14 last season but showed progress late in the campaign. Billings figures to have some scoring balance, with four players returning who all averaged between five and 10 points per game last season. Junior Luke Johnson (10.4 PPG) led the team in field goal percentage. Another junior, Jacob Smith (7.2 PPG), had the best 3-point shooting percentage on the team. Senior Wyatt Wilson, who averaged nearly six points per game, along with promising sophomore Tyler Essick (9.8 PPG), will also be counted upon by Tilley. “We are a small team and will need to use our quickness to make up for that,” Tilley said. “We will be competitive and hopefully surprise a few teams.” Forsyth was hit hard by graduation on a team that finished 16-11. The biggest losses were Jett Schanda, who led the team in scoring and assists, and Risten Grady, an athletic post player who averaged nearly seven blocks per game. The Panthers expect their two returning starters, senior Chase Davidson and Micaiah Rocha, who was an all-conference recipient a season ago, to step up take on a leadership role for the team. Along with Davidson and Rocha, two of the three returning lettermen for the Panthers are seniors Trey Henson 98
Blue Eye had very little, if any, varsity experience at the start of last season. The tables have turned a bit heading into 2016-17 as coach Kyle Turner and the Bulldogs welcome back several familiar faces to a team that finished 13-12 a season ago. Tanner Snowden and Sebastiano Frandino graduated, but the Bulldogs do have one of the top sophomores in the area back in Andrew Mitchell. He averaged nearly 18 points and seven rebounds per game to lead Blue Eye. Junior Ryan Reagan will run the point guard position once again for the Bulldogs. Averaging 12.2 points and 4.2 assists per game last season, Reagan will serve as a dangerous scoring option outside of Mitchell. Jacob Porter (4.4 PPG, 4.0 RPG), one of three seniors on the roster, will utilize his leadership skills while expanding his offensive role. Galena struggled to an 8-18 record last season, but better days may be ahead for the Bears and coach Derek Wilson. A six-player senior class will lead the Bears this season. It starts with post Cameron Caulfield, who averaged about 12 points and five rebounds. Caleb Hall (9.8 PPG, 4.9 APG) will run the offense at point guard. Senior Blake Batson (4.5 PPG, 3.2 RPG) is Galena’s tallest player at 6’4”, but he’s also capable of stepping out and hitting perimeter shots to keep a defense honest. Caleb Seaman (7.2 PPG), Logan Stewart (1.3 PPG) and Dallas Besperat (2.4 PPG) round-out the strong senior core for Wilson’s team. Juniors Austin Holt and Jacob O’Neil, and sophomore Luke Burk, seek to complement some of the primary scorers and add depth. “The thing that excites me most about our season this year is the talent I have with my players,” Wilson said. “This group works well together and is willing to sacrifice for the better of the team. [They’ve] been together from elementary school and play well off each other.” Sparta’s posted consecutive 18-win seasons, but the Trojans are faced with replacing a big part of their team following the graduation of Collin Gimlin, who led the team in scoring and rebounding. Sparta will lean on the senior tandem of Landon Davis
and Logan Rutherford. Davis averaged more than 18 points per game and is less than 100 points away from reaching 1,000 for his career. Rutherford gives the team a presence on the inside. He was the team’s second-leading rebounder a season ago. The Trojans also return Jade Perez, who came off the bench last season and is expected to play a much bigger role for Sparta. Senior Braxton Lilly and junior Wade Little will be a pair of new names in the regular varsity rotation this year. Sparta also expects newcomers like juniors Josh Smith and Kolbie Dorman, along with sophomore Collin Teague and freshman Dakota Lafferty, to push for varsity playing time. “Our weakness will be lack of size, so we are hoping our strength with playing four guards at times will be our quickness,” said Sparta coach Larry Brown.. Spokane comes off an 8-17 season and has a new coach in Kyle Johnson. Three graduated starters must be replaced in Storm Price, Cody Terrell and Mark Moran. Price was the team’s leading scorer and a deadly outside shooter. Three starters return in Isaiah Bean, Clayton Moore and Jack Rigdon. Other returnees include Chase Horton, Chandler Brown and Johnathan Hruska. Bean started all 25 games as a freshman last season. Rigdon can play multiple positions on the court. Horton is expected to run the offense at point guard.
Is there an SWCL team besides Clever who could also threaten Crane’s reign atop the league Lumley and Davidson trio, Forsyth will also have seniors Peyton Gillman and Shyanne Baker, junior Karissa Chambers and sophomores Hannah Sullenger and Brooklyn Romine competing for minutes. Varsity newcomers that could factor into Forsyth’s playing rotation include sophomore Kyndra Drake and Hailey McPherson. Emily Shipman and Kenlee Nuss are a pair of freshmen with athletic upside. Overall, Rogers knows the schedule and the SWCL conference will both be tough this year, but she also believes her team’s experience and talent are up to the task. “Our schedule will certainly be tougher this year,” Rogers said. “We have added another tournament. We already play some tough teams and so many teams from last year are adding more experience and more depth.”
Spokane will be a factor in the league title race. The Owls return four starters from a team that won 22 of 29 games and lost to eventual state champion Crane in the district finals. Gone are seniors Sabrina Lator and Lizzie Jordan, but Spokane returns eight overall letter-winners. They include seniors Meghan Robertson, Rachelle McMurray and Lacee Kootz and juniors Kaylee Armitage, Casey Wallace, Karly Murray and Taylor Riott. Robertson and Wallace return after earning all-conference, all-district nods last season. Newcomers looking for playing time include Paige Tate and Makaela McClure. “I expect this team to step up and take the next step forward,” said Spokane coach Doug Hepler. “[I expect them] to be hungry to compete and leave a legacy for future Owl teams to strive for.” Forsyth brings back a lot of talent from a team that finished 14-11 last season. A pair of all-conference seniors lead the way in Lacey Moore and Maycee Lumley. Moore averaged 15.2 points per game in 2015-16 while Lumley was right behind her at 13.4 points per game. Along with Moore and Lumley returning, leading rebounder Ashton Davidson is also back this season after averaging nine rebounds per game. The Panthers graduated seniors Kileigh Michel and Kenna Stuart, so third-year coach Mandy Rogers is looking to a number of players to fill out Forsyth’s depth. Eight lettermen return overall. In addition to the Moore,
Sparta hopes for a fresh start in 2016-17 following a forgettable season (3-22) that saw the Trojans struggle with only six available varsity players. First-year coach Joshua Loveland will have four players who were regular starters a year ago to utilize: seniors Breann Anderson and Genesis McTeer, junior Liz Yeager and sophomore Tiffany Lafferty. Anderson is a forward who does the dirty work around the basket, while McTeer is a post player with a solid midrange game. Yeager is a dangerous 3-point shooter when given an open look. A big freshman class is expected to compete on varsity right away for Sparta, including Jadrien Hyatt, Maggie Brown, Kamryn Gilley, Alyssa Diers and Elyssa Tate. “We are going to be young,” Loveland said. “However, we are going to be pretty quick, going to get after people and then push it up the floor in transition.” Blue Eye went 12-13 last season with a rather young roster. Veteran coach Ken Elfrink expects the Bulldogs to again have a young group on the court this winter. Jaden Box (3.0 PPG) is expected to be the lone senior returnee but brings leadership to the team. A lot of Blue Eye’s scoring will come from sophomore Kenedi Larson, who burst onto the scene last year by putting up 11.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. Junior Katelynn Hansen, along with sophomores Kenzie Hobbs (another freshman starter last season), Ayshia Bettlach and Hope Smith, will also log some key minutes on the court in crucial situations. Galena has talent at all four grade levels under second-year coach Mark Vert, but the Bears have a big scoring trio to replace. Dallas Howard (11.4 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 5.4 SPG), LeAnne Sansoucie (7.8 PPG, 4.0 RPG) and Rachel Harding
(10.7 PPG, 2.4 APG), all of whom played pivotal roles in their respective careers for Galena, have moved on, leaving the team in new hands. Galena will look toward the senior tandem of Ashlee Greenway and Alison Stephens for success. Greenway is a capable 3-point shooter and Stephens provides leadership. Galena’s top returning scorer is junior Megan Caulfield. She averaged nearly 12 points per game last season. “[Caulfield] has grown as a player with a better understanding of how hard she has to work within our system and in her understanding of her own abilities,” Vert said. “She must improve her consistency in every offensive category for us to have a great year.” Two additional juniors, a sophomore and five freshmen round-out Galena’s varsity roster. Billings, which was unable to find enough players to field a team for the 2014-15 season, returned to the court last season but struggled to a 2-24 record. The good news is, Billings didn’t have a senior last season, so its entire varsity team, plus some promising newcomers, returns. Sophomore Elizabeth Gearing had a strong freshman season, leading the team with 10 points per game. Gearing is joined by six other sophomores this season including Republic-transfer Taylor Painter, a guard who possesses commendable scoring and ball-handling abilities.
Head Coach: Darin Meinders 2015-16 Record: 30-3 • Class 1 State Runner-up
Head Coach: Rory Henry 2015-16 Record: 23-10 • Class 1 Third Place
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Walnut Grove marched the Class 1 state title game before falling to Stanberry, 69-49. • Senior leader and Class 1 Player of the Year Dallas Meinders is gone and so are his 16.8 points per game and team-high 119 assists. Meinders poured in 35 of Walnut Grove’s 49 points in the state title game. • Logan Thomazin does return for the Tigers. The sharp-shooting junior averaged 24 points per game as a sophomore to lead the team. He knocked down 139 three-point shots as well. No other Tiger had more than 33 makes from three. He also led Walnut Grove in rebounding with 6.1 per game. • Seniors Jaron Dishman, Kyle Keith and Hayden Jeffryes, juniors Hunter Gilkey and Cory Countryman and sophomore Ryan Keith will have to work together to replace Meinders’ production. • Dishman averaged 6.3 points per game as a junior while shooting 53 percent from the field. • Gilkey was the third-leading scorer last season at 7.9 points per game. He was second in rebounding at 5.3 per game. • Countryman (4.1 points per game) and Ryan Keith (4.1 PPG) will also have to increase their scoring this season.
• Walnut Grove returned to the Class 1 state tournament for the fifth consecutive year and came up just short of a fourth straight state title. • The Lady Tigers return the entire team led by Class 1’s best one-two tandem in Junior Bayley Harman and senior Raylie Hejna • Harman led Walnut Grove with 20.1 points per game and 5.4 assists per game. She was second on the team with 7.1 rebounds per game. • Hejna averaged 16 points and a team-high 7.9 rebounds per game. She also shot 60.6 percent from the field. • Grace McPhail returns for her sophomore season after putting up 6.7 points per game. McPhail also distributed the ball well with 107 total assists as a freshman. • Taylor Dodson was second on the team as a freshman with 37 total three-point makes as she averaged 4.3 points per game. • Grace Miller, Myranda McVey, Aspen White, Kylee Verbeck and Trinity Gentry return also return to a roster looking for another trip to the Final Four. • Coach Rory Henry is just 14 wins away from his 200th career win at Walnut Grove. His record currently stands at 186-33.
Coach Darin Meinders on his expectations for his team: “With the players we have returning, we feel that we have a chance to compete for the conference, as well as the district championship. Last year, we just fell short of a state title, and we are hungry and focused on getting back. Our goal is the same every year, and that is to be playing late in March.”
Coach Rory Henry on the maturation of his team: “I think our team is more mature this year. We talk about the process, what it takes to get there and what it takes to be successful. We work on that every day. They do know that we look to the next game, the next play. ‘Play present’--that’s the phrase we use often. I’m excited about this group coming back. We have high expectations and are excited to start.”
12/6 @ Greenfield 12/9 @ Crane 1/3 @ Rogersville 1/6 @ Hermitage
12/12 vs. Crane 12/15 vs. Wheatland 1/6 @ Hermitage 2/6-11 at Seymour Tournament
2/14 @ Fair Play
2/14 @ Fair Play
Polk County League teams will be gunning for the 2016 Class 1 state runner-ups, but Walnut Grove appears poised to retain its league crown in 2016-17. 2015-16, averaging over 12 points per game. He was named second team All-PCL. Ryan Rutledge is Fair Play’s third returning senior and double-figure scorer (11.5 PPG). “I think we will be much better this year because we will be a more experienced team,” said Fair Play coach Lynn Long. “We should have much more depth, which will allow us to play at a much faster tempo and put more pressure on the other team when on defense.”
Hermitage returns three starters from a 22-win team that fell five points shy of a district championship. The Hornets graduated five lettermen, including starters Cory Nicholson and Robert Ideker. The Hornets return a veteran group of lettermen, including starters Austin Hostettler, Dylan Meyer and Jeff Salmon. Hostettler, a 6’2” senior, and the Hornets’ player of the year last season, will be counted on heavily this year. The team captain was a standout in the post and on defense. He was a first-team all-district and second-team All-PCL selection last season. Meyer, a 6’1” senior, surpassed the 1,000-point mark last season and is a threat from the 3-point line. He also added an honorable-mention all-district and second-team All-PCL selection to his resume. Salmon, a 6-foot senior point guard, came on for the Hornets last season, earning second-team all-district and All-PCL honors. Darek Reeves is a 5’9” senior who Nicholson describes as a great defensive player. Nicholson said Reeves could fill the role vacated by Long. The remaining returnees are all juniors: Leif Griffin, 6’5”; Jesse Strousse, 6-foot; Alex Aubuchon, 5’10”; and Easton Sabala 5’7”. “We have played the same system the last four years,” Nicholson said. “This is my fourth year at Hermitage and the first year that everybody on the roster will be familiar with the system. Defensively, we will play a hard-nosed, full-court man-to-man press. Offensively, we play up-tempo and will fast break as much as we possibly can. If teams try to slow us down, we’ll be in great shape in the half-court.” Fair Play figures to give Walnut Grove and Hermitage a run for their money. The Hornets welcome back four starters from a 19-11 team. Senior Camden Welch is one of the conference’s premier players. He averaged about 21 points-per-game and has 1,190 career points. Devon Rovenstine was Fair Play’s second-leading scorer in
Weaubleau comes off a district championship, beating Hermitage in the Class 1—District 6 title game. Gone from last season’s district champion are forward Kaleb Minica, guard Rhett Burkhart and guard/forward Gatlin Freeman. Minica, who averaged 19 points and 16 rebounds per game, was an MBCA All-State First-Team selection, as well as a firstteam pick on all-district and All-Polk County League. Freeman was a second-team pick for all-district and All-PCL, while Burkhart was honorable mention all-district and All-PCL. The Tigers will be young this season, returning only one senior letterman–5’10” forward Thomas Queen. The Tigers’ returning starters are sophomores Cameron Ott and Chase Ratliff. Ott, a 5’10” guard who coach Matt Johnson describes as a super-quick guard who handles the ball well, averaged 6.6 points, four rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.3 steals per game, while the 5’7” guard Ratliff averaged 4.6 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists and one steal. The Tigers’ other returning lettermen include Chris Ritter, a 6’2” junior who could be an inside-out threat, and Paden Harryman, a 5’9” junior. Wheatland may be poised to make a jump in the PCL race. The Mules went 11-16 overall and 2-5 in league play in 201516, but return all five starters and seven lettermen overall. Senior Zac Sutt leads the way. The first-team all-conference selection tallied over 25 points per game to lead the Mules. Wheatland boasts height in the form of 6’4” junior Devin Koening (7.6 PPG, 4.9 RPG) and 6’3” junior Tristen Shaddox (5.9 PPG, 6.5 RPG). Hunter Jones was Wheatland’s second-leading scorer, averaging 12.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. Bailey Jones, Mitch Bigham and Devin Shields give Wheatland depth in the backcourt. Shaddox had a breakout second half of the season, averaging nearly a double-double (points-rebounds) per game, and Koenig is expected to be a dominant inside post player. Shields will be counted on to come off the bench and provide valuable minutes. Humansville finished 11-14 overall last season and has some retooling to do with its lineup after losing three seniors to graduation and a sophomore to a move-out. Point guard Dominic Lee, along with Hayden and Hunter Fogler, will be missed. Altogether, the team loses 40 points per game from last year’s squad and will look to three experienced upperclassmen to fill the gap. Senior Dalton Wendleton will put up much-needed points for the Humansville offense. Dustin Shoemaker, a standout cross country and track athlete, brings defense to the floor. Junior Isaac
Martino brings shooting and ball-handling. Hunter Swearingin, an all-state pitcher, will join the basketball team this winter and brings much-needed athleticism. Dadeville is aiming for steady improvement in Curtis Collins’ second season. The Bearcats went 4-22 overall and were winless in league play last season with a young roster. Zeb Medley was the lone graduation loss and provided defense and rebounding. Jarrett Sappington and Teddy McMasters are the top returning starters for Dadeville this season. Sappington averaged 13 points and three assists per game last season. McMasters, an All-Polk County League Second Team honoree, averaged 16 points and eight rebounds per game. Wyatt Sneed is the third senior who will add instant production, along with junior guard Skylor Horton. Collins said Horton is a skilled shooter and reliable from the free-throw line. Sophomore Will Toler will start for the Bearcats as a perimeter player who can play multiple positions. Halfway is hungry to bounce-back from a three-win season that saw it beat Dadeville for its lone conference victory. The Cardinals must replace graduated guards Shawn Gumm and Devin Dickerson. Gumm led the team in scoring and assists while Dickerson was a top defender. Justin Rovenstine, a 5’11” senior forward, is Halfway’s top returning scorer and rebounder (8.6 PPG, 4.3 RPG). Senior forward Nate Porter averaged 4.6 points and 3.3 rebounds per game and is capable of being a defensive anchor, coach Chandler Saultz said. Many sophomores will see the floor for Halfway, including: Caleb Gallivan (7.8 PPG), Ben Barham (4.0 PPG), Dallas Dodd and Kody Agee. Freshmen Tyler Terrel and Nehmiah Porter are also in contention for playing time.
The girls’ side of the Polk County League has been dominated by one team in the 2010s: Walnut Grove. Who will look to slide in behind the Lady Tigers? comers are freshmen Aleah Asare and Isabella Williams. Wheatland coach Jeremiah Bryan expects an immediate impact from the 5’8” Asare. She averaged 25 points and five steals per game last season as a Wheatland eighth-grader.
Hermitage should be a contender in the PCL race again, after going 22-6 last season and reaching its district title game. The Hornets’ biggest loss was All-PCL selection Cheyanna Jennings, who provided inside scoring and rebounding. Four starters otherwise return, led by all-conference performers Sadi Hostettler and Sheridan Corum. Hostettler averaged about 13 points, eight rebounds and three assists per game. Corum (14.9 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 3.1 APG) provides shooting and defense. Hermitage returns a number of experienced varsity players, including: Alyssa Owens (6.1 PPG, 6.7 RPG), Anna Ginnings, Emily Christian, Lindsey Smith and Nicole Bell. Freshman Makayla Hostettler (5’8”), the younger sister of Sadi, could also see varsity time. Wheatland denied Hermitage in the district finals a season ago, and the Mules are in position to make a postseason push again this winter. Four starters are back on the court for Wheatland following a banner season. Wheatland tied the school record for single-season wins (22) and set the mark for winning percentage (.758). Wheatland returns its top two scorers in sophomore Madi Sutt (20 PPG, 9.4 RPG) and Gracie Fatino (16.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG). They’re joined by returning starters Ashley Horton (11.9 PPG, 8.3 RPG) and McKinsey Bryan (3.6 PPG). Wheatland’s other returning letter-winners are junior Katlin Pickens and sophomore Emily Osborn. NewO-Zone Magazine
Weaubleau brings in a new coach in Charley Dryer. He’ll have some talent to work with as Weaubleau returns three starters, led by top-scorer and sophomore Jenna Ratliff (14.0 PPG). MaKenna Arthurs added nearly nine points per game while junior Jerika Vanderford is a versatile player and perhaps the best athlete on the team. Other returning letterwinners include 5’7” sophomore Danni Stewart, who Dryer expects to be a major offensive threat; junior Autumn Potter, freshman Keri Reed and 5’5” junior Hollie Farmer. Newcomers include 5’9” sophomore Megan Flagg, who did not play last season but should give the Tigers a post presence. Also back with the team is sophomore Kierra Gannaway. “We have the pieces here to be very successful. I feel it depends on the early sessions, how fast we can fix the basics and get the team concepts in,” Dryer said. “If we are focused and ready to work together, this could be a very special season.” Fair Play gave Walnut Grove a big scare in districts, playing the Tigers to a four-point loss in the semifinals. Second-year Fair Play coach Alicia Mercer welcomes back a pair of inside anchors in twins Maysee and Paige Harman. Expect the duo to lead Fair Play in scoring and rebounding as the young Hornets adjust to a new-look lineup. Fair Play graduated point guard Anna Reaves and a quality defender in Miranda Lightfoot. Fair Play is also moving up from Class 1 to Class 2. The Hornets will be the only PCL team playing at the Class 2 level. Halfway aims for continued improvement under third-year coach Chandler Saultz. The Cardinals won nine games in 2014-15 and reached 15 wins last season. The Cardinals lost guard Ashlee Spear, forward Sarah Hensley and center Emma Brand to graduation. Spears was the team’s second-leading scorer and best overall shooter. Halfway does return 5’5” junior guard Rylee Stokes, who averaged nearly 10 points per game. Point guard Michaela Higginbotham chipped in about eight points per game, while Clarrisa Haun (7.3 PPG, 3.6 RPG) and Sa-
mantha Mayfield (2.1 PPG, 3.2 RPG) return to the post. Halfway is eager for the return of Nichole Hosiner, who played in only 12 games last season due to injury. Dadeville hopes for better nights in 2016-17 after posting a 4-20 record last season with a very young roster. Junior Ashton Neeley will be the point guard and is a capable shooter from the perimeter. Joining Neeley will be a strong group of sophomores, including last season’s leading scorer, Lexi Lakey. Cecilia Miller, Macey Sappington and Abby Sappington are part of the sophomore class that forms the nucleus of Dadeville. Macey Sappington was the team’s second-leading scorer. Marley Brannon is the team’s lone senior and contributes with her rebounding. Freshmen that could see minutes include Lexi Goodman, Saedee Sherwood and Sam Melton. Humansville has a new coach in Gerald Knight. He was at Drexel from 2011-2016 and has an overall career record of 100-60. Humansville didn’t have any seniors on last season’s team that finished 5-20 overall. Lily White was a second team All-PCL selection as a sophomore. She’s joined by junior Betty Stafford. “Our strengths will be on the defensive end,” Knight said. “What we’ve worked on improving in the offseason is competing for four quarters and defense.”
Head Coach: Brett Reed 2015-16 Record: 29-4 – Class 2 State Champion
Head Coach: Mike Percival 2015-16 Record: 22-4
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Hartville won the program’s first state championship last season. • The Eagles have some big graduation holes to fill in Class 2 Player of the Year Ryan Ward and Grant Dedmon. • Deric Jones and Dune Piper return as the key players for Hartville. Jones averaged 16 points, eight rebounds, four steals and two assists last season. Piper averaged 10 points, four steals, five assists and four rebounds per game. • Wyatt Ward, who will play shooting guard, averaged five points, one steal, one assist and two rebounds per game. • Hartville also has some size this year in 6’10” junior center Cody Kelley. • Two more players who will be big factors are Jace and Braden Keith. Jace averaged eight points, one steal, one assist and three rebounds. Braden played valuable minutes last season and could be a spot starter or solid sixth man. • Hartville will have an almost entirely new district this year. Plato is the only returning team. The new teams in the district are Fordland, Gainesville, Mansfield, Norwood, Seymour and Sparta.
• Mike Percival returns as the head coach of the Hartville girls. He previously was the head coach from 1997 to 2011. In that time he was 249-129 with a state championship in 2007. He has 355 wins overall as a varsity coach. • Sophomore Sadie Chisum is back after leading the Lady Eagles in scoring as a freshman. She averaged 12.8 points, 3.7 rebounds and had identical averages (2.6) in rebounds and steals. • Emily Chisum, who can play inside and outside, averaged 8.2 points and 3.6 rebounds. • Mallory Hardcastle, who averaged 6.5 points last year, provides a scrappy mentality, while Cheyanne Mullenix should be a perimeter threat after averaging 5.8 points a game. Ashlynne Dickinson gives the team one of its few options in the post. • The team is moving away from playing zone defense and instead adopting man-to-man, the preferred strategy Percival has had for years. • Newcomers include freshmen Grace Culver, Aubrey Hardcastle, Bailey Martin, Katrina Prock, Katie Still and Kelsey Still.
Coach Brett Reed’s thoughts on this year’s team: “I think we have the toughest Class 2 schedule in the state and, I do think that helped us last year. We just need to control what we can control, do little things right. If we do those things, we’ve got a chance.”
Coach Mike Percival on returning as Hartville’s coach: “When I saw the opportunity to go back, I couldn’t pass that up. It took a little while over the summer for them to get the idea of what I wanted to accomplish. But once they did, they took off.”
2016 Class 2 State Champions
11/28-12/3 @ Clever Tournament
11/18 @ Bakersfield
1/3 @ Licking
11/26 vs. Fair Grove (at Cabool)
1/17 @ Nixa
12/5-10 @ Norwood Tournament
1/20 @ Mountain Grove
1/23 vs. Gainesville
2/9@ Walnut Grove
2/13 vs. Conway (Senior Night)
The Summer Conference is home to the defending Class 2 boys’ state champions, Hartville. Safe to say, the Eagles will again have a big target on their back for the 2016-17 season.
Conway has been Hartville’s toughest adversary of late. The Bears finished one win shy of their second straight 20-win season in 2015-16, but Conway had a memorable run in districts. The Bears knocked off No. 1 seed Clever in the Class 3—District 11 semifinals then played Fair Grove to a three-point loss in the title game. Conway will have a lot of changes ahead this winter, though, after graduating all three of its All-Summit Conference players: Andrew Huckaby, Chris Vavruska and Austin Chastain. The Bears will lean on senior guard Tayler Simpson and junior forward Cody Delcour as they implement many new players into the varsity rotation. Simpson, a 5’10” senior, has started since his sophomore season and seen varsity minutes since he was a freshman. Delcour, a 6’2” junior, started last year as a sophomore and also saw a lot of playing time as a freshman for the Bears. Along with Simpson and Delcour, the Bears return two bench players from last year in forward Tanner Pippins and guard Gunnar Berger. “As the season goes along and our newcomers gain confidence and experience, we should be a tough team to beat,” Cope said. “Our ability to be a well-rounded offensive and defensive team will be our focus.” Mansfield figures to be a strong contender in the Summit. The Lions lost by 44 to Hartville in the regular season but won their district and played the Eagles to a 106
10-point loss in a rematch in the Class 2 sectional round. Mansfield welcomes back four starters from a 21-8 team, plus three reserves that were regular varsity contributors. The returning starters are senior point guard Mason Roy, senior guard Jonah Williamson, 6’9” sophomore center/forward Dylan Caruso and 6’4” junior center Trenton Emerick. Roy and Williams are three-year starters, and Roy and Caruso were first-team All-Summit League and all-district last year. Williamson may be undersized for a shooting guard, but he set the program’s single-season record for 3-pointers last year with 76. He averaged 10 points a game. Caruso averaged 12.6 points and 3.3 blocks and brought the thunder in the postseason when he had eight blocks in the second half of the district championship victory against Bakersfield. Mansfield could be formidable in the low blocks. Emerick averaged 4.4 points and 3.8 rebounds last season, and the team anticipates junior Michael Tate, a 6’6” forward/center, to work into the rotation. Fordland certainly could have a say in the Summit Conference and Class 2—District 4 this season. The Eagles return four starters and, rotation-wise, really only need to determine who will be the eighth and final player. It’s a good problem to have after the Eagles finished 16-11 last season, although Fordland was a first-round casualty in its district tournament. The returning starters are Noah Abbasi, Noah Sparks, Corey Sampaio and Hunter Burks. The rest of the rotation includes sophomore point guard Jake Farnsworth, Josh Holmes and Hunter Young. Abbasi, a 6’2” guard, is a threat inside and outside after averaging 18 points and six rebounds a game last season. Sparks averaged 14 points and six rebounds a game last year. Fordland’s two guards, both sophomores, will also be factors. Burks will play the two-guard spot while Farnsworth will handle the point. Burks averaged nine points and eight rebounds a game last season. Farnsworth averaged five points and two assists. Seymour enters its second year guided by Chris Hastings. The Tigers finished 13-13 last season and were a first-round casualty in their district tournament. Senior Cy Yates returns, along with sophomores Justin Herion, Brian Pearce, Eric Helms, Keaton Owens and Brady Brooke. Senior Brock Scott also could come off the bench.
Yates averaged 14 points a game last year, when he shot 33 percent from 3-point range. Herion will move into the point guard role, with Pearce, a lean 6’3” guard, also a key. Herion is effective off the dribble and Pearce is a natural shooter who can shoot over defenders, Hastings said. One key will be Seymour’s style of play with Owens on the floor, given he’s an undersized post player. “We’re not very big at all,” Hastings said. “We can’t let teams can’t walk the ball and get to the post. Defense has to be tremendous so they don’t pick us apart.” Gainesville endured a rebuilding season last winter, just one season removed from posting a 22-6 record, winning a district title (second straight) and reaching the Class 2 state quarterfinals. The Bulldogs record flipped to 6-20 in 2015-16, ending with a 31-point loss to Bakersfield in their district opener. Among the key pieces are two returning starters: junior point guard Brodie Chapman and junior shooting guard Brandon Poe. Chapman averaged 7.1 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists a game last season. Poe averaged 5.5 points, two rebounds and one assist a game and is the team’s best shooter. But because the Bulldogs have a ton of size, the two will need to be solid. If the Bulldogs can get the ball inside to Justin Wallace, look out. Wallace is a hulking, 6’6” junior center—a huge asset in Class 2 basketball. Other notable inside players are two seniors in 6’5” Jeff Donley and 6’2” Kenny Grisham. John Hossman and Garrett Morgan are two sophomores who will contend for minutes It’s a transition season of sorts at Norwood as the Pirates come off a 13-14 campaign. Eight seniors graduated for Norwood, which has the smallest enrollment of any Summit Conference school and is 12 fewer students shy of being a Class 1 program. Collectively, the team will have to find scorers following the graduations of Max Malone and Weston Chadwell, who were both All-Summit. Malone scored 1,109 career points. Returning varsity experience is minimal. The roster features seniors A.J. Barnes and Tyler Pritchard, juniors Tim Thornton and Mason Sawyers and sophomores Hunter Gray, Seth Bradshaw, Owen Butterum, Chance Looney and Mason Page. Zack Baker, a senior, will hope to join the team after recovering from an injury. Heston Gray, a freshman, could see playing time.
It’s shaping up to be a loaded season in the Summit Conference girls’ race, with multiple teams capable of 20-win seasons. Gainesville has been the queen of the Summit Conference the past two seasons, winning 53 combined games, a pair of district titles, and reaching the Class 2 quarterfinals before losing to eventual state champion Crane both times. The Bulldogs will have a different look but should still field a quality product on the court this winter. That’s despite seeing their longtime coach retire and three starters graduate, including Madison Strong, who scored 2,000-career points and was Class 2 All-State. Gainesville has hired former successful Norwood boys’ varsity coach Morris Jenkins, taking over for the retired Jack Harris, and returns an intriguing group of players. Among them: senior guard/forward Michia Jenkins and junior center Annie Noah, an all-state, All-Summit League and all-district selection last year. Noah averaged 7.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, four assists and 1.8 steals per game last season. Jenkins can play the guard-forward swing role after averaging 7.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, two assists and 1.3 steals a game. “(Annie) is a kid who’s unselfish and works hard to get better,” Jenkins said. “And she’s open to increasing her role.” The team also should be buoyed by senior Destiny Scott, who averaged 3.1 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists last season. Junior Aspyn Britt is moving into the point guard role after playing as a reserve on varsity and the starting point guard on JV. Norwood was 22-6 last season, falling to Gainesville in the district tournament championship game. Fortunately for the Lady Pirates, seven returning letter-winners are back, including seniors Emily Chadwell, Jenna Ogletree and Emma McIntosh. Chadwell averaged 11.4 points, 4.6 assists and 3.6 steals last season, when she was All-Summit Conference and all-district. She will be a four-year starter. Ogletree averaged 13.1 points and 7.5 rebounds a game, when she also was all-conference and all-district. The team also includes junior and third-year starter Chloe Crain, who averaged 4.3 points a game last season. Other returning letterwinners are Emma Nelson, a junior, and sophomores Sara McIntosh and Marla Chadwell. Several of Norwood’s varsity players were on the school softball team that played deep into October. “We’re excited,” said Norwood coach Shannon Crain, who is 53-26 at Norwood and 302-202 overall, having coached 16 seasons of Plato boys’ basketball. “Our bench is going to be deep. And hopefully we’ll be a little stronger.” Expectations remain high at Fordland despite the graduation of an all-time great in Ali Sparks, the leading scorer in program history and a four-time All-Summit Conference selection. Longtime coach Kevin McDaris isn’t afraid to say that
this year’s group could be one of his most competitive in his 16 years there. “I think they have the potential to be one of the top two or three teams we’ve had at Fordland,” McDaris said. “We’ve got two years to work together, and you don’t get that a lot of times.” Fordland finished 21-7 last year, reaching the district semifinals before falling to Norwood. A returning seven-player rotation should allow Fordland to challenge in the Summit and districts. The rotation features returning starters Sophie Sparks and Emily White as well as freshman Abi Southard. Sparks averaged 11.3 points a game last season, while White averaged 9.6 points. Danielle Berry is another returning starter. The Lady Eagles will determine a fifth starter in the early going. Lexi Stoll and Brooke Hyder should contend for the spot. “We like to use our quickness and speed,” McDaris said. “We try to play up-tempo as much as we can. We’ll press from time to time, but we do it in spots with our short bench.” Mansfield is poised for a bounce-back season, and more, after going 13-15 overall last season. Senior Alex James is back, and healthy, after suffering a preseason knee injury a year ago. In addition, five others with starting experience return for the Lions. The other starters are seniors Adrian Adams, Maci Gray, Calista Bogart, Alexis Farris and sophomore Karsyn Brooke A 6’1” player, James joined the team ahead of the 2014-2015 season after playing on a home-school team and then averaged 15 points, 11.4 rebounds and eight assists for Mansfield. Unfortunately, a knee injury wrecked her junior season. Depth is encouraging for the Lions, whose bench includes seniors Kyla Corder and Kally Garrison as well as sophomores Hannah Tripp, Lauren Harris and Grace Roy. Because Mansfield has quickness at guards and size inside, the Lady Lions should be balanced. They’ll likely play a more half-court attack. “We’re going to be opportunistic up-tempo but we won’t do it just for the sake of doing it,” Mansfield coach Gary Greene said. “I think it’s foolish if your players’ skill-level doesn’t dictate what you do.” Seymour hopes to catch some teams by surprise following an 8-17 season. It’s a team that has second-year junior starter Riley Harris at point guard, seniors at shooting guard in Hailey Baker and center in Claire Williamson, plus juniors Maddy Barlow and Darbie Noonan at the forwards. The bench should be improved, too, although Seymour enters without junior Bates Pearce, who suffered a knee injury and will likely miss the first two months. Williamson is a three-year starter who played in 24
games last season and averaged 5.8 points and 3.8 rebounds. Harris emerged as the main point guard late last season and averaged about six points per game. “Over the summer, [players] were putting time in the gym,” head coach Brandon Weiss said. “You could tell they wanted to be better. You could tell they were better with ball-handling and shooting. I feel like we have a chance to compete.” Conway, coming off a 10-win season and 1-5 outing in the Summit Conference, will reshuffle its lineup for 2016-17. The Bears lost three players, two to graduation, including leading scorer Riley Luallin, who averaged a team-high 17 points per game and added about 7.5 rebounds. In addition, Conway will also be without junior Olivia Dill until January. Dill, who averaged 14 points and a team-high 11.5 rebounds as a sophomore, suffered a knee injury over the summer. This year’s version of the Conway Lady Bears will be heavily inexperienced and should expect to face some bumps and bruises early in the season. Returning for the Lady Bears are juniors Maddie Archer and Tessa Vaughn and sophomore Halee Tucker. Archer, a 5’5” guard, averaged four points and 2.2 steals, while Vaughn, a 5’8” guard/forward, averaged 3.2 points and 2.8 rebounds last year. If the Lady Bears are to take a step forward this season, they’ll need production from their newcomers. Seniors Lexi Atteberry and Graysen Patten, sophomore Dezaray Nutt, and freshmen Cassie Vestal, Rhiannon Walton, and Lilly Thurman will all be counted on to contribute.
The youngest program in the Mark Twain Conference has also been the most dominant one of late. Hurley comes off a season in which it won 17 games and finished second in the Mark Twain Conference. The Tigers lost a big piece to their puzzle, however, with the graduation of Dyllon Jackson, who surpassed 1,500 points and 500 rebounds for his career. Leading a solid junior class is William Pope, who averaged about 10 points per game last season. A starter since his freshman season, Pope is Hurley’s best defender. Pope will be joined by juniors Chase Simpson (7.2 PPG), Justin Wilson (6.1 PPG), Austin Jackson and Adam Jackson, who is looking to bounce back after suffering a torn ACL last year. Seniors Zach Wisemiller and Tyler Bishop are both strong rebounders and factors in the low post. “These guys have been playing at the varsity level for three years now and have been through the growing pains,” Hurley coach Dylan Curtis said. “We lose a huge piece in Dyllon Jackson, but we’re excited about what we have coming back and are looking to improve.”
School of the Ozarks had its best season in program history in 2015-16, winning its second-straight district title and finishing 25-4 overall after a loss to Gideon in the Class 1 state quarterfinals. The Patriots graduated some notable talent from that 2015-16 team, including forward Keaton Tillack and point guard Cade Martin, both of whom were 1,000-point scorers in their high-school careers. However, the program remains in good hands. Representing the senior core for Patriots coach Jerry Martin is Billy Evans, a four-year starter that was good for nine points and five rebounds per game a season ago and has a shot to reach the 1,000-point plateau this winter. Fellow seniors Jedediah Black, Nathan Franks, Cole Thompson and Keyton Smith will all provide much-needed depth and experience for the Patriots throughout the season. Zach Martin, a junior letterman who averaged seven points per game during his sophomore year, will step into the starting point guard role. Junior Nate Brown will also see more minutes after averaging six points and four rebounds last year. School of the Ozarks will also be making a move to the Class 2 level. “I’m excited about how the new group of guys will mesh together, seeing how this team develops with our senior class from last year and what new identity we’ll have, and who will step into leadership roles,” Martin said. “Moving to Class 2 is a big deal. We play some competition that will challenge us and help get us ready for our district. Getting through that tournament will be a big and fun test.” 108
Bradleyville finished 18-9 last season after losing to School of the Ozarks in the Class 1—District 4 finals. The Eagles graduated five seniors from that team, including star player Cole Thomas (20.9 PPG, 4.8 APG, 3.7 SPG). Filling those spots are several returning players. Alex Lehmann, a 6’7” senior post player, was all-conference and all-district last year. Senior CJ Horsey will be looking for his breakout year after averaging 3.5 rebounds and 6.4 points per game. Seniors Trey Boyd and Caiden Cash, sophomore Brady Rogers and junior Riley Combs are also expected to be key varsity contributors. “We like high-tempo,” Bradleyville coach Josh Hume said. “We want to get up and down the floor, and our kids excel in transition. I look forward to us taking advantage of that.” New Covenant Academy battled back from a sluggish start to win nine games a season ago, going from a 1-9 start to a final record of 9-16 under coach Bill Hudgens. Silas Siebert is NCA’s top returning scorer after averaging 14.5 points per game as a junior. He classmate Duke Carlton will be key. Sophomore Tim Smith is one of the top underclassmen in the conference after averaging about 13 points and five rebounds per game. Like School of the Ozarks, NCA is also making a move up to Class 2. “I am especially excited about our practices this season,” Hudgens said. “We have a core of returning players, but the real key to our success will be how hard each squad member will push their teammates to improve and build a tough, competitive unit.”
Everton seeks to crack the double-digit win mark after winning nine and seven games, respectively, the past two seasons. The Tigers graduated two of their three leading scorers in Bryce Turnbough (17.6 PPG) and Tucker Gillaspy (8.1 PPG, team-high 8.9 RPG). Look for the senior tandem of Joey Dowler (12.3 PPG) and Jeremiah Starkey (3.7 PPG, 2.4 RPG), along with junior Dylan Shanks (5.4 PPG, 4.2 RPG), to lead the Tigers this winter. Chadwick is looking to rebuild following a 4-22 season. The Cardinals brought in a new coach, Shawn Guerin. Senior Gavin Herd, junior Trenton Massey and sophomore Evan Smith will be key to Chadwick’s success. Chadwick could undergo a bit of a youth movement as freshmen Jacob Stevens, Trent Nalley and Hayden Rozell will push for immediate playing time. Niangua is eager for a fresh start after posting a 1-24 record in 2015-16. The Cardinals’ lone win came at Everton in mid-December. Niangua has a new coach in Kalem Copling. The Cardinals welcome back a healthy David Henderson, who missed all of 2015-16 with a knee injury suffered in the preseason. As a sophomore, Henderson averaged about eight points and four rebounds per game. Junior Kodey Weaver is Niangua’s top returning scorer (18.4 PPG).
Lockwood ran through the SRVC undefeated last year. Who will have the best chance to knock the Tigers off this season? Lockwood (20-8) claimed the SRVC regular season title with a 9-0 record in league play and also received Coach of the Year (Aaron Shockley) and Player of the Year (Ben Schnelle) honors. Schnelle, who averaged about 16 points and 12 rebounds per game his senior season, is gone, meaning the Tigers are about to take on a new identity. Leading the charge for the Tigers this year will be returning All-SRVC selections Cade Holman and Logan Sparkman. Holman—a junior guard—is the team’s returning scoring (15.4 PPG) and assists (4.3) leader, and Sparkman—a junior forward—averaged 11 points and six rebounds per game. Lockwood will also be helped out by the return of key contributors Brady Waters (6’3” forward), Ethan Bates (6’2” forward) and Will Beerly (5’10” guard). Shockley is also looking forward to several new faces taking on bigger roles this season. Junior Jack Purinton (6’1” forward) adds frontcourt depth and gives the Tigers another scorer, and classmate Brady Oeltjen (5’9” guard) is one of the team’s top defenders. Lockwood has its eye on another SRVC title but also is angling for a district championship after back-to-back losses in the district title game to Rich Hill. “Those district losses have been brought up a lot and it’s something the guys really want to change,” Shockley said. “We understand that we have to come in every day, and compete and get better. It is for sure a goal they set as a team and an achievement they want to finish.” Greenfield (14-12; 8-1 SRVC) was alone in second place in last season’s SRVC standings. The Wildcats struggled out of the gate, losing 10 of their first 16, but a hot finish to the season has everyone excited about what could be ahead in 2016-17. Second-year Greenfield coach Preston Hyde sees four starters returning to the floor. Jalen Roby, a 6’3” senior, averaged about eight points and four rebounds per game. Classmate Mason Jones is the other returning senior starter. His athleticism and energy make him a nuisance on the defensive end of the floor. Marcus Wright, a 6’1” junior, was an All-SRVC pick behind his 15.6 points, 3.6 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Colin White, a 6’5” junior, averaged 8.5 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game last year. Their play was pivotal in Greenfield righting the ship last February, showing a glimpse of what fans can expect this winter. There are eight additional returning lettermen for Greenfield, with several providing guard depth. Senior Emmanuel Solis and sophomores Trenton Wilson, Bailey Baker and Gage Burns will be counted on to bring toughness and a defensive presence. Senior forward Hayden Sims (6’2”) is one of the best 110
shooters on the team and will help space the floor as a stretch big. Juniors Sawyer Dodd and Trenton Wilson, as well as sophomore Seth Trask, are also back for the ‘Cats. Hyde is also extremely high on newcomer Jarrett Esposito. The senior football standout (6’3”, 215 lbs) brings size and athleticism to the frontcourt. Classmate Shelby Correria (6’4”) is yet another big, athletic body that Hyde will be able to rotate in the frontcourt. Greenfield will be one of the biggest Class 1 teams in the Ozarks. Pierce City (14-13; 6-3 SRVC) enters a new season missing some notable pieces, with the graduation of First Team All-SRVC selections Ian and Evan Burt. Ian averaged 12.1 points per game while Evan poured in 9.9 points per game. Mason Moreland will look to fill a leadership and scoring role after garnering a second-team all-conference nod last season. Moreland scored 6.3 points to go with 3.6 assists and three rebounds per game. Seniors Devin Cox and Jordan Cruz will also be looked upon to lead the Eagles this season. Cox, who stands at 6’5”, averaged 5.2 points and 4.4 rebounds per game as a junior. Cruz, a 6’4” center, chipped in four points and 3.9 rebounds per game. Juniors Hunter Hatfield, Hunter Tindell, Kevin Abramovitz, Donell Kleiboeker and Kaleb Meyer will all return to the court as well. Miller (3-23; 2-7 SRVC) must replace four departed starters from last year’s squad. Jordan Butterfield and Dylan Hill have both graduated, while another moved out of state and another elected not to play. Butterfield’s contributions, in particular, will be missed. Miller’s only all-conference player, he was responsible for nearly 80 percent of the team’s scoring last season. Leading the way for the Cardinals is Stokes’ lone returning starter, sophomore Devin Demster, who led the team with three blocks per game. Demster is joined by a pair returning lettermen in junior James Jeffers and senior Cory Parnell. As with Demster last season, Stokes will again rely on a talented crop of freshmen. Nick Johnson, Neilson Hadlock, Garrett Rollett, Kaul Kleeman, Shaun Edwards and Preston Richardson will all add depth to the Miller roster and compete for varsity minutes. Jasper (15-10; 6-3 SRVC) was bounced by Greenfield in the first round of the Class 2—District 13 tournament last season. The Eagles graduated two of their three all-conference selections in Blake Jeffries (leading scorer) and Nick Adkins. Jasper will be led by a senior class that includes starters Levi Brown, Nick Chartier and Byron Stevens.
Junior Logan Winchester (6’2”) and sophomore Caleb Brown (6’3”) provide additional size in the post. Sophomores Levi Hale and Jaden Baugh are going to see varsity time as well. Diamond (11-15; 4-5 SRVC) was ousted by eventual champ East Newton in the opening round of its district tournament. The Wildcats graduated a trio of regular varsity contributors in Michael Bray (Second Team All-SRVC, 7.2 PPG), Jerimiah Bridgewater (7.2 PPG) and Dylan Myers. Diamond’s current senior class will be the key to the Wildcats’ success this season. Senior guards Carter Prewitt (12.4 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 3.5 APG) and Triston Shepherd (First Team All-SRVC, 12.4 PPG, 7.9 RPG) figure to be one of the best tandems in the conference. The two tied for the team lead in scoring average and were the Wildcats’ top rebounders. College Heights Christian (13-13; 4-5 SRVC) will take on a different look after graduating a big senior class. Among the graduation losses: a pair of all-conference performers in Luke Cummins (first team) and Jordan Fuller (second team), as well as starters Bradey Weddle (6’3” forward) and Brady Bishop. CHC will be led by a senior class that includes Scott Lewis (top returning scorer), Caleb Cummins and Dylan Zarrabi. Liberal (7-19; 3-6 SRVC) graduated a six-player senior class. The Bulldogs bring back one of the conference’s top underclassmen in junior post Matt Dugan, who was a First Team All-SRVC selection. He and senior guard Cade Spencer were the top two scorers for the Bulldogs last season. Sarcoxie (4-22 overall; 1-8 SRVC) returns its top scorer in junior Devon Middleton, who averaged 9.6 points per game and earned Second Team All-SRVC honors. Two more juniors will play big roles for Sarcoxie in Alfred Velasquez (7.6 PPG, 4.1 RPG) and Chris Comerford (6.2 PPG, 2.0 APG). Senior guard Dalton Dodson (4.4 PPG) led the team in three-pointers last season. Golden City (0-24) will have to replace its top three scorers: twins Casey St. John (10.4 PPG) and Cody St. John (Second Team All-SRVC, 10.0 PPG, 7.8 RPG), and Jeffery Anderson (7.3 PPG). Seniors Logan Reed (6.3 PPG, 3.8 RPG) and Lucas Lowe (3.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG) are Golden City’s top returning leading rebounders and scorers.
Jasper’s been a league juggernaut on the girls’ side of the SRVC the past few seasons, but the league crown could be up for grabs as the Eagles deal with major graduation losses. Lockwood may be poised to ascend to the top of the SRVC. The Tigers (19-8; 7-2 SRVC) tied with Pierce City for second in the conference standings last season. Lockwood returns all five starters, including a pair of all-conference players in juniors Rylee Neill (First Team AllSRVC) and Moriah Coose (Second Team All-SRVC). Neill averaged about 19 points per game as a sophomore and has tallied 891 total points over just two seasons. Coose is a post player who averaged about 10 points and led the team in rebounding (8.5 RPG). Additional returning letter-winners who either started or saw significant varsity minutes include: seniors Olivia Nentrup and Noble Foster, juniors Kaylee Kennon and Elizabeth Cossins, and sophomores Heather Byrnes, Lillian Eggerman and Makenzie Purinton. Miller (18-1; 6-3 SRVC) knocked off a 21-win Purdy team to win the Class 2—District 12 tournament for the program’s first district title since 2010. The Cardinals have a new coach, but she’s a familiar face. Hannah Wilkerson, a 2010 Miller High School graduate who went on to play four seasons at Missouri State, takes over for Justin Gerald, who took the girls’ job at Hillcrest. Wilkerson was an assistant under Gerald last season. “Our small town gives endless support to our team and probably has some of the loudest fans in the area,” said Wilkerson, Missouri’s career scoring leader for high school girls’ basketball said. “I am glad to be back home.” To build on that success, Wilkerson’s first order of business will be to replace Miller’s leading scorer and rebounder in Jessica Estes. Estes, now playing at College of the Ozarks, averaged 13.7 points and 9.3 rebounds for the Cardinals. Four starters return this season, led by a pair of senior guards in Abby Gann and Dalyn Hadlock. The 5’9” Gann averaged 13.6 points for the Cardinals and is the team’s vocal leader both on and off the court. Hadlock nearly averaged three steals per game last season and is what Wilkerson calls an “annoying” defender. The pesky 5’4” guard utilizes quickness and savvy defense, but Hadlock also rebounds and scores for the team. A pair of juniors round out Miller’s returning starters. Shayne Mallory and Lynna Hadlock each provide the Cardinals with additional scoring, defense and all-around toughness on the court. Three of Miller’s role players—Bethany Guilick, Riley Pennington and Andie Nuenschwander—will each be expected to play increased roles for the Cardinals this season. Pierce City’s quest for a fourth-straight district title was denied by Purdy in the Class 2—District 12 semifinals last season, but the Green and Black Eagles are eager to make another run at it this winter.
Perhaps none are more eager than junior guard Belle Golubski, who had an injury-riddled sophomore campaign but still managed to lead the team with 10.8 points per contest. The Eagles (15-12; 7-2 SRVC) graduated just one senior from last year’s team in Emilee Sooter, who averaged 9.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game. This season, Pierce City will receive contributions from a trio of seniors, including guards Christine Stellwagen (three-year starter) and Kayla Portillo (two-year starter). Guerin describes Stellwagen as the team’s best defender, and he describes Portillo as the team’s best shooter. They’ll be joined in the backcourt by junior point guard Ragan Blinzler, who led the Lady Eagles with 3.9 assists and 1.8 steals per game. Look for 5’9” sophomore Kendyl Hayward to make an impact in the paint at the center/forward position. She showed promise last year as a freshman, starting in most of their varsity games and leading the team with 8.7 rebounds per game. Greenfield (11-14; 2-7 SRVC) is another SRVC girls’ team that sees a former player take over as head coach. Loganne Hickman (Grider), following a successful playing career at Avila University, returns home for her first head coaching assignment. The 2008 GHS graduate scored 1,000 points in three seasons with Greenfield despite missing all of her senior season with an injury. Hickman will have to fill a big void as Greenfield is replacing its top scorer in Katie Marshall, who’s now playing volleyball at Avila University. Greenfield’s senior trio that’s expected to lead the way includes Taylor Burns (8.6 PPG, 6.0 RPG), Macy Wilson (10.2 PPG, 6.0 RPG) and Sadie Fare. Key newcomers to the squad include Kiarra Mai and Lauren Jones, a pair of sophomores expected to make immediate impacts at the varsity level. Jasper (27-2; 9-0 SRVC) ran through the SRVC undefeated but fell to Adrian in the Class 2—District 13 finals. Not surprisingly, Jasper had some talented players on that team. Five senior starters graduated, all of whom earned all-conference honors: Lexie Royster (SRVC Player of the Year), Anne-Marie Anibal (First Team All-SRVC), Morgan Winchester (First Team All-SRVC), Bri Cawyer (Second Team All-SRVC) and Elizabeth Maneval (Second Team All-SRVC). Additionally, five more seniors off the bench graduated. The Eagles will call upon a new-look unit that includes senior Rylee Ervin and junior Terra Bowman. The latter will be the team’s point guard. Freshmen to watch are Kristy Holliday and Sydney Webb. Other newcomers to the varsity roster include juniors Kayana Bruce and Kaitlyn Adams and sophomore Katelyn Dockery.
Sarcoxie (15-10; 4-5 SRVC) was ousted by two points at the hands of Southwest in the Class 2—District 12 tournament quarterfinals a season ago. The Bears bring back their lone all-conference honoree in senior Carson Chandler (First Team All-SRVC), who averaged 18.6 points per game and surpassed 1,000-career points last season. Senior Ashley Bittick will run the offense at point guard and offers speed, ball-handling and shooting. Senior Heidi Lopez (7.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG) is Sarcoxie’s go-to player inside and provides a strong presence in the paint. Sophomore Giselle Lopez (7.0 PPG) is a speed demon who can handle the ball. Juniors Nicole Robinson and Micah Edwards, along with sophomores Kierston Dodson and Chelsea Evans, will also play key roles and provide depth. Ellis said Sarcoxie’s depth is much improved and the Bears feature capable shooters to go with their post players. Diamond (11-14; 4-5 SRVC) lost two of its three all-conference players to graduation in Macie Seward and Kirsten Eden. Look for the Wildcats to turn to the senior tandem of Kelsi Eden and Ashley Burkey (4.5 PPG, 4.6 RPG) and sophomore Lauryn Macy (4.6 PPG). Kelsi Eden, who was Second Team All-SRVC, is Diamond’s returning leader in points (11.4), rebounds (5.1) and assists (3.4) per game. Liberal (10-16; 3-6 SRVC) had no seniors on the roster last season and has a couple of all-conference players coming back in senior MaKayla Fry (First Team All-SRVC) and junior Carly Spencer (Second Team All-SRVC). Fry averaged 13.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.9 steals per game. Spencer was the top rebounder (7.2 RPG) and second in points (9.2 PPG). Additional returning starters include sophomore Mallory Gazaway, junior Kaylee Daniels and senior Callie Cornell. Golden City (14-12; 3-6 SRVC) graduated an all-conference performer in Cassie Tubaugh (Second Team All-SRVC). The likely starting lineup includes juniors Taylor Beerly and Brooklyn Woodworth and sophomores Ashlyn Woodworth and Brooke Friesenborg, who started as freshmen. Friesenborg is Golden City’s top returning scorer and rebounder, averaging about nine points per game last season. College Heights Christian’s (2-23; 0-9 SRVC) top player is junior Marlee Lett, a 5’9” guard and multi-sport athlete (volleyball, track) who earned Second Team AllSRVC honors as a sophomore with averages of 17.2 points and nearly seven rebounds per game.
The Mark Twain Conference was top-heavy on the girls’ side last season, with four teams winning 10 or more games and the other three winning six or fewer. per game last season. Also look for contributions from senior Kyiah Trent, junior Sophia Meltke and sophomores Ericka Cook and Anna Turner. The promising freshmen trio of Emily Williams, Gracie Shipley and Taylor McHaffie will add immediate varsity depth. “We have five very quick starters this season who all have the ability to take it to the basket and/or shoot outside,” said Thomas. “We have two very quick guards this season who will make it rough on the opponents’ ball handlers. We also have three bigs, which we have never had before. That will make it difficult for our opponents in the paint.”
Hurley comes off an 18-10 season that saw it reach the district finals, where it lost, 81-71, to Bradleyville. The Tigers enter a new season having to replace do-everything forward Zava Bennett and four starters overall. Hurley will be pressed for numbers. Only about eight girls are expected out for the team under first-year coach Melissa Dhondt, who was the Chadwick boys’ coach last season. Senior Lexie Winfree brings leadership to the court. Sophomore Samantha Hall is back after starting as a freshman. Fellow sophomore Paige Simpson will be Hurley’s floor general. “We are a young, scrappy team with a lot of heart,” said Dhondt. “This group of girls has played together for a long time. They have good energy on the floor and are willing to play with everything they have.” Bradleyville claimed a district championship amid a 22-6 season. The Eagles defeated Hurley in the Class 1— District 4 finals. Bradleyville has had three consecutive seasons of 15 or more victories after a 5-18 record in 2012-13. Expectations remain high at Bradleyville in coach Autumn Thomas’ fourth season. The Tigers graduated four varsity players, including three starters, in guards Casey Ridings and Kylie Winkles, reserve Mariah Clemans and starting post Emily Todd. Fortunately, Bradleyville returns plenty of talent, starting with a solid junior tandem in guard Kourtney Shipley and forward Dorian Hayes. Shipley is the top player in the conference. All-state as a sophomore, she averaged nearly 23 points per game and hit a team-high 84 treys. Hayes averaged about 10 points and is Bradleyville’s top returning rebounder, after grabbing about eight boards
School of the Ozarks finished with a winning record (13-12) last season and a loss to Bradleyville (57-46) in the Class 1—District 4 semifinals. Coach Andrea Martin’s Patriots will need a new go-to player to step up following the graduation of Hannah Duncan (15.0 PPG, 8.0 RPG), along with Honorable Mention AllMTC selection Emily Brown. Evie Carswell, who won the Class 1 girls’ high jump in track and field last spring, could be the next-girl-up for the Patriots. She averaged about 8.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Four additional seniors join Carswell in Emma Mackey, Nicole Voerman, Sierra Saffle and Peyton Lammert. Sophomore Ariel Fowler, a move-in from Alpena, Ark., will provide an immediate impact. The Patriots are moving up from Class 1 to Class 2 this season. New Covenant adjusted to life without all-time great Casy Askins last season and posted a 10-17 record. The Warriors, under second-year coach David Anderlik, will drive much of their offense through promising sophomore guard Maggie Phipps, who led in NCA in scoring (16.9 ppg) and assists (5.1) while earning first-team all-conference honors. Jacey Lamb showed great growth in her sophomore season (9.1 PPG). Leadership duties will fall on Emerson Russell (8.7 PPG, 6.2 RPG), who’s working to return from a foot injury suffered during volleyball season. A notable newcomer to the squad is freshman point guard Alicia Batten. Batten scored 18.0 PPG in her eighthgrade campaign. Chadwick was plagued by injuries amid a 6-18 season. Third-year coach David Argo brings back all five of his starters from that team, plus new depth. Senior Kayla Loveland was second-team all-conference and Brianna Esline, a sophomore, received all-conference honorable mention. Also returning to the squad are seniors Haley Farris, Shelby Weter and Shayna Adams. All three were starters a year ago.
Seniors Brooklyn Driggers and Katelyn Driggers, who transferred from Sparta, along with junior Mikayla Bushong and freshmen Stevi Jones, Lauren Gilbert and Courtney Grimes are the newcomers that Argo believes can make an impact on where this team will go this year. “They will have a huge impact on all aspects of the philosophy of this team,” said Argo of his six new additions. “Brooklyn, Katelyn, Mikayla and Stevi are all two-way players who can shoot, drive and defend at high levels. Laruen and Courtney will add more solid depth to our lineup. Adding them to what we had will immediately change our team and how we played from a year ago.” Niangua is ready to turn the page following a 2-24 campaign. Coach Clint Gazette will look to a pair of seniors and a sophomore to lead the team this winter. Senior Kelcie Matney (7.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG) could double her junior-season numbers, Gazette said, with a full and healthy season. Senior Shawnae Kurtenbach (6.0 PPG) is a speedy, capable defender. Sophomore Alivia Donaldson (6.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG) is a piece for the present and future. Everton looks for better nights ahead in 2016-17. It split a pair of meetings with Niangua for its lone win of the season. Numbers could be a factor for Everton as five of the Tigers’ nine varsity players last season were seniors. Everton does return its top-two scorers in 6-foot junior Andi Montgomery (9.7 PPG, 8.5 RPG) and sophomore Kenzie Wilson (5.3 PPG).
How will the Ozark 7 boys and girls conferences shake out this season? BOYS Purdy (20-9) got hot once the calendar turned to February. The Eagles won four of five games to close the regular season then won the Class 2—District 12 tournament. Purdy defeated Marionville in sectionals before falling to eventual Class 2 state champ Hartville in the quarterfinal round. Purdy enters a new season having to replace four starters, including a trio of All-Ozark 7 players in Jonatan Salazar, Luis Cruz and Sydney Birge. The Eagles welcome back their leading scorer in junior Tyler Keeler, who averaged 14 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game as a sophomore. Returning alongside Keeler is Hunter Cook (4.9 PPG), who has experienced the ropes of varsity action since his freshman season. Seniors Justin LaNore and James Hughlet are the last returning lettermen from last season. LaNore, standing at 6’3”, averaged three points per game with three rebounds as a junior and will add a much-needed element—height— for the Eagles. League champ McAuley Catholic (22-5) should be a contender in the Ozark 7 once again. The Warriors, who only had one senior, bring back all five of their all-conference selections from last season, including reigning Ozark 7 Player of the Year Brendyn Taylor (9.6 PPG, 7.0 APG, 3.3 SPG). Junior guard Jake Doyle (17.1 PPG) was first-team all-conference and the top scorer for a balanced McAuley Catholic team. The Warriors have three more players who averaged at least eight points per game last season: senior Tommy Doyle (11.9 PPG), senior Hunter Huthsing (10.3 PPG) and senior Collin Lowry (8.4 PPG). Thomas Jefferson (17-9) bumps up from Class 1 to Class 2 this winter. The Cavaliers will be looking to replace a pair of all-conference selections in Noah Wells and Michael Joseph. Senior Matt Madole (7.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG), a 6’3” forward, was the team’s third-leading scorer and second-leading rebounder last season. Verona takes a move up to Class 2 coming off a 1215 season. Verona’s top three scorers last season were all freshmen: Kolton Pinkly (14.3 PPG), Eddie Gutierrez (11.8 PPG) and Caleb Hillhouse (10.7 PPG). Verona shot a lot of threes last season—570 total for an average of about 21 per game—and figure to do the same this season. Verona had four players make at least 30 3-pointers in 2015-16. Wheaton joins Class 1, a season after finishing 3-23. Coach Chris Kennedy begins his second season at the
helm and will likely have an all-senior starting lineup. Forward Tate Banks (10.0 PPG, 6.0 RPG) often draws the defensive assignment on the opposition’s top scorer. Jayce Brattin looks for further development in his second season as point guard. Remaining starters include: Hilsden Moseley (5.0 PPG, 3.0 RPG), Daniel Harris (Wheaton’s best 3-point shooter). Wheaton’s bench will feature junior Kade Reed, who played basketball for the first time last season and showed steady improvement, and sophomores Klay Reed and Payton Harper. Southwest (10-16) could push for a winning record. The Trojans graduated an all-conference player in center Robbie Randall but welcome back two all-conference selections to the fold in seniors Paton Clay (6’3” forward) and Devon Resz (5’9” guard). Exeter (2-24) graduated its lone all-conference player in Codie Evatt (Second Team All-Ozark 7). Three starters are back in Jared Alverson, Trevor Nelson and Andrew Blacke.
GIRLS League champ Purdy (21-6; 6-0 Ozark 7) is looking to get over the hump after falling in district finals appearances in 2015 and 2016, losing both games by a combined margin of seven points. Purdy returns a good amount of talent but must replace the graduated Desirie Ennes, who was named Ozark 7 Player of the Year in 2016. Ennes averaged a double-double with 12.9 points, 10.7 rebounds, 4.3 steals and 3.7 assists per game. Coach Eli Ernst, who was named Ozark 7 Coach of the Year, sees three all-conference players returning to the floor in junior Layne Skiles and seniors Sami House and Rion Boyd. A 5’10” junior, Skiles averaged 15.4 points per game while grabbing 6.5 boards with a little over four assists. Her role will only grow as an upperclassman. House, a 5’7”, senior, averaged 11.3 points as a junior with 4.3 rebounds. Boyd, a 5’7”, senior, scored 10.5 points per game. In addition, the Eagles welcome back three other returning juniors—Zoe Brown (5’4”), Cailyn Spears (5’6”) and Hallie Henderson (5’2”). Verona finished last season strong, winning six of its final eight games to finish 16-12. The Wildcats fell to eventual Class 1 third-place finisher Walnut Grove in the Class 1—District 5 finals. Revenge won’t be on the table this winter as Verona moves up a classification to Class 2. For Verona’s success to continue, third-year head coach Brenton Hyde’s first order of business will be replacing some key components.
Three-year starting point guard Tori Pinkly and starting center Hannah Hilton were lost to graduation, but the cupboard is far from barren. All-conference, do-everything Twilah Carrasquillo returns for her sophomore campaign. The 5’9” guard averaged 11 points and 4.5 assists last season. All-conference Nicole Stephenson led the team in points (12.2 PPG), rebounds (6.8 RPG) and 3-point shooting (66) for a second consecutive year. Rounding out the trio of returning starters is Madison Shrum, a 5’8” senior forward, co-captain and three-year starter for the Lady Wildcats. Varsity newcomers include sophomore Gwenyth Henson and freshmen Carolina Castillo and Hailee Wilkinson. Wheaton aims for a turnaround season after finishing 8-18. The Lady Bulldogs graduated two of their three all-conference selections in Crystal Alvarado and Jera Prewitt. Alvarado led the team in scoring. The returning sophomore trio of Tori Goostree, Rachel Lacey and Hallie Mitchell each ranked in the top five for Wheaton in points per game last season. Wheaton moves down from Class 2 to Class 1. Exeter went 14-10 in 2014-15 but bottomed out to a 5-20 record last season. The Tigers do, however, return their top player in senior Mikayla Meyer. The 5’9” guard is a three-time first team All-Ozark 7 selection who’s averaged at least 15 points per game in each of her first three seasons. Southwest (15-12) had two all-Ozark 7 selections last season. Jamie Shrum, also a volleyball standout, was a first-team selection but graduated. The Trojans will count on senior Breanna Learned, who was Ozark 7 Honorable Mention. McAuley Catholic (11-15) will field a rather young lineup. The Warriors graduated leading scorer and second team All-Ozark 7 selection Morgan Hughes. The junior tandem of Dorothy Ostmeyer and Abby Schifelbein (Ozark 7 honorable mention) and the sophomore tandem of Courtney Bates and Rebecca Freitas all averaged better than five points per game last season for a balanced McAuley team. Thomas Jefferson (4-18) bumps up from Class 1 to Class 2 this winter, joining the likes of College Heights Christian, Jasper, McAuley Catholic, Pierce City, Purdy, Sarcoxie and Southwest in District 12. The Cavaliers graduated their leading scorer in Marisa Donica (10.3 PPG). Thomas Jefferson returns a solid junior duo in 5’8” Caitlin Mueller (9.8 PPG, 5.6 RPG) and Catherine Lant 6’2” (4.5 PPG, 8.4 RPG, Ozark 7 Honorable Mention).
There are several high-quality teams and players among the independents and outlying conferences on the boys’ side. Greenwood shifts into a new-look district (Class 2—District 10), joining Fair Play, Morrisville, New Covenant, Osceola, Pleasant Hope, Skyline and Spokane. Despite graduating three key varsity pieces in Gavin Litherland, Matt Rowe and Carson Turner, Greenwood figures to be a district-title contender. Senior forward Julius Walker is one the area’s top players, regardless of Class. He averaged about 25 points, nine rebounds and two assists per game as a junior. Greenwood will have two more experienced seniors joining Walker in point guard Garrett Nau and forward Wesley Bergen. Nau led the team in assists last season while Bergen, a capable perimeter shooter, missed his junior season due to injury but was a starter as a sophomore. Also returning for Greenwood are juniors Joe Brock and Aki Coller, who both gained valuable experience last year as sophomores. “We have a senior-laden team that has lots of varsity experience. We have good overall team size and depth,” Greenwood coach Darren Taylor, who has a 218-111 record in 13 seasons at the school, said. “Our newcomers should provide immediate help in several facets of the game. The positive attitude that these players have maintained makes it fun.” Elsewhere in Springfield, Class 5 Central hopes to build on the flashes of promise it showed last season. The Bulldogs led eventual state runner-up Kickapoo at halftime of the Class 5—District 11 semifinals before losing. Central coach Armando Johnson said the Bulldogs, who had no seniors, were talented but lacked experience. “We were a young team last year, but I had higher expectations due to our talent level,” Johnson said. “We didn’t have any seniors and that became the pivotal problem we faced throughout the year.” That shouldn’t be a problem in 2016-17 as Central returns four seniors with varsity experience in Robert Galvan, Braden Dankert, Bryson Dankert and D.J. Hardin, who give Central 116
tremendous athleticism and versatility both inside and out. Rounding out the starters is Tavi Robinson, a junior point guard who has started for the Bulldogs since his freshman season. Johnson expects Robinson’s athleticism and improved overall game will be a key factor for Central’s transition game. Junior Garrett Harper is a varsity newcomer who could make an immediate impact for the Bulldogs. While the Bulldogs will be fast and athletic, Johnson doesn’t have a great deal of size on the roster. “We are not very tall, so being able to do the little things is going to be the most important points of emphasis for us as we approach each contest,” Johnson said. “We will have the guys continually work on making sure that we have all of our Ps and Qs covered on the floor and that all buy in and love what we are doing.” Morrisville comes off a 19-9 overall season and, like Greenwood, aims to make a run in a new-look district. The Panthers will lean on guard Connor Wilkins, who is 36 points shy of reaching 1,000 for his career. Morrisville graduated six seniors last year, including Brandon Bell, Hunter Wilkins and Jordan Criss. Morrisville will look to 6’4” forward Josh Turner for inside scoring. Senior Gavin Lombas is a high-motor guard who Morrisville coach Brett Rippee said will step in and be one of the Panthers’ main guys. Trenton Taylor and Jordan McMillen are other notable seniors returning to the squad. “We will be athletic and strong at the guard position and long at the post position with good shooters,” Rippee said. “The things we want to do all start on the defensive end. We want Morrisville to be one of the toughest defensive teams in the area.” El Dorado Springs has a new coach in Joel Braden, who most recently coached at Lamar.
His Lamar team, seeded No. 1, knocked El Dorado Springs out of the district quarterfinals last season, ending the Bulldogs’ season at 6-19 overall. Braden’s first task will be replacing a group of seniors, led by Ben Middleton. Seniors Riley Boyd and Shane Trowbridge figure to lead the way. The 6’2” Boyd is a solid inside-and-out player who leads the returning Bulldogs in both scoring and rebounding. Trowbridge, an athletic 6’1” starter, is expected to pick up an increased scoring load for the team this season. The two are joined by Jake Schieffer, Trey Babcock and Wyatt Graves. Newcomers to the varsity roster include Shelby McKinney, Brandon Hayes, Kaiden Simmons (who returns to the program after missing last season with a knee injury) and Brenden Reddick. “We have a lot of kids who want to be better at basketball,” Braden said. “We are hoping some of these players step up and really work to be better players and help make the team better.” Eminence, a member of the Big Springs Conference, has piled up four district titles and a Class 1 state championship in the past five seasons. Entering his 21st season at the school, coach Pete McBride and the Redwings have the roster to again make noise come late February and early March. Sophomore Trent McBride, Pete’s son, was one of the area’s top freshmen last season. The 6’6” forward averaged 16.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game, including a 22-point effort in a sectional loss to School of the Ozarks. Junior Ethan Drake (6.0 PPG) is back to run the show at point guard. Robert Keeling, a 5’10” junior, is a physical guard whose on-the-ball pressure will set the tone for the defense. Kyndall Copeland averaged nine points and 2.8 rebounds for his sophomore campaign and enters his third year as a varsity starter. “One of our major strengths will be our many ways to score,” McBride said. “We are very O-Zone Magazine
athletic and can get out and push the basketball while attacking and putting pressure on defenses in transition. We have guys who can shoot the 3-point shot off penetration and post kicks while also having a mix of slashers who can create off the dribble.” Alton and Winona will also be factors in the Big Springs Conference. Winona, a Class 2 team, finished 19-9 overall after losing to Thayer in the Class 2—District 2 finals. Winona has no seniors this season, but the Wildcats do feature a stable of nine juniors who have ample varsity experience. Included in that group is Winona’s leading scorer, rebounder and shot-blocker from last season, Aaron Walker. The 6’3” forward averaged 18.4 PPG, 8.8 RPG and 2.7 BPG as a sophomore. Winona also brings back its top shooter in junior Zach Neal, who made 60 treys a season ago. Stoney Redman and Brendon Simpson are two others who have played major varsity roles already and bring tremendous energy and overall defensive toughness to Winona. Alton (12-13) returns a dynamic player in 6’3” guard Caleb Steele. He led the Comets in points (20.1), total rebounds (9.2), assists (4.3), steals (2.6) and blocks (1.7) per game. Ashton Foes (7.3 PPG, team-high 43 threes) was fourth on the team in scoring last season. The Comets will be looking to replace the contributions of Jed Edwards (14.4 PPG) and Bryan Holden (7.9 PPG), who were second and third on the team, respectively, in scoring average. Nearby Bakersfield dominated the White River Conference a season ago. The Lions finished 21-8 overall, losing 52-47 to Mansfield in the Class 2—District 10 finals. Changes are in store for Bakersfield, which graduated a nine-player senior class that included all-state forward Wyatt Summers. Returning for the Lions are juniors Derik Murphy, Nathan Scott and Doug Tefft. Bakersfield drops down to Class 1 for at least the next two seasons, joining conference foes Dora, Koshkonong and Lutie—as well as Bradleyville, Chadwick, Couch and Niangua—in District 4. Up north in the Kaysinger Conference, Lincoln still had its football season going into November and figures to enjoy similar success on the hardwood. The Cardinals are coming off a 22-5 campaign, and sixth-year head coach Tyler Burke returns several full- and part-time starters. Lincoln’s players have had multi-sport success–golf, baseball and football–but the Cardinals are still chasing their first district championO-Zone Magazine
ship in basketball. Everything starts with all-conference and all-district selection Boone Kroenke. The senior guard—also a standout in football and golf—averaged a team-high 21 PPG last year. Also returning for the Cardinals are seniors Mason Sanders (9.0 PPG), Trevor Kroenke (8.0 PPG) and Ryan Eckhoff (8.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG). All four bring back starting experience, something that will be pivotal for Lincoln. Burke returns eight of his top 10 players from last season—all players who are familiar with Burke’s system and desire to play a high-octane brand of basketball. That experience will be useful come March. Last year, Lincoln—the No. 2 seed in Class 2—District 14—appeared to be the favorite after top-seeded Sacred Heart was upset in the semifinals. However, Lincoln was upset by No. 5 Windsor just two hours later. Lincoln beat Windsor and Skyline during the regular season. Last year’s district loss has fueled the Cardinals throughout the offseason. “We missed out on the opportunity to play for the district championship against a team that we had already defeated,” Burke said. “Our kids aren’t going to forget that game. I’m sure they’re motivated by it.” Cole Camp, 10 miles to the southwest of Lincoln, had a 20-9 season in Class 3 but was ousted by Sherwood in the Class 3—District 13 semifinals. Graduation hit the Blue Birds as only two starters return in point guard Austin Berendzen (9.9 PPG, 3.1 RPG) and 6’5” senior forward Trace Brandes (5.2 PPG, 5.1 RPG). Licking may be next in line to assume command of the Frisco League. The Wildcats followed up their first district title in 18 years by going 21-7 last season, losing by one point to Mountain View-Birch Tree/Liberty in the Class 3—District 10 semifinals. The Wildcats boast a sensational senior combo in 6’5” guard Brady Smith and 6’5” forward Nathan Wilson. The latter was Licking’s top scorer last season, averaging about 25 points and eight boards per game. Smith averaged 15.5 points and about seven rebounds. Both were all-conference selections in 2015-16 and are superb athletes who have the size to go with it. Crocker had a quiet season last winter, finishing 7-20 overall amid several close losses. But the Lions may be poised for a quick turnaround as they return a trio of all-conference players in juniors Adam Shockley (7.2 PPG, 3.1 APG) and Ethan Boorom (12.2 PPG, 7.7 RPG), along with senior Blake Neuman (14.0 PPG, 3.6 RPG).
Adding to the Lions’ depth, senior Drayke Hair (6’2”) is back after averaging about six points and five rebounds last season. Also returning are Nathaniel Combs with his 6.6 points per game, as well as Dillon Porter and Brian Fincher. Dixon won its first six games last season but cooled off and, ultimately, finished 12-12. Graduates include Weston Shelton, Tyrell Cirrincione, Bailey Solan, Gerard Wijngaarden, Andrew Meier and Dakota Fierce—four were starters. Shelton was the team’s leading scorer with 18.1 points per game, and Meier averaged 11 points per game. Marquis Gantt is the lone returning starter from last season. The senior is a stretch-four type and inside-outside player who averaged nine points and also added five rebounds and two assists per game. Khale Hoard and Anthony Baker are each seniors who will fill the three or four spots. Trey Holvier is a freshman guard who is likely to see a lot of playing time as well. Plato (16-12) graduated four of its five starters, but coach Rick Supancic maintains his roster is filled with upperclassmen who have some varsity experience. Returning at point guard is Wesley Wilson, a senior who earned all-conference honors last season. Joining him will be Caden Wyatt, a senior guard who is strong, speedy and a capable defender. Standing at 6-foot, Jacob Supancic is a senior who has the potential to be a great scorer and is skilled in defense. Outside threat Kyle Jenkins (6’1”) is also a senior. Rounding out the senior class is Seth Thomas, a quick guard who can shoot well and also defend. Juniors Ty Humphrey and Cain Couch will also be factors. Like Crocker, Richland could be poised for a turnaround campaign in 2016-17. The Bears return their lone all-conference player in senior guard Tanner Riddle, who led the Bears with 18 points per game and had three games of 30 or more points. Dillon Zeigenbein, a 6’8” senior, does a little bit of everything. Averaging about six points and four rebounds per game, Zeigenbein is a capable shooter and ball-handler, can score inside when needed and creates a big presence defensively, said Bears coach Anthony Caruso. The Bears also welcome in a promising freshman, 6’1” Ethan Fagre. Caruso said he’s a top-notch athlete, shooter and finisher who brings rare basketball IQ for his age. Fagre has a chance to be a special defensive player, Caruso said.
Among the independents and outlying conferences, Greenwood and Central are dealing with the losses of star players to graduation while the Frisco League is shaping up to be very deep. Greenwood, which went 12-9 last season and was eliminated by Morrisville in the district quarterfinal round, has a big piece of its puzzle to replace in the middle. The Blue Jays graduated top scorer and rebounder Amy Abdalla, who averaged 16.7 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. Fortunately, the Blue Jays return three starters and six letter-winners. Of the six returners, three are seniors— Meredith Sharp, Katherine Ulmer and Yeaseo Kim—who will be counted on heavily this winter to lead the squad. Other returners include junior Meredith Montgomery and sophomores Fallon Yarnell and Averi Kessler. Like Ulmer, Montgomery will be a versatile asset for Greenwood this year thanks to her ability to play multiple positions. Greenwood coach Kent Hedgpeth will also look for production out of a group of freshmen that includes Taylor Brooks, Anna McNay, Sage Vahldick, Reanna Anderson and Jessica Parrish. Greenwood shifts into a new-look district (Class 2—District 10), joining Fair Play, Morrisville, New Covenant, Osceola, Pleasant Hope, Skyline and Spokane. Across town, Class 5 Central begins its third season under coach Caitlin Russell. The Lady Bulldogs have increased their win total in each of Russell’s first two seasons and, with four starters and seven letter-winners returning, that could again be the case this winter. Central will be without Jaslyn Williams for the first time under Russell. The standout guard led the team in scoring and steals in each of the last two seasons and was the catalyst for Russell’s system at both ends of the floor. While there is no replacing Williams’ presence on the floor, Central will bring back nearly its entire rotation aside from her, led by sophomore guard Dasia Pence. Pence could be in the same mold as Williams in terms of impact. As a freshman, Pence led the Lady Bulldogs with 52 assists and finished second to Williams in scoring (9.0 PPG) and steals. 118
Pence is also the team’s returning leader in 3-pointers (35). Heather Cornman (4.8 PPG, 5.2 RPG) was the team’s leading rebound last year and the 5’9” junior will look to anchor the post. She will be flanked by senior Claire Vienhage. Sophomore post Sakira Jones will try to use her size (6’0”) and length to make an even bigger impact this season. Joining Pence in the backcourt will be classmate Parker Heman. Morrisville adds a new coach, Shelby Johnson, following an 18-9 campaign. The junior duo of Abby Painter and Michaela Presley are going to be looked at to fill some big shoes after the graduation of Kaitlyn Painter and Tabitha Francka—the two seniors and top scorers from last year’s squad. Two newcomers to watch will be Keaton Painter and Katie Collins. Painter is a freshman and the cousin of Abby Painter. Collins didn’t play basketball last year, but Johnson said she shows some promise for the upcoming season. El Dorado Springs (18-11) enters its ninth season under coach Beau Swopes. The Bulldogs finished the 2015-16 season with an 18-11 record and a district championship before falling, 57-35, to eventual Class 3 state champion Strafford in the sectional round. Kameron Schaaf, who led the Lady Bulldogs in almost every statistical category, now calls Southwest Baptist University home. Team leader Kinli Simmons has moved on to the Missouri State University-West Plains volleyball squad. Cameron McPeak and Hannah Kruckenberg provided invaluable defensive contributions. Key returnees include senior Anyssa Salazar, juniors Paige Esry and Keili Tough and sophomore Taylor Robison. Salazar is a strong outside shooter who can also attack the basket, Esry gives the team a solid ball handler with an ability to score, Tough is a really good athlete who can get out and defend
and Robison has the ability to hit big shots from the outside. Junior Alexis Tough and sophomore Brittany Stevens both showed promise over the summer session and should continue to improve as the season rolls on. Eminence should be a force again in the Big Springs Conference. The Redwings (16-11) suffered a heartbreaking end to their season last February, falling 75-74 in double overtime to Bunker in the Class 1 District 3 title game. Eminence had won seven-straight games before that loss. The Redwings lost just one player to graduation, but she was a good one; Hayli Smith was the team’s best defender and 3-point shooter, as well as a great leader and an all-conference player. However, Eminence returns four starters and five of its top six players overall. It’s mostly the same group that led the volleyball team to the Class 1 final four in late October. Savanna Conner led the team in assists and scoring (14.6 PPG). Classmate Madison Keeling (14.2 PPG) was the leading rebounder. Junior Mariah Smith averaged 10.8 points and led the team in steals. Wendy Smith was the first off the bench last year and is a skilled rebounder who will also assist in the post. Sophomore Sydney Williams returns as point guard. She was the team’s free-throw percentage leader and put up 12.6 PPG. Meaghan Byerly came out at Christmas last year, and the much-improved sophomore stands to help at the post. New faces include Tori Harlow—a sophomore transfer student from Bunker—Cheyenne Garcia—a Winona transfer—and incoming freshman Peyton Shelton. Alton is another Big Springs team to watch out for. The Comets posted an 18-7 record last season and reached their district title game before losing to eventual Class 2 runner-up Neelyville. O-Zone Magazine
The Comets return one of the area’s top scorers in senior Hailee Erickson, who averaged about 22 points per game as a junior. She made a team-high 72 3-pointers on 40 percent shooting from the perimeter. Alton had a notable graduation loss in Haley Kernodle (9.3 PPG, 8.4 RPG), who was the team’s leading rebounder, but returns its third-leading scorer, Taylor Parsons (8.5 PPG). Bakersfield is a team poised to make noise in districts and potentially the state playoffs. The Lions (13-11) lost only two players to graduation: Leila Tefft (5.0 PPG) and Destiny Johnson (9.0 PPG). Bakersfield returns four experienced starters in Syrena Carter, who won the White River Conference Player of the Year as a sophomore last season, junior Mariah Burnett (all-conference selection), senior Jacelyn McCormick (all-conference selection) and sophomore McKenzie Lester. A host of newcomers will aid Bakersfield’s depth. They include: junior Natalie McKee, speedy freshman Andrea Yount, sophomore post Kassandra Watlington, sophomore Tiffany Daughtery, senior Krystal Foster and freshman Shelby Summers. Dora (12-13) was reclassified over the summer to Class 1—District 4 and could challenge for a title with the likes of Bakersfield, Bradleyville and Chadwick, among others. The Falcons have a new coach in Wayne Jessen, who is also the softball coach at the school. He has 18 years of coaching experience and an overall record of 324-162. After losing four seniors, Dora returns a lone starter in 5’5” Ashlynn Vanatter. Vanatter and fellow senior Kelsey Strong lead a host of returning players and newcomers who will all compete for varsity minutes. Juniors Desiree Downen, Kryslyn Colvin, Emma Berry and Tiffany McKee are joined by sophomores Keeli Land, Taylor Trail and Taylor Brege. In the Frisco League, Licking is positioned to return to its past dominance sooner rather than later. The Wildcats finished 10-17 last season, playing eventual district champ Houston to a 10-point loss in the semifinal round. The outcome ended Licking’s streak of threestraight district championships, as the Wildcats dealt with the graduation of two all-time greats from their 2015 senior class in Megan Smith and Bailie Osborne. While it was a tough year, it was one that set the foundation for what should be a resurgent 2016-17. Licking returns three full-time starters from last year and three additional players who started at least eight games, led by senior Ashley Ingram. 120
Ingram, an All-Frisco League pick, led Licking in scoring (14.2 PPG), rebounding (6.8 RPG) and steals (2.6 SPG). The 5’8” forward is a four-year letterman. Rissler expects her to improve on those numbers from last year due to increased tempo. Licking welcomes back a pair of juniors who started last season in Dalrayn Feringa (8.3 PPG, 4.4 RPG) and Mckenzie Cook (7 PPG, 2.1 SPG). The Lady Wildcats will look for an increased role from a handful of freshmen who played varsity minutes last year, led by Lexi Hadix (4.2 PPG, 2.3 RPG). Also expected to contribute immediately is a crop of incoming freshmen who posted a 30-2 mark in junior high. Leading that group is 5’7” guard Karlee Holland. Crocker is the defending league champ after going 25-3 overall and winning a district title last season. Coach Nancy Ward left to become the Stoutland girls’ coach, so Mike Austin takes the reins of Crocker in his seventh year of coaching. He most recently led the Wheaton boys’ basketball team in 2014-15. The team will certainly feel the void of one of the area’s best tandems, Lindsay Medlen and Kelsi York. As point guard, Medlen took over Crocker’s career points record, surpassing 2,000 points last season on the night the team took the conference championship. Medlen, an all-state selection, was also the Frisco League MVP, averaging 17.7 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.5 steals and 4.6 assists per game. York was also first-team all-district and all-conference, averaging 14.1 points, 3.2 steals and 4.5 rebounds per game. Crocker also graduates Kyla Connell (5.4 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 2.5 APG) and Kayla Knifong. Returning starters and seniors Zoe Wilson and Sadie Bomar both have two seasons of significant playing time under their belts. Sophomore Macey Connell will also start for the Lady Lions. Also returning are juniors Kelsie Shoemaker, Kaitlyn Gambill and Lyndsey Parrish. Dixon welcomes back several returning players plus adds some promising freshmen to its lineup for 2016-17. The team ended last season 9-15 and lost in its district opener. Senior Madison Duncan is the best of the bunch among Dixon’s returning varsity players. An All-Frisco League selection, she put up 14.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 2.8 assists per game. Sophomore point guard Tayler McKinnon (3.6 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 1.7 SPG) is a quick player who can defend any guard and looks to have a strong sophomore campaign. Megan Gilbert, a 5’9” senior who averaged
6.4 points and 9.8 rebounds, is a strong player and excellent rebounder who can and will play any position from small forward to center. Tressa Hughes (12.2 PPG, 4.4 RPG) is a junior point and shooting guard combo whose expertise is ball handling, as well as knockdown shooting. Dixon will thrive on depth. Plato comes off a 15-11 season with a young roster. Eight of Plato’s 11 losses were by five points or less. Point guard Kendall Hall returns for her senior season—she averaged about 11 points and four assists per game as a junior. Junior Janet Garrett was the team’s leading scorer last year, averaging over 17 points per game. Junior Madi Mueller (7.0 PPG, 6.0 RPG) was named the team’s defensive MVP. Classmate Hannah Breedlove adds versatility. Senior Kennedy Adams, a starter since her sophomore season, had her junior season cut short by injuries. McKenna Crabtree started last season as a freshman. Richland (14-12) fell by four points to eventual district runner-up Hartville in the Class 2—District 9 quarterfinals. Four starters are back for coach Charley Parker’s Bears, which was led by two sophomores a season ago. Junior Morgan Moss is one of the top players in the conference and averaged 15.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game last season. Junior Brittany Latham (12.4 PPG) joined her on the All-Frisco League First Team. Stoutland (15-3-1) graduated an elite player in Alexa Willard, who’s now playing collegiately at Missouri State. She led Stoutland in just about every stat category, including scoring. Tekera Stradt, a senior, is a returning all-conference selection for the Tigers, who have a new coach in Nancy Ward. Iberia (15-14) got hot at the right time. The Rangers entered districts as the No. 3 seed and, with a modest 12-13 record, beat a 20-win team (Tipton) and a 19-win team (New Bloomfield) en route to a district championship. Iberia graduated its only all-conference selection in Faith Duncan. Newburg (16-11) is another Frisco League team capable of finishing above .500. The Wolves are led by a pair of returning all-conference players in senior guard Riley Guffey (18.2 PPG, 4.1 APG) and senior forward Audrey Suschanke. Kyndall Copeland averaged nine points and 2.8 rebounds for his sophomore campaign and enters his third year as a varsity starter. “One of our major strengths will be our many ways to score,” McBride said. O-Zone Magazine
Expectations high for Missouri State men’s basketball By Chad Plein When Missouri Valley Conference media day was held in late October, the Missouri State Bears were picked fourth in the preseason poll. Sure, you can’t go against Wichita State, which is looking for its fourth-straight Valley title. Illinois State and Northern Iowa follow the Shockers, and both have deep teams with solid returners for 2016-17. But the distance between the Bears and the top trio could be closer than the votes showed. “I think there are a lot of opportunities for movement,” Bears sixth-year head coach Paul Lusk said. “You want to go in the right direction, of course. “It will be very competitive thanks to the Valley losing nine of top-10 guys on the all-league team. We have a roster that I really like, and I think our guys are ready to try and make a move.” Dequon Miller (5’10”, Sr.) emerges as this year’s leader. He averaged 12.7 points in 34 minutes-pergame and is the lone Bear represented on the preseason’s All-Valley team (second team). “We go as far as [Miller] takes us,” sophomore guard Jarred Dixon (6’3”) said. Along with Miller, center Obediah Church (6’7”, So.) started every game last season for the Bears. Despite averaging only six points per game, Church was the most efficient scorer on the floor for Missouri State in 2015-16, hitting 60 percent of his shots. A human highlight reel who lives above the rim, Church delivers jaw-dropping dunks and added a team-high 50 blocked shots last season. “Being out there as a freshman, that was good for me,” Church said. “I feel like we can be very good [if we] just keep buying into everything that coach says.” Church and Dixon were elected to the Valley’s All-Freshmen team. “I didn’t expect to see that much (time), but that’s a good thing going forward.” Dixon said. “Getting thrown into the fire again this year, I will be different.” A nice surprise last season was another freshman guard, Ryan Kreklow (6’4”). Originally looking at a redshirt, Kreklow didn’t play the first five games of the year. When the calendar flipped to December, the Bears—already without Robin Thompson (6’6”, So.)—lost guards Austin Ruder (6’3”, Jr.) and Shaun Roundtree
(transferred) to injury. Kreklow’s redshirt was lifted and he finished the season as the team’s sixth-highest scorer. Along with the young sophomore core, the Bears have Willard’s Chris Kendrix (6’5”, Jr.), named to the Valley’s Most-Improved Team last season. “I have high expectations for Chris,” Lusk said. “He’s grown a lot and he’ll continue to grow.” Kendrix averaged 12 points and five rebounds per game and was named to the Most-Improved Team after ranking third in the conference in scoring amongst underclassmen. “He puts the work in, and the only person who can stop Chris Kendrix is Chris Kendrix,” Lusk continued. “Trust is a big thing with Chris, and it takes time. [Now] he trusts in the process and in us.” The other local standout suiting up for the Bears this year is Nixa’s Austin Ruder. Ruder only saw action in five games last year thanks to a hip labrum injury that eventually required surgery in February. Ruder was granted a medical hardship and gains an extra season with Missouri State. “That hip labrum is a very difficult deal,” Lusk said. “Just getting him back into the flow [isn’t easy]. [We] hope to have him by the start of the season.” It’s a tentative offseason for another returning letterman, Tyler McCullough (6’11”, Sr.). The big, Fayetteville, Ark.-native played in 28 games for the Bears last year. McCullough has been bothered by a shoulder injury since last season. Heading into the year, the Bears have McCullough and Ruder on the same routine. “They’re both doing conditional drills and skill work,” Lusk said. “Just not contact right now.” The X-Factor for the Bears, along with health, will be the emergence of the junior college transfers. Last year, Miller and Jordan Martin (6’8”, Sr.) clocked valuable minutes and brought tough, gritty, college-level experience to the young team. Missouri State is hoping for a similar transition from Ronnie Rousseau, III (5’10”, Jr.), Jarrid Rhodes (6’6”, Jr.) and Alize Johnson (6’9”, Jr.). “They’re all good players,” Lusk said. “They’re solid guys who will contribute to the program.” Some hype grew over the summer at The Courts Pro-Am league where Rousseau scored 70 points in one game.
Rousseau comes to Springfield from up the road in Sedalia where he attended State Fair Community College. He was named an NJCAA Division I All-American second-teamer after producing 23.2 points per game for the Roadrunners. “We are excited to add Ronnie to our program,” Lusk said. “He was the region player of the year in an outstanding league, and he produces at a high level.” The Bears’ coaching staff was pleased to see their team finish a perfect 3-and-0 over the summer in a tournament in the Bahamas. Beyond wins, the exhibition slate gave Missouri State some extra offseason practices. “A great trip,” Lusk said. “There’s no doubt the summer practices really helped us. They’ve been working very hard and I like our talent. “The guys have taken a lot of ownership [in this team], and that’s what you want as a program. I’ve never been around a gym rat that hasn’t been successful.”
Missouri State Women ready to defend Valley title By Bobby Oler For the first time in a decade, the Missouri State Lady Bears are defending Missouri Valley Conference champs. “I think we’re definitely defending something rather than chasing it now,” junior guard Liza Fruendt said. “There could be pressure there, and if we wanted to put pressure on ourselves it’s there, but I don’t foresee that.” The Lady Bears were picked third in the Valley and received two first-place votes in the preseason conference poll, but this season will hardly be a victory lap. The Lady Bears have 39.3 points per game to replace after the departures of Tyonna Snow, Kenzie Williams and Hillary Chvatal. This year’s senior class is similar in quantity (guard Lexi Hughes and forwards Rachel Swartz and Onye Osemenam), but this group hasn’t been as impactful on the court. The three seniors have combined for just 16 starts in their careers. “Everyone’s going to have more responsibilities,” Osemenam says. “We don’t really have people to lean on, so everyone’s going to have to step up every day in practice, every game, and come ready to give 100 percent.” These Lady Bears are frank about what they lost but still bullish on what they could be. This roster has eight returning players from their conference title squad, plus four freshmen who are expected to contribute. That group includes Stoutland product Alexa Willard, who averaged 31.2 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 3.3 steals per game during her remarkable senior year. Head coach Kellie Harper says at least two of the freshmen need to provide substantive minutes off the bench. “We have 6’1”, 6’2”, and 6’4” out of those four kids,” Harper said. “We have a little speed on the perimeter and I love the length. There’s a little bit of everything.” If they need a model for how to succeed as freshmen, they need only look to the team’s lone sophomore, Danielle Gitzen. She started 19 games a season ago and comes in as MSU’s top returning distributer with 48 assists.
Two established players who must step up this season are sharpshooter Lexi Hughes and dynamic guard Liza Fruendt, who averaged 11 points per game in her sophomore season and was crucial to the team’s success in the MVC tournament. Hughes and Fruendt lead the returning Lady Bears in three-pointers made in 2015-16, but they have only 15 career starts between the two of them. “The roles fit them last year: come off the bench and provide that spark,” Harper said. “That’s perfect for them, but they have to change how they play now. They have to be different because we need them to take on a different role.” “It’s a big opportunity for me to have a big leadership role,” Fruendt said. “Two years of experience with really good players helps you a lot. A championship under my belt puts me in a position to lead others.” As with any program, the junior class will determine a lot about the next two years for MSU. Fruendt figures to assume a starting guard spot, Parkview grad Aubrey Buckley could start at forward after a hip injury shortened her sophomore season, Audrey Holt grew into a starter and enters this season as MSU’s leading returning rebounder, and Lee Ann Polowy has provided important minutes off the bench and timely scoring. “The junior class has big personalities and they’re well respected on the team in terms of what they do on the court,” Harper said. “I think we have potentially really good leadership coming from them. They’ve been there, they’ve done that and they have the experience.” The non-conference schedule should provide a quick assessment of who these Lady Bears are. They’ve got trips to Memphis, Kansas, Southern California (in Alaska) and Mizzou, plus a home date with Arkansas. For MSU to get back to the conference title game for a third year in a row they’ll need to attack the holes that their graduated stars left. Coach Harper is confident this group can do that. “I’m really looking forward to coaching this team and seeing what we can make happen.”
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Head Coach: Steve Hesser 2015-16 Record: 19-8 • GLVC West Champions
2015-16 Record: 26-5 • NCAA Midwest Regional Finalist
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• With three starters and nine lettermen returning, the Panthers are ranked 11th in the country by the Division II Bulletin, a publication that covers NCAA-Division II basketball. They’re picked to finish second in the GLVC West. • Drury’s major challenge this season will be finding someone to take the leadership role and talent gap left by the departure of Nixa’s Kameron Bundy, an All-American guard who averaged 20 points and led the team in assists last season. Bundy was the last holdover from the 2013 national championship team. • Drury returns a pair of starters who averaged in double-figures last year: 6-foot all-conference point guard Tevin Foster, who averaged 15 points, four assists, and 46 percent from three-point land; and 6’7” forward Joshua Palmer, who contributed 10 points and 5 rebounds per game. • Newcomers to watch for at guard include: 6’1” Cameron Ricks, who averaged 12 points last season at Arkansas St. Mid-South Community College; 6’1” Isaac Johnson, an all-stater who led Kickapoo to a state runner-up finish and played well in Drury’s summer exhibition series in Canada; and 6’4” Alex Moore, who made all-state as a junior before missing his senior year at Duchesne because of a knee injury. • In addition to Foster, returning guards include 6’1” sophomore John Williams, who played in 16 games for Drury as a freshman with a season-high seven points and 6’4” sophomore Grant Boswell from Strafford, who played in 26 games with a season-high 10 points. • Besides Palmer, the frontline includes: 6’7” junior Drew Moore, who was the leading rebounder (5.7), averaging eight points; another Moore, Douglas, who averaged five points and 4.2 rebounds; and 6’7” Jamal Cummings led the Panthers with a 55 percent field goal percentage and had five double-figure scoring games.
• The Lady Panthers return three starters and seven lettermen from team that went 26-5 last season, won the GLVC West Division title and made it to the NCAA Midwest Regional Championship game. They lost two of their top guards and leaders, Annie Armstrong and Addy Roller. • Class-wise, this year’s roster is heavy at both ends and thin in-between with seven freshmen, four seniors, but just two sophomores and one junior. • The Division II Bulletin, a publication that covers NCAA-Division II basketball, has Drury ranked 19th in the nation. • The four seniors will be critical to the Lady Panthers success: Alice Heinzler, a 5’7” guard from Republic averaged 11 points last year; 5’8” guard Paige Wilson led the GLVC in three-point shooting; 6’0” forward Briana Jones averaged seven points and can shoot the trey; and 6’1” forward Hannah Dressler was a third-team All-GLVC honoree who averaged eight points and seven rebounds. • The underclassmen include 5’9” junior guard Heather Harman, who had eight double-figure games last season and ranked third on the team with assists; and 6’3” center/ forward Adrienne Horn, who shot 49 percent from the field, had 11 double-figure games. • The seven freshmen are an impressive group: 5-8 guard Lexie Vaught led Crane to a pair of state titles and a 123-7 record; 5’11” forward Hailey Diestelkamp was one of ESPN’s top 100 guards last year averaging 25 points and 12 rebounds at Owensville; 5’7” guard Daejah Bernard was an all-stater who led St. Joseph Benton to a 31-0 record and state title; 5’10” forward Brooke Stanfield was a three-time All-State selection at Republic ; and 5’6” guard Alyssa Owens as the all-time leading scorer at Russellville, Ark. • Head Coach Molly Miller, now in her third year, has gone 52-9 (33-3 in the GLVC) and has made it to the NCAA tournament every year.
Coach Steve Hesser on this year’s team: “We have depth. We’ll play nine of 10 people. But the real key is how quickly our inexperienced guards learn what it takes to compete at the higher level.”
Coach Molly Miller on this year’s team: “We have a lot of talent but it’s going to be a work-in-progress the whole year. I’m excited to see it evolve because day one is going to be completely different than day 101.”
Head Coach: Molly Miller
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Head Coach: Steve Jenkins 2015-16 Record: 7-23
Head Coach: Leon Neal 2015-16 Record: 9-19
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• After being picked to win the Heart of American Athletic Conference and 8th nationally in the NAIA Preseason Poll, Evangel won just seven games to finish last in the league a season ago. • The Crusaders return their top three scorers from last year’s club that averaged more points than when they won the HAAC Regular Season crown in 2014-15, including second-team all-conference senior guard Nick Yocum (15.9 PPG). • Junior forward Cody Geiger (Republic) ranked in the top-ten nationally in field goal percentage (.577) while ranking second on the team with 13 points per night. • Guard Richard Chapman also returns for his senior season after pouring in 12 points per game. • The Crusaders will have to replace their leading rebounder (209) and assist (85) man in Nixa product Jalen Norman. • Evangel’s schedule features six games versus ranked opponents, including No. 8 MidAmerica Nazarene, which reached the NAIA Final Four last season after losing to the Crusaders in their regular season home finale.
• The Evangel women enter their 23rd season under Leon Neal after falling to Grand View, 66-60, in the first round of the Heart of America Athletic Conference Tournament last season. • The Lady Crusaders ranked 11th in the HAAC in points per game (57.6) last season, but return their top five scorers, including seniors Allison Swanson (11.5 PPG) and Taylor Longley (9.4 PPG) • Longley is expected to start the season healthy after an ACL injury continued to bother her at the start of 2015. She led the team in rebounding last season, ranked second with 59 assists and will provide stability at guard. • Swanson, a two-time NAIA All-America Honorable Mention, was Evangel’s clear-cut rebounding force last year, pulling down 181 boards - 67 more than any other player. She also blocked 32 shots. • Seven Southwest Missouri players are on the active roster, including new additions Kylee Moore (Crane) and Sophia Shore (Camdenton). Junior guard Madi Johnson (Ash Grove) should also be eligible after transferring from Avila. • Mackenzie Farmer (Mount Vernon) led the Lady Crusaders with 27 steals in her freshman season. She added 7.9 points per game and a team-high 69 assists.
Steve Jenkins on this year’s team: “We have a lot of potential and a lot of new guys, so we started earlier than we normally do. There’s a lot of talent in this year’s class and we’re trying to mold that into a winning basketball team. In the back of most of our returners’ minds is that 7-23 mark last year. From first to worst was not how we envisioned it, but at this point, we can go worst to first.”
Leon Neal on this year’s team: “We’re going to have to ask ourselves every day: ‘Are we practicing harder than those other (HAAC) teams?’ If you can’t anwer that, then that’s your problem right there. We have to be able to work harder to be able to compete with them. We’re not at that (National Championship) level, so we have to work to get there. When we get there, we can celebrate, but right now we’re trying to work to get to where they are.”
HEAD COACH: Steve Shepherd 2015-16 Record: 20-9
HEAD COACH: Becky Vest 2015-16 Record: 28-5
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• The Bobcats are coming off a first round exit in the NAIA-II national tournament held in Point Lookout annually. They have some major pieces to replace with three of their top five scorers departing, including All-American Ethan Murray (Neosho), who averaged a team-leading 21.2 points per game last season. They also lose four-year player Sky Frazier (Willard) and three-year player Joe Young (Rogersville) to graduation. • Fayetteville native Cameron Paschke returns for his fourth and final year with the Bobcats. The 6-0 guard was second on the team with 16.8 ppg last season, earning NAIA All-American honorable mention honors. • The Bobcats are a guard-heavy team, but do feature 6-10 senior Kiefer Starbird; a Bolivar native and Truman State transfer who specializes in blocking shots, rebounding and passing out of the post. • The third and final senior is 6-2 guard Chandler Hall. Shepherd says the Branson native has seen more minutes each year and has worked himself into the regular rotation. • Sophomore forward Ethan Davidson came on strong in the second half of last season. The Hollister native has good NAIA size and athleticism and will move into the starting lineup this season. • Shepherd is excited about a trio of incoming freshmen that include local standout Kyle Cavanaugh (Fair Grove), Brandt Cochran and DeMon Hyler; three players expected to fight for minutes early in their college careers.
• Despite 28 wins last season the Lady Bobcats fell in the second round of the NAIA tournament; earlier than their expectations. More is expected from this group which was picked 7th in the NAIA preseason poll. • Brandy Uchtman (Fordland) graduated with 1,400 career points. She was the Lady Bobcats’ leading scorer. Replacing her leadership won’t be easy, but 76 percent of the scoring from last season returns, including three players who averaged in double digit scoring. • The Lady Bobcats remain young with just two seniors and three juniors, but don’t lack experience on their 12-person roster. • Senior guard Hannah Wisdom earned All-American honorable mention honors last season as the conference’s defensive player of the year. The Skyline product was third on the team with 11 ppg. • Last year’s freshman class made a major impact. Lakin Simmerman (Ash Grove) started all but one game, averaging 11.3 ppg. West Plains grad Cass Johnson came off the bench to score 10.4 ppg. Hillcrest’s Kelsie Cleeton came off the bench, but amazingly led the team in rebounds, assists and steals. • Coach Vest’s recruiting class was small with just two players, but she’s excited about their potential and development already. Branson’s Ashley Forrest (5-9 guard) joins her two brothers who previously played at C of O. Miller’s Jessica Estes (6-1 center) is the team’s tallest player and has made significant strides during the offseason.
Head Coach Steve Shepherd on this year’s team: “I like our leadership. I like the way we shoot it. If we match up athletically and play good defense we’re going to be tough to beat.”
Head Coach Becky Vest on this year’s expectations: “Expectations are high like every season. We expect to compete for the national championship, but we don’t discuss it once the season starts.”
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Head Coach: Clark Sheehy 2015-16 Record: 10-18
Heach Coach: Kelsey Keizer 2015-16 Record: 16-13
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• The Bearcats broke in an almost entirely new roster in Coach Sheehy’s second season at the helm with 16 fresh faces last season that created a major learning curve. • The top-five scorers return from last season, led by 6’6”, 225-pound junior Logan Hovey. The Florida Gulf Coast transfer started 25 games last season, averaging 15.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, garnering All-MIAA Honorable Mention honors. • Senior forward Brian Patterson was the only other Bearcat who scored in double figures last season. The 6’8”, 230-pound Doniphan, Mo. native started all 28 games, putting up 11.6 PPG and shooting 52 percent from the field. • Ten of the seventeen players on this year’s roster are college transfers, including graduate-senior Cartree Pettis, a 6’2”, 185-pound combo guard from Jacksonville University, who Sheehy expects to add athleticism and defense to this year’s squad. • Sheehy says sophomore guard Kai Woodfall had a really good offseason, and expects the Australia native to improve on his 9.1 PPG from last season. • Kickapoo product Matt Ridder redshirted last year after suffering a pair of concussions. The 6’1”, 170-pound redshirt freshman has added 15 pounds of muscle since high school and figures to add a shooting threat off the bench. • The Bearcats feature some world flavor this year with players from France, Australia, England and six different states.
• The Bearcats lost five players from last year’s team that bowed out in the opening round of the MIAA Tournament. Their 16 wins (most since 2008) were a seven-win improvement from Coach Keizer’s first year at the helm. • The top three scorers return led by MIAA Freshman of the Year Caylee Richardson. The Kansas native earned D-II Bulletin Top 5 freshman honors after leading the Bearcats with 13 PPG and 7.8 RPG. • Megan Rosenbohm returns for her junior season. The 5’6” guard was second on the team in scoring last year, while providing stellar defense. Her 53 steals were good for second in the MIAA. • Size is a major strength for this team with seven players 6-foot or taller, including 6’0” sophomore Morgan Henderson, a former all-state player from Buffalo who coach Keizer called the most improved player this offseason. • Five freshman join the roster along with two transfers. That group includes a handful of local prep stars, three of which played in Final Fours in high school: Laura Vierkant (Kickapoo), Bailey Rezabek (Camdenton), Madison Strong (Gainesville) and Kameron Schaaf (El Dorado Springs). • The Bearcats have a tough early schedule that includes a trip to nationally ranked Drury (Nov. 15) and hosting defending NCAA-II national champ Lubbock Christian, Tx. (Dec. 1).
Clark Sheehy on this year’s team: “There’s not much of a margin with any of the teams in the MIAA. That’s the next step we want to take is to be consistently prepared, consistently competitive, and if we do that the results will take care of themselves.”
Kai Woodfall 132
Head Coach Kelsey Keizer on this year’s team: “Chemistry is very important. We’ve got
talent, we play fast, hard and aggressive, and most important we’re learning to play together.”
Caylee Richardson O-Zone Magazine
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Waynesville and Lebanon have reigned atop the Ozark Conference recently. Can someone step up to challenge the Tigers and Yellowjackets? Waynesville lost nine seniors and three state qualifiers to graduation. Leading that group was 195-pound state runner-up Todd Angel and 160-pound fifth-place finisher David Hawk. Coach Lucas Smith does have a strong core back from his Ozark Conference championship team. Sean Sax, who was the Ozark Conference Wrestler of the Year as a sophomore, returns, coming off a 45-4 season that saw him finish fourth at 113 pounds. He should bump up one weight class to 120 pounds this year as he tries to win a third Ozark Conference title. Sophomores Chance Carmack (126), Michael Cassidy (138) and Peter Lucitt (152), along with senior Teyler Burch, return after state-qualifying seasons. “We look pretty young on paper, but there’s quite a bit of experience once we get out there and get wrestling,” Smith said. Mario Powers, a freshman who could see time at 160 and 170, was a double All-American over the summer in competing in the school-boy division of the Junior Nationals. The rest of the projected lineup includes freshman transfer Thomas Brady at 106 and then, from 113 to 120 and 126, Sean Sax, freshman Gavin Sax, junior Aiden Brady, Carmack and freshman Aaron McDaniel. Look for sophomore Daniel Albrecht and Matthew Nels at 145, Floyd Moore at 160, Colby Carmack at 170, junior Devin Stearns at 182, possibly Nick Clay at 220 and returning letterman Pablo Quevas at heavyweight. Given Waynesville competes in the state’s largest classification, trying to reach state won’t be easy. “Something we like to instill is we have kind of a grinder scheduler at certain points of the season,” Smith said. “Be a fighter. It doesn’t matter who you are wrestling. Get that takedown. And not only fight for yourself but your teammates. We’re going to get after it.” Lebanon returns two state qualifiers in sophomore Hunter Lewis, who will look to stay at 106 pounds, and Andrew Young, who will bump up to 138 pounds. The projected lineup includes Hogan Fisher at 113, freshman Cole Roark at 120, Caleb Shields at 126, freshman Trevor Christian or Kyle Johnson at 132, Andrew Young and Kickapoo transfer Cade Schmitz at 138, Reagan Mowery at 145, Ty Glendenning and Tyler Paul at 152, and three-time letterman Braxton Lewis at 160. Roark was a state runner-up in USA Wrestling, where Christian was a two-time state medalist. In the upper weights, look for three-time letterman Dakota Shockley at 170, Brock Reeves at 182, Maxwell Shelton or Landon Smith at 195, Dillon Wagoner at 220 or Wyatt Stone and Elliot Byrd at heavyweight. 138
Lebanon’s ability to reload each year despite graduation losses is a testament to its youth wrestling program. “Our USA program is starting to put quality kids through,” Roark said. “Our numbers have been strong in getting kids out for wrestling. But the numbers gradually have gotten bigger and bigger. About three or four years ago, we were hitting 100. So, if you have kids with five or six years of experience coming into high school, you’re going to be sitting good for a while. It’s a great feeder system.” If there is a team that can challenge the tradition powers of Lebanon and Waynesville, it’s Rolla. The Bulldogs bring back four state placers in coach Marty Hauk’s second season at Rolla. Junior Coleman Brainard is a two-time placer, finishing second two years ago and third at 120 pounds last season. This year he projects to compete at 145 pounds. Seniors Gage Maxwell (fourth at 138) and Tristan Barr (fourth at 126) both return. Maxwell is looking to bump up to the 170-pound range this year, while Barr is looking at 132 pounds. Fellow senior Seth Veatch (sixth at 170 pounds) also returns with 182 pounds as his target for a weight class. Hauck expects to have 70 wrestlers out, which will give the Bulldogs a deep lineup to work with behind the returning talent. “Things have definitely improved from last year. It just takes the kids time to get used to me,” Hauck said. O-Zone Magazine
“The enthusiasm is definitely there.” Joplin is on the rise a year after qualifying a program-best seven wrestlers for the state tournament. “In Joplin, we started out just building,” coach David Myers, now in his fifth season at Joplin, said. “The last couple of years, we improved a lot. The seven state qualifiers were as many as we had in our history (3) at one time. This year, you don’t want to get ahead of yourself, but we could have that many or more.” The Eagles return four of those state qualifiers, including Bobby Owens at 132, Jacob Bartlett at 170, Terrell Crawford at 182 and Soloman Garcia at 195. All four of those wrestlers are upperclassmen with seniors Crawford and Garcia and juniors Owens and Bartlett. That group will lead a room of around 35 wrestlers. “Leadership is a big thing,” Myers said. “With the guys coming back, we could have a lot of success [in the room]. And I think success breeds success. The mentality we have coming in is positively different than in years past.” Camdenton is hoping to build a deeper roster in coach Joe Herman’s second season as the Lakers try to improve upon a fifth-place finish in the Ozark Conference.
The Lakers lose two state placers in Josh Keys (third at 285) and Daniel Meier (fourth at 160). Two wrestlers with state experience return in David Prather and Keegan Darby. Darby qualified for state two years ago at 126 pounds. “(Prather) was a second-year wrestler last year,” Herman said. “He has some real natural athleticism and his energy level is through the roof. And he’s really strong for a kid that never really found the weight room until the last couple of years.” Keep an eye on 152-pound senior Zion Vasquez, a three-year starter. “He’s really looking to make a difference,” Herman said. “He’s fallen short [of a state berth] and he’s doing everything he can to make sure that doesn’t happen.” The rest of the projected lineup includes freshman Wyatt Stamper at 106, freshmen Connor Morgan, Colten Libby or Jacob Fuglsang at 113, junior Gab Blaine or freshman Emilio Zabala at 126, sophomore Gabe Kutz and Prather at 132, junior Blake Lapine at 152 and junior Winton Neal at 160. In the upper weights, look for senior Justin Zabala or freshman Wyatt Jackson at 170, senior Giusep Lopez-Ramirez at 182, junior Mason Tibbens at 195 and senior Alex Jimenez at 220. Marquise Jacoby-Davis was Kickapoo’s lone state qualifier a year ago as a senior at 285 pounds. Even though he is gone, his impact will be felt in the room this year. “Any time we have a kid go to state it helps our program. The kids that don’t make it get a taste of what it takes to make it. It gives them the drive to make it in the future,” Kickapoo coach Billy Buckley said. “Marquise worked really hard to make it and he fell a little short of a medal, but it was great for that kid and our program.” Buckley has several key wrestlers back who hope to make the leap to the state tournament. Tanner Stoops, Tanner Raymond, Tristen Upp, Will Ano’ai, PJ Walker Blake Chambers will all be strong leaders for Kickapoo this year. Kickapoo finished sixth at the Ozark Conference wrestling tournament and hopes to break into the top half this year. “We want to improve on our Conference finish from last year,” Buckley said. “Our conference is one of the strongest in the area and to finish high says a lot about your program. Our season goal is always qualifying kids to the state tournament but we have a long time before that becomes the main focus, but it’s always in the back of our minds.”
lost their lone state qualifier in Trevor Moore to graduation. Junior Angel Diehl, who placed third at the Ozark Conference meet last year, will step into a leadership role this season. “Angel is a heck of a kid and definitely someone I expect to step up and replace Trevor as a leader of this team,” Wood said. “You simply can’t work him too hard and that’s not something you see out of 17 year olds too often. I fully expect him to be a leader of this team and an example to all the younger guys.” Three seniors in Tyler Tindle, DaVontay Carter and Blake Schmidt all have a state qualification on their minds this year. Wood has high aspirations for the Hornets in his first season. “As a whole, I think we can send four guys to state, which would be a big boost to the program’s visibility in the area,” Wood said. “This is just the first year so we have a long way to go before we get up to the level of some other programs in the surrounding areas, but I think this year will be one that we can use to show the value of keeping and retaining seniors in the program.” William Ressel is another new Ozark Conference coach as he takes over Parkview, which did not have a state qualifier last year. Senior Gavin Devic, who will wrestle around 138 or 145 pounds, will lead the way after taking fourth at the Ozark Conference tournament a year ago. “We expect Gavin to have a great season,” Ressel said. “His personal goal is to get to state this year and, when it’s all said and done for him, he should break all of the wrestling records our school has by season’s end.” Sophomores Kenyon Keiber (145) and Bryan Lam (113) along with Senior CJ Loveall (170) are the other top returning wrestlers. Overall, Ressel is aiming at program-wide improvement this season. “As the new coach coming into the program, I am expecting the wrestlers to be ready for change [with] new ideas and different looking practices than they are used to having,” Ressel said. “The expectation is to work hard, get better each day and do things right on and off the mat.”
Glendale also lost its lone state qualifier, Deidryck Tichner, to graduation. “Deidryck wrestled junior varsity for two years under all-state [finisher] Chandler Klein,” Glendale coach Bud Donnell said. “Deidryck came in to his senior year with high goals. He made it to the state tournament and came within a couple points of earning a state medal. His leadership and worth ethic will be missed.” Bailey Fisher returns after placing at the Ozark Conference meet a year ago. He will wrestle at 120 pounds this season. Other top returners will be Ian White (106), Chris Hansen (132) and Brett Davis (220). Several freshmen are battling for spots in the varsity lineup, and senior Ian Marshall is planning to come over from the gridiron to man the heavyweight spot in the lineup. Hilcrest has a new coach in Kris Wood. The Hornets 140
Neosho has been the standard for wrestling in Southwest Missouri and the state for several years now. The Wildcats have won six of the last seven Class 3 state team titles under head coach Jeremy Phillips. This year won’t be the year the Wildcats take a step back despite the graduation of one of the best wrestlers in program history in Kyler Rea, who is now at West Virginia. Also gone are John Williams and Kyle Hostetter, who placed second and third, respectively, last year. Adrian Hitchcock leads the returning wrestlers after a runner-up finish at 220 pounds a season ago. “His dedication and commitment in the offseason was very good,” Phillips said. “My goal for him – and I hope he is stepping up to the challenge I’m giving him – is to be ranked nationally. That will set up him to be recruited next year.” Other key returning wrestlers include 120-pound state runner-up Trenton Young, three-time state medalist Dalton Kivett, two-time medalist Gannon Millard, and lettermen John Meyer, Zachary Plummer, Robert Davis and Johnsper Septey. In addition to the strong returning core, keep an eye on a trio of freshmen: Brady Franklin, Kolton Sanders and Bret Camerer. Should they make varsity, they could be challenged at the Kansas City Stampede, one of the most challenging tournaments of the season. Willard has continued its rise to one of the area’s top programs each year. Hunter Yeargan, who was a state runner-up a year ago, has graduated and moved on to Ohio University. Kyle Caldwell is also gone and now wrestling for Drury. What Willard coach Justin Wisdom does have back is a big piece in defending state champion Niko Chavez. “There are high expectations for him,” Wisdom said. “He’s had a lot of success in the postseason and preseason. Him coming back as a senior is going to be great for our team.” Chavez won the 138-pound title in the final seconds last season. This year he will bump up to 152 pounds. Christian Smart and Alex Garrett also return to the lineup. Smart was fourth at 182 pounds last season and will bump up to 195 this year. Garrett will wrestle 126 pounds after finishing fifth at 120 pounds as a sophomore. Austin Hymer, a state qualifier last year, is back at 220 pounds. The rest of the projected lineup looks like this: freshman Riley Wertz at 106, Jonah Peters at 113, Tallon Heimbach at 120, junior Bruin Wildermuth at 132, sophomore Gracie Lawhon at 138, senior 142
James Stagner at 145, junior Aaron Schuerger at 160, senior Morgan Earl at 170 and Cameron Caldwell at 182. Martin Eidson is back at heavyweight after winning 24 matches last season, his first in wrestling. Kenny Brown has coached just one state champion in his time at the helm of the Carthage wrestling program. He hopes to change that this year. One of Carthage’s best contenders this year should be Markkel Moore, a senior who was a runner-up at 145 pounds last season and placed fifth at 138 in 2015. He lost in the finals against Platte County’s Ethan Karsten, now wrestling for the University of Missouri. Moore finished with a 40-11 record. “Markkel, he got stronger over the summer,” Brown said. “He’s a real strong kid, and I’m looking for him to make some noise at the state tournament.” Sophomore Dalen Moore (fifth at 106) and juniors Nick Norbury (at 113) and Corben Pugh (at 120) also qualified for state last season, with each likely moving up at least a weight class in the early going this season. Dalen Moore is intriguing because he gained so much varsity experience as a freshman. He won 39 matches and wasn’t far from being in the mid-40s. The rest of the projected lineup is: freshmen Kolbe and Tanner Russow at 106, junior Edler Reyers O-Zone Magazine
at 126, juniors Phillip Taylor or Jacob Harden at 132, juniors Leevon Harrison or Ymbar Polanco at 152, junior Dillon Lancaster at 160, senior Kale Vogt at 170, seniors Gage Bloomer or Brycen Cartwright at 182, junior William Prince or sophomore Josue Gonzalez at 195, senior Justin Davis at 220 and either senior Yeizon Cifuentes or freshman Brener Ocan at 285. Webb City will again rely on multisport athletes to fill out its roster with 12 of the team’s projected 14 starters playing a fall sport. Leading the way will be the defending Class 3 220-pound champion Brandon Musselman, who is bumping up to 285 this year. He will likely will be one of the lighter heavyweights, up to about 230 pounds. But his footwork and all-around skillset should make him a contender again. Plus, he enjoyed a 50-win season in earning only the fourth state championship in Webb City wrestling history. “He’s a huge asset to our program,” Head Coach Larron Hurst said. “He’s in a leadership role and he is someone our high school kids look up, our middle school kids look up to and our youth wrestling kids look up to. And it goes beyond the wrestling mat.” Two others return who have a combined four state medals in senior Tristan Allen at 132 and senior Hunter Vanlue at 170. Vanlue is the team’s only three-sport athlete. He also is a state medalist in track and a talented football player. He placed fifth in 2014 and fourth in 2015 at 170, reaching the semifinals in 2015. “He’s looking forward to having another good run,” Hurst said. “He has worked hard. He’s one of those individuals that, when success comes his way, he wants to keep going.” Allen missed out on state last season, but has two state medals to his name. “I think he’ll bounce back from last year,” Hurst said. “I think he’ll have a successful year.” Also look out for Kyler Carter at 106, freshman Josh Copher at 113, freshman Jackson Taylor at 120, junior Riley McFall at 126, senior Carson Cornell at 138, sophomore Zack Hand at 145, junior David Maynard at 152, sophomore Gibson Sweet at 160, junior Jordan Rogers at 182, junior Drake Tweed at 195 and sophomore Matt Miller at 220. 144
Dustin Martin is expecting a full lineup for his Nixa Eagles that features seven returning starters and a number of letterwinners, including state qualifiers Mason Simmons and Donovan Benetti. “Our older kids showed pretty good commitment,” said Martin, now in his ninth season overseeing the program. “In summer, we don’t push them real hard because they are football players (already working out) and they work jobs. But we had open mats.” Benetti had a strong sophomore season at 182 pounds last year. He is up to 195 pounds in the early going this season “He’s a big strong kid and may make a cut to make 182. Which is a good thing,” Martin said. “He works hard in the weight room and in the wrestling room. I don’t see why he couldn’t compete for a state title this year.” Benetti is one of 16 returning letterwinners or returning starters. The lineup projects as this: freshman Hunter Christeson (106), junior Devon Owens (113), junior Chandler McAtee (120), senior Mason Wilcox (126), senior Andrew Curry (132), junior Charles Hawkins (138), junior Jordan Eli (145), Simmons at 152, senior Noah Gates (160), junior Trevor Rock (160), junior Cody Harris (170), senior Anthony Patinksy (182), senior Skyler Benetti (182), junior Ozzie Garcia (220) and heavyweights and seniors Johnathan Ghering and Tucker Snow. Connor Snyder, a senior, could factor anywhere from 138 to 160 pounds.
Skyler Harris, Hunter Holderfield and Jacob Ulrich. Heavyweight Zeke Wall is the lone returning state qualifier for new Carl Junction coach Ty Jacquess. Jacquess comes over ready to build the Bulldog program after stints at Kansas schools Chanute and Pittsburg. “I’m going to build from within,” said Jaquess.
Ozark is trending in the right direction under second-year head coach Shawn Kellis. “We have very high expectations, and we have a very large junior class, so we should be strong the next two years,” Kellis said, and later added, “All the juniors we have, I coached them since they were in the seventh grade. This is the year we are supposed to return to the Ozark we used to be. But we have work to do.” The projected lineup looks like this: freshman Wyatt Snyder at 106, Larry Zelaya at 120, open at 132, Cooper St. John at 138, Preston Sundlie at 145, Barrett Beaird at 152, and Nicky Gladkov at 160. In the upper weights, the lineup could be either Tyson Albright or Ryan Taylor at 170 and 182, with Nathanial Burlage at 195, Stephen Gladkov at 220 and Jace Gorn at 285. “They’re motivated to get going,” Kellis said. “The room is getting so competitive that guys are nervous if they’re going to see the mat.” Garrett Hawkins moves over from Parkview to take the head coaching job at Branson this season. “I’m more than excited to be at Branson,” Hawkins said. “It’s a great place. This fall, we have been focused on grades and character, making sure we are representing our team well in the classroom and hallways. Wrestlers not involved in a fall sport are attending offseason workouts and open mats.” The roster excites Hawkins. About 40 athletes have joined the team, and Hawkins got a look at it over the summer. Going in, he envisions at least six wrestlers at reaching the state tournament and earning medals. That’s double from a year ago. The team has three returning state qualifiers in
“It’ll take a while, but we’re taking steps in the right direction.” Carl Junction could field a full team. The projected lineup includes Chris Gordon at 106, Joshua Elllerman at 113, Holden Hughes at 120, senior Tyler Church at 126, Karson Maxwell and Dalton Honey at 132, Brooks Neria at 138 and freshmen Cory Barker and Isaac Shields at 145. Church was a state qualifier two years ago. Look for Jesse Kennedy at 152, Kobe Maxwell at 160, Brendan Gilbert at 170, Kitch Chanel at 182, Quenton Crow at 195 and Matt Hosp and Micah Lieberman at 220.
The Big 8, COC-Small and outlying areas are home to some of the top wrestling programs in Southwest Missouri. Seneca won its first team state title since 2010 last season, and the Indians are poised for a repeat this year with a lot of talent back. Jesse Rhoades won the 138-pound title with a 55-1 record as a senior, but three state champions including senior Trey Smith, junior Max Roark and sophomore Dalton Hembree return. Smith won 50 matches and the 145-pound weight class last season. Look for Roark to compete at either 120 or 126 after winning 48 matches last year and winning the 106-pound weight class. Hembree could be at 126 or 132 after winning the 120-pound weight class and finishing with 57 victories. He is also healthy after competing despite an elbow injury late last season. The other returning state qualifiers are sophomore Dayton Fields (132 or 138), Cole Hatfield (138 or 145), Dawson Stephens (132 or 138), Taylor Cook (170 or 182), Lance Hymer (170 or 182) and Matt Caputo (145 to 152). Other notables are seniors Chase Schrader, Blake Hodge, Levi Connelly and Cale Schrader. Tradition-rich Monett finished ninth at the Class 2 State Tournament last year. Coach Daryl Bradley expects an even stronger showing this season with three returning state medalists and three other state qualifiers back. Start with junior Joel Barrientos, now at 120 after placing fourth and sixth in each of the past two seasons in the 106-pound weight class. Last season, he rallied through the consolation side of the bracket following an overtime loss in a quarterfinal against Smithville’s Black Ackerman, the eventual state champion. Senior Aaron Howard is at 138 after placing fifth at 126, and senior Ian Meyer is at 195 after placing fifth at 182. Angel Rabdon at 126 also qualified last season, while senior Brody Crawford is at 145 and Desmond Hill at 160 after reaching district tournament bubble matches last season. The rest of the projected lineup features freshmen Joey Semerad at 106 Karter Brink and Jace Stowe at 113, sophomore Peyton Hatfield at 126, freshman Gunnar Bradley and junior Jason Ehrhardt at 132, sophomore Aaron Hoyt at 145, and four candidates at 152 – sophomores Josh Bahl and Jordan Withnell, junior Cody Thompson and freshman Cye Bouchard. The upper weights include five at 160 – junior 146
Desmond Hill and sophomores Kellar McCully, Adam Card, Luke Allock and freshman Logan Umfleet. Meanwhile, sophomores Francisco Reed, Kelly McCully and Adam Card will compete at 170, while freshman Wesley Merriman, senior Travis Wentz and junior Alonso Rueda are at 182. Trevor Prewitt, a junior, is at heavyweight. Buffalo is on the rise and moving down from Class 2 to Class 1 this season. “I’d like to say (moving down) will give us the opportunity to qualify more kids to state and I’d like to say it will help win a district title, but there’s some tough competition,” new Buffalo coach Nate Kenady said. Kenady has a strong core of wrestlers back in his first season as head coach. Sophomores Ethan Smith and Floyd Miller both placed fifth at 106 and 152, respectively, last season, while senior Trenton Houston (138), senior Blake Williamson (195), senior Austin Reed (170), Colten Kenady (182) and heavyweight Shane Sisco will look to return after moving up in weight classes. All the seniors should reach 100 career wins, too, this season. The rest of the projected lineup includes freshman Lizzie Miller at 106, Smith either at 113 or 120, freshman and successful USA Kids Wrestling competitor Blake Daher at 126, Marcus Autry at 145, Charles Middleton at 152, Ashton Vogler at 160, Colten Kenady at 182 and freshman Levi Kenady at 220. McDonald County returns two state qualifiers in 113-pound Jacob Gerow and heavyweight Tinker Kinser. Truman Craig is a three-year letterman who could be at 152 or 160, and 138-pound Christian Willmann is a two-year starter. A handful of candidates will compete at 106, including freshman Oscar Ortiz, Erin Yang, Caleb Misener and Keagon Spurgeon. Johann Delacruz is expected to move up from 106 to 113. Freshman David Lazalde could be in the mix in the lower weights, too. Freshman Jack Bowers could be at 138 or 145, while senior Nathaniel Johnny and freshman Omar Manuel are listed at 152. Timber Bowers at 182, and transfer Kammeron Barnes at 195 also could see varsity time.
Jason Carter enters his second season as the head coach of Rogersville. He brings back a strong group that includes four state qualifiers who made great strides in the offseason according to Carter. The returning state qualifiers are Brock Carter, Caleb Swearingin, Lucas Campbell and Isaac Swearengin. Carter could move to 126 pounds after competing at 113 last season, while Caleb Swearengin may head to either the 138- or 145-pound weight class after competing at 126. Campbell was at 132 and could return there, if not move to 138. Isaac Swearingin also may return to 152, or compete at 160. Those who just missed out on a state tournament berth last season were Preston Sleeth (likely back at 106), Isaiah Smythe (competing anywhere from 132 to 152), Devin Vickery (171 to 182) and Noah Gann (heavyweight class). Marshfield and coach Matt Holt have reason to be optimistic as the curtain rises on a new wrestling season. For one, the Blue Jays enjoyed success last season in finishing second in the COC Small. Marshfield’s projected lineup features: freshman Raymond Moore at 106, Bryan Yarbrough at 113, sophomore Nick Hill at 120, junior Patrick Wilson at 126, sophomore Jacob Kolb at 132, senior Zach Fritz at either 138 or 145, sophomore Zach Kurre at 138, sophomore Klayton Brooks at 145, freshman Clay Wilson at 152, senior M.J. Jenkins and freshman Jordon Irwin at 170, sophomore Deryl VanNostrand at 182, freshman Travin Plemmons and sophomore Tristen Burton at 195, junior Chance Totten at 220 and senior Devin Myers at 285. Patrick Wilson needs about 20 wins to reach his 100th career victory. Kolb is a three-year starter. VanNostrand won 40 matches a year ago. Another name is Chris Crotinger, who missed last season because of a knee injury but was 29-18 as a sophomore. Hollister is on the rise after qualifying its first wrestler for state in program history in heavyweight Brandon Gandy. Josh Neville also returns after coming up one win short of a trip to state last year. Coach Joe Pence also expects returners Matt Cozart and Braedon Newell to be factors. Newcomers include Austin Hove, Wolfe Redman along with Emily Chambers at 106 pounds. O-Zone Magazine
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Missouri’s Fastest Swimmer Rules Swimming’s Fastest Event By Matt Turer
Part of a class of 37 students at New Covenant Academy stands Molly Moore, and she’s faster than you. The 50-yard freestyle is the fastest event in swimming. It’s the pool’s equivalent of the 100-yard dash. Winning by two-tenths of a second might as well be an eternity. Turns out, Moore is an eternity ahead of anyone else at the high-school level in Missouri. Whoops. The junior took first in the event at last year’s state meet by, you guessed it, two-tenths of a second. Don’t tell her lightning and water don’t mix. But for all that speed—her 23.66 time is just 0.42 seconds behind a state record she has two years to break—and all her success—she also anchored Summit Prep’s fourthplace 200-yard freestyle relay team and placed seventh in the 100-yard backstroke—Moore’s unassuming personality is as striking as her power in the pool. “When I touched the wall after winning the 50, I didn’t even know I’d won yet. I looked at my time and thought I‘d gotten first. But the girl that got second, I looked over and thought, ‘Oh my goodness, I should’ve let her win. I just broke her heart. That is so mean. That is not nice.’ It was one of those feelings where it was her senior year and I just ruined it,” Moore said. Moore’s character finds its roots in the same place as her talents: faith and family. Her mom, Angie Moore, and her aunt swam at Drury University. Her cousins, Katie and Claire McCune, swim and run cross country with Moore at New Covenant Academy, which swims in a co-op with Summit Preparatory School. “My family is mostly all athletes,” Moore said. “They’ve grown up athletes. Being in this big family, all my cousins and my sister all got to be competitive, but in a positive way. We have to keep it real and kind and humble-hearted.” In part, it’s that competitive upbringing that makes Moore such a threat in a sport that requires such a high level of individual inner focus. But Moore pulls that motivation and that speed from a higher kind of power as well.
“I pray every time I’m behind the block and when I’m in the ready room,” she said. “If there’s one thing that sets me apart from lots of the other [swimmers], it’s peace. I have lots of peace before I race. I think of how blessed I am that God put me in a situation to further Him. “When I touched the wall [in the 50-yard freestyle], I thought how amazing and awesome this opportunity is that God has given me. Because there are people not even getting water in third-world countries. They have to walk miles and miles to get water. But I’m swimming in this big tank and big pool of it that’s readily available to me.” That big tank of water has been Moore’s athletic canvas for years. She started swimming not long after she learned how to walk and, thanks to her mom coaching Kickapoo swimming for eight years, did so in nearly the same environment. “I kind of grew up around the pool and learned to walk on the pool deck,” Moore said. “My mom used to set up kick boards around me while she was coaching. It’s just been my life. I love it.” Now a pretty good walker and an expert swimmer, Moore has become the face of the best little swim team in the state. Summit Prep placed ninth out of 48 teams in last year’s state meet, and it’s the enrollment numbers that make that success so striking. Including the New Covenant co-op, the two schools combine for approximately 470 students. No other school in last winter’s top-10 state finishers has fewer than 1,224 students, averaging an overpowering enrollment of 1,790. Outside of Moore, Summit’s little swim team took fifth in 1-meter diving, thanks to now-graduated Krista Shimizu, and fourth in the 200-yard freestyle relay. (They may have finished even higher, but the 400-yard freestyle relay squad of Claire McCune, Claire Workman, Katie McCune and Moore was disqualified). Cracking the top-10 might prove tougher this time around with Shimizu graduating and Workman not returning to the swim team, but with Moore and the McCune twins, repeated success is far from out of reach. “It’s crazy,” Moore said. “It’s so weird how everything ties together. How we’re cousins and get to succeed together. It’s definitely surreal.” Moore hasn’t delved into the idea of swimming on the college level, but that will come. For now, her focus is on improving her times and becoming a more well-rounded threat in the pool. “I definitely prepare and push myself to work on other events too,” she said. “I have awesome parents who push me so hard and push me to my greatness. I have awesome coaches who want to see me succeed, and that’s so helpful. Because without that, there’d be no encouragement.” Always the fast starter, it’s no surprise that, when out of the pool, Moore lives for wake-up calls, eggs and sunshine. “Oh my goodness, I love breakfast,” she said. “Every
time I eat breakfast in the morning, I can’t wait until the next morning. And I love sunrises. If you see any of my social media, it’s more than 50 percent sunrises or sunsets. That’s like God saying, ‘Hello, this is the new day.’ Every night we go to sleep, we’re not promised to wake up in the morning. God is so good and, every morning, even if there’s no sunrise, I just praise him because it’s another morning and I get to live.” Want to swim fast? Be like Molly Moore: Get up early, post a sunrise on Instagram and down some eggs, sausage and hash browns. But even then, she’ll still be faster than you. One of Moore’s future goals is reaching an Olympic-trial qualifying time (she’s eight-tenths of a second away in the 50-free), but don’t mistake that motivation for a desire to be remembered as just a swimmer. This is a girl who is as proud of her involvement in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Future Business Leaders of America as any accomplishment she’s brought home in the water. “Even if I do make the Olympic trial cut in four years, I want to be known for more than that,” Moore said. “Just, like, positivity and motivation. I want to be known for more than just swimming, but for my character.”
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