We’re adding a new feature to the high school basketball preview mix this year with the American Family Insurance Preseason All-Ozarks basketball team.
This is not a traditional award, per se, but just more to spur conversation about the season ahead.
Our more official All-Ozarks basketball teams will be released in the spring after the season is over. I’m interested to see how much these teams differ from the ones we pick at the end of the season.
I picked these teams, but I checked in with area high school coaches to see if any of them had any input.
For the boys, the starting point was easy with perhaps the two best players in the area at Nixa with seniors Jalen Norman and Austin Ruder. Norman is the only holdover from last year’s team, and Ruder has narrowly missed making All-Ozarks for two seasons now.
Then it got tough, but we went with Parkview’s Erik Durham, Willard’s Chris Kendrix and Joplin’s Charlie Brown.
Durham is the only player from Springfield who made our preseason list, a rarity for any All-Ozarks basketball team. He really took ownership of the Parkview team at the end of last season, and we’re looking for a big year from him.
Kendrix and Brown are more picks for potential. Both players have put up stats in their short high school careers, but the way the juniors can finalize their spots on the postseason list is by leading their teams to good seasons.
Plenty of good players, like Austin Essick of Billings, Kickapoo’s Chris Ward, Austin Petry and Roy Hardy of Hillcrest, and Mount Vernon’s Shane Williams were left off this list. We’ll see if their play this season warrants inclusion at the end of the year.
Of course, players we didn’t even list today are also eligible, and we always love a surprise.
For the girls, the selections were much tougher. There isn’t a single slam dunk choice, and honestly, I’m not sure our selections would definitely beat a team of the next five best players that could be picked.
First, we went with holdovers from last year’s team in Alice Heinzler of Republic and Andi Haney of West Plains. There’s no reason to think those two can’t repeat their solid seasons.
The final selections ended up being a trio of juniors: Marshfield’s Lauren Aldridge, Ozark’s Hannah Cook and Parkview’s Aubrey Buckley.
Aldridge is a scoring weapon who should be playing major college hoops in a couple of seasons, Cook combines talent and size for a lethal combination, and Buckley has the ability to dominate the post on both sides of the court.
The players left off are an accomplished set, with Ozark’s Haylee Beard, Republic’s Alex Botkin and Sarah Kreul, Branson’s Moriah Dapprich, Walnut Grove’s Heather Harman, Mount Vernon’s Tamiaya Henderson, Nixa’s Jeana Raper and Marionville’s Josie Young among them.
I suspect the girls’ team could look different come March.
The Springfield Tipoff Club tips off at noon today at Coyote’s Adobe Cafe, 1742 S. Glenstone Ave.
The club, which has held meetings since 1952, features updates from Springfield’s high school and college basketball coaches.
The luncheon costs $9 and is open to the public.
What a Machine
The Massey ratings closed the high school football season with a flurry, going 6-0 in predicting the state championship game winners over the weekend for our weekly Man Vs. Machine contest.
Meanwhile, I went 4-2, meaning we tied this season at 310-83.
I will have vengeance — in this life or the next.
Contact Matt Schoch at 417-836-1191 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @MattSchochNL.
The American Family Insurance Preseason All-Ozarks Basketball Teams:
Charlie Brown, Joplin, jr.
Erik Durham, Parkview, sr.
Chris Kendrix, Willard, sr.
Jalen Norman, Nixa, sr.
Austin Ruder, Nixa, sr.
Lauren Aldridge, Marshfield, jr.
Aubrey Buckley, Parkview, jr.
Hannah Cook, Ozark, jr.
Andi Haney, West Plains, sr.
Alice Heinzler, Republic, sr.