In 1991, many 9-year-old boys were pressuring their parents to upgrade from Nintendo to Super Nintendo, or to buy them a new pair of Reebok Pumps.
But as a young water boy on the bench as his dad guided the Greenwood boys basketball team, Trevyor Fisher was asking questions out of his age range.
“He was always asking questions,” said Mark Fisher, now the athletic director at Springfield Public Schools. “Like, why did you take someone out who had two fouls in the first half? Why did you move from man-to-man to zone defense? Maybe that wasn’t typical of your average kid.”
Trevyor has become a basketball coach, just as his dad figured he would. And he’s already a pretty successful one.
In his first year as a head coach, Fisher has the Republic Tigers back to Class 4 state. Beginning with Thursday’s state semifinal against Liberty North, the Tigers are two wins away from a boys basketball state championship — 50 years since Howard Arndt and Don Carlson won Republic’s only title in 1963.
Despite being a first-year coach and newcomer to the high school ranks, Fisher, 31, has been groomed for the post since his youth.
“We’ve just tried to keep everything the same,” Trevyor Fisher said. “We’re keeping to the same script, and trying to keep it as normal as possible.”
After Mark Fisher’s Greenwood team lost the 1991 Class 1A final to Scott County Central at Springfield’s Hammons Student Center, then-water boy Trevyor said he cried in the locker room.
That was the last year a state championship game was held outside of Columbia, the home of the University of Missouri.
Now, Fisher will be taking his first trip ever to Mizzou Arena, which has hosted the state basketball finals since 2005.
An All-Ozarks player in 2000 for Greenwood, Fisher led the Bluejays to the state tournament as a senior, his fourth year as a starter. Also an all-state golfer, the 6-foot guard averaged 21.5 points per game in his final year.
He then played four years under Barry Hinson at Missouri State, serving as a co-captain his senior year in 2004-05. Fisher then served as director of basketball operations for seven seasons on staffs for Hinson, Cuonzo Martin and Paul Lusk.
Being around coaches his whole life has allowed him to learn different approaches, on and off the court.
The Republic players said he’s brought a college mentality to the high school floor, an approach that does not surprise Pat Baldwin, an MSU assistant who coached with Fisher for one season.
“It’s about understanding what your players can do, and what their strengths are,” Baldwin said. “You don’t cram set after set after set. You just get them ready for certain situations, and let their instincts do a lot of it.”
The Tigers will be returning for the first time since Gary Stanfield coached them to a fourth-place finish in 2010.
Stanfield stepped down after last year, telling the team in the locker room after a district loss that he was retiring.
Senior Grant Hancock, who came off the bench as a freshman in 2010, said Stanfield taught his classmates a lot about winning basketball.
But Hancock said Fisher, with more of a collegiate approach in letting players learn offensive principles instead of sets, has helped put the Tigers over the top.
“Coach Stanfield was a great coach, but it’s two completely different systems,” Hancock said. “Coach Fisher’s system fit this team perfectly.”
After the players saw a few familiar faces from the area coaching scene interview at Republic, Fisher was hired in April and met with his players shortly after.
The players did not know Fisher, however, only knowing the family from playing against Trevyor’s younger brother, Ben, when he was at Nixa.
But senior Jake Fletcher said was surprised from the first meeting in the Republic auditorium how much Trevyor Fisher already knew about them.
“He knew everyone before we started,” Fletcher said. “He was watching film even before he had the job. We took off running right from the get-go.”
Republic won the Greenwood Blue and Gold Tournament’s Gold Division for the second straight season in December, outlasting Parkview in a slow-paced game.
The Tigers (26-4) spent the season ranked statewide in Class 4, and won 15 of their first 16 games. After a tight Central Ozark Conference loss to Nixa and a blowout loss at Willard, Republic regrouped to upend COC champion Branson in the final game.
Republic Athletic Director Greg Garton, who played on the 1980 Republic state runner-up team, said Fisher’s level head during tough times has been reassuring.
“He just always seemed to have a very level, even keel and a confidence that we were going to learn from those games,” Garton said. “I’m sure there were a few people that questioned hired a coach that had not technically proven himself at the high school level.
“To me, he’s just proven what I knew he had in him.”