All of the first five are bound for college sports.
The Springfield News-Leader honored its 2015 American Family Insurance All-USA Ozarks high school boys basketball team Wednesday with a banquet in Springfield. Five players: Tyson Batiste of Kickapoo, Jacob Ruder of Nixa, Brady Petry of Hillcrest, Grant Boswell of Strafford and Zach Chastain of Crane earned first team All-Ozarks status based on the body of work put into their senior campaigns. Twelve additional players are named second-team All-Ozarks for the 2014-2015 season.
The News-Leader staff selects All-Ozarks honorees based on several qualities. While statistical output is a factor, qualities such as a player’s value to their team, leadership and dedication to basketball are considered.
2015 American Family Insurance First Team All-USA Ozarks
Tyson Batiste, senior G, Kickapoo
His stats don’t jump off the page, but it’s perhaps what Batiste didn’t do – hog the ball – that made him the top player on a good, balanced Kickapoo team. Five Chiefs players finished the season with scoring averages within 1.1 points of one another, with Batiste leading the way at 10.1 points per game.
Kickapoo went 24-5 and won a share of the Ozark Conference title.
“I was happy that we had a 20-win season, my fourth one in a row. I mean, that meant more to me than being all-state or whatever,” Batiste said. “That’s just extra icing on the cake.”
University of Arkansas-Little Rock coach Steve Shields praised Batiste for his intelligence and leadership ability, and plans to have Batiste play point guard for the Trojans.
Batiste plans to pursue his interests in business and economics in college. How he adjusts to life without his Kickapoo teammates will be something to watch.
“There are six of us that have grown up and been playing together since about fourth grade,” Batiste said. “Everybody bought in. That was the biggest problem, at the beginning of the season was talking about that we’d be too selfish, or too many egos, but we figured it out and we played really well together.”
Jacob Ruder, senior F, Nixa
The 6-foot-7 but highly-skilled Ruder shot 35.8 percent from three-point land and had a penchant for beating the buzzer. Ruder set a school record for 3-pointers made in a career with 87, surpassing the old mark of 86 that his brother Austin Ruder, now with Missouri State, held.
“The memories I have are more of just the guys being around each other, getting to play with my brother, going to state my freshman year, some great wins, great seasons and great memories,” Ruder said.
Jacob Ruder scored 20.5 points and hauled down seven rebounds per game. His future lies in baseball, as he is signed to be a pitcher at Kansas State. He will enter college as an accounting major.
“I’ll miss (basketball). I have great memories, but I think it’s time for the new chapter, and I enjoy baseball,” Ruder said.
Brady Petry, senior G, Hillcrest
The unquestioned leader of Hillcrest’s 2015 Class 4 state runner-up garnered the Springfield Tipoff Club MVP award for his senior season. Petry seemed to save his best for the end as Hillcrest turned a 13-11 regular season into a 19-12 overall record and a second-place finish. Petry says he will miss all of his teammates from Hillcrest.
“I feel bad because I’m leaving them. I’m close to all of them, but at the same time I think they’ll do big things when I’m gone,” Petry said. “They got a lot of experience, they got what they needed, and now they’re going to take what they used this year and make it even better next year.”
Petry averaged 21.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. He shot 49.8 percent from the floor and 30.6 percent from downtown. He was an all-Ozark Conference and Class 4 all-state selection.
“I won’t remember everything forever, but I’ll remember the awards forever,” said Petry, who will play at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin.
Zach Chastain, senior G, Crane
Chastain stepped up his role as team captain when former Crane coach Dale Lamberth was suspended and then resigned in the midst of a 19-game winning streak. Chastain and fellow seniors Jake Sowell, Sam Sowell and Clay Stumpff took it upon themselves to win and win big, all the way to the final four.
“I’ve been playing with those guys since I was little. From kindergarten all the way up, we’ve been playing together. We’ve always talked about going (to the state championships) and once we did we were all just so happy and thankful that we made it there,” Chastain said.
Chastain averaged 17.6 points and 3.2 assists per game. The 54.9 percent shooter connected on 35 percent of his three-point attempts.
“This is a big deal, All-Ozarks, especially first team. There are only five of us here,” Chastain said.
Chastain plans to pursue a degree in criminal justice. He will attend North Arkansas College to play two seasons for former Ozark High School coach Steve Hunter.
Grant Boswell, senior G, Strafford
One of many talented athletes on coach Mike Wilson’s Class 3 state runner-up, Boswell scored an average of 16.4 points per game.
Boswell won the Logan Middleton Memorial Sportsmanship Award at the 2014 Greenwood Blue and Gold tournament, which hosts 32 teams every holiday break.
Boswell scored eight unanswered points in the final two minutes of Strafford’s 63-61 win over New Madrid County Central in the state semifinals. For the season, Boswell shot 85.6 percent from the free throw line and 51.1 percent from the floor.
Boswell will sign his letter of intent to play at NCAA Division II Drury University on Friday.
Second Team All-USA Ozarks honorees for 2015
Chase Allen, junior, Nixa
Luke Call, senior, Mt. Vernon
Jacob Caruso, senior, Mansfield
Brandon Emmert, sophomore, Bolivar
Zach Flippin, senior, West Plains
Kyle Foley, senior, Strafford
Dallas Hawk, senior, Walnut Grove
Chandler Lyon, senior, Ozark
Juwan Morgan, senior, Waynesville
Thomas Ritter, senior, Gainesville
Jack Simpson, senior, Kickapoo
Brock Yocum, senior, Republic