While Mountain Home’s boys’ basketball team lost the majority of its scoring punch from last season, the Bombers look to many newcomers to fill spots for the 2015-16 season.
The Bombers went 16-12 last season, falling 49-46 to Lake Hamilton in the first round of the Class 6A State Tournament. Mountain Home returns only 6-2 senior forward Howie Wehmeyer from last year’s starting lineup.
The Bombers graduated starters Preston Groesbeck, Sky-Lar Culver, Blake McKee and Collin Oxford.
“Inexperience is our biggest weakness,” first-year head coach Grant Greenhaw said. “We’ve always used nonconference to get used to conference play. We’ll be doing that again, but I guess it will be more important this year because we lost a lot of our offense. We have some guys coming in who can play, but they’re just inexperienced. Getting those early games at Forsyth (Mo.), (Greene County) Tech and Harrison and other places will be beneficial.”
Greenhaw, who was head junior high coach at Mountain Home from 2005 to 2013, is in his first year as head coach of the Bombers after long-time coach Mitch Huskey was promoted to athletic director this summer.
Other players who saw varsity time last season returning for the Bombers include 5-11 senior guard Chase Ohler and 6-3 senior post Austin Jacobelli. Elijah Griggs, a 6-1 senior forward, moves to Mountain Home after starting for two seasons at Viola.
The rest of this year’s squad hardly saw any varsity time in 2014-15.
“It will be a larger rotation,” Greenhaw said of the amount of players receiving floor time early in the season. “That’s what you use the nonconference games for, letting them show what they can do.”
Although the group will be one of the smaller teams in its conference, Greenhaw liked what he saw from the Bombers in the rebounding category at their preseason jamboree.
“(Rebounding) was a strength at Jacksonville. We really controlled the defensive boards and scrapped a few offensive boards, too,” he said. “Rebounding is one of those things that if you’re serious about it, you can do it, even if you’re a little shorter.
“What needs to be our biggest strength — and what is right now — is playing as a team,” he added. “We defended as a team at Jacksonville. Their character is helping them do things on the court and making all of them better.”
Since its inception, the 7A/6A-East has been the toughest boys’ basketball conference in the state of Arkansas, and this year will be no different, according to Greenhaw.
“Jonesboro is number-one, then I’d say it’s a tie between North Little Rock and Cabot, with an edge going to North Little Rock with them being defending champs,” he said. “Cabot has basically everybody back, plus they have a good point guard who didn’t play last year until the second time we played them. Plus, they have good size.”
For one more season in the current Arkansas Acitivities Association cycle, Class 6A teams in the conference will advance to the state tournament based solely on their results against each other. But, the Bombers won;t be treating their matchups against Jonesboro, Marion and Searcy any different than when they face 7A schools.
“We treat all the conference games the same, so there’s not any different strategy,” Greenhaw said. “You try to win those games, though, because those are the ones you have to win to go to the state tournament. No conference game is any more important than any other, though, in our eyes.”
Mountain Home begins its season officially on Nov. 21 at Springdale. The Bombers will play in three tournaments, and also against Harrison and Paragould before January rolls around with conference play.
“The Forsyth (Mo.) tournament is going to be good for us because we’re so inexperienced,” Greenhaw said. “With the exception of maybe Branson (Mo.), that field is a little different than what we see in conference play. The one at Greene County Tech we went to last year is exactly what we need to see. They bring some teams in out of Memphis and Mississippi. The team we beat in the final last year, Ripley, is back. We play Paragould and Liberty Tech out of Tennessee.”
And, the Bombers host their annual 1st Arkansas Bail Bonds Tournament at The Hangar on Dec. 28-30.
“In our tournament, we have Dollarway, Hamburg, Paragould, Brinkley, Flippin and Marianna Lee,” Greenhaw said. “The three games we get in that will be good for us because there are different styles of play. There were last year, too. We’re going to be more ball-control, and so will Flippin and probably Paragould. Marianna wants to push the pace, and I suspect Hamburg will be similar as well. It will be a good tournament for our fans, too.”
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