There are 12 area basketball teams to watch this season. If you missed the Winter Sports Preview, (included in the Nov. 20 edition of the Branson Tri-Lakes News) here is a wrap up of what we learned from the coaches about the teams this year.
Branson Boys Basketball
The Branson boys ended last season with a 12-15 record.
Head coach Mike Linehan is feeling hopeful since the team knows what to expect from him and the rest of the coaching staff, and also since there is a good amount of upperclassmen returning.
Linehan said practices have been intense and positive. In the first game of the season, the boys tallied a 70-47 loss against Harrison (Ark.).
The Pirates will host the Branson Battle at the Border beginning Thursday with a contest against Lake Hamilton (Ark.).
Friday, the Pirates take on Bolivar, followed by Mountain Home Saturday.
Branson Girls Basketball
Coming off a 15-12 record, the Branson girls enter the new season with a lot of youth and excitement.
Head coach Kip Bough said practices have been competitive, and there is a lot of athleticism on the team. He hopes the experience from the returning players and the athleticism from the younger players are a mixture for success.
In the first game of the season, the team fell 60-39 to Central.
The Lady Pirates host the Branson Battle at the Border beginning Thursday with a contest against Lake Hamilton (Ark.). Friday, the Lady Pirates take on Bolivar, followed by Mountain Home Saturday.
Blue Eye Boys Basketball
Last season, the Blue Eye boys went 20-7. The team made it to the district championship and lost to Greenwood.
Head coach Kyle Turner said the expectation for this season is to win another 20 games, and to hopefully make it to the district championship again.
Turner said the experience the team gained last year, and the size of the players should each play to the team’s advantage.
In the first game of the season, the team beat New Covenant 59-30.
Tuesday night, the Bulldogs travel to Berryville, followed by a trip to Hollister Dec. 13 before playing at home for the first time versus Perryville Dec. 14 and Cassville Dec. 17.
Blue Eye Girls Basketball
The Blue Eye girls ended last season with one of the best records in the area. Despite a 21-7 record, head coach Ken Elfrink said there were a number of injuries that didn’t allow the team to find a good rhythm.
Elfrink said this team should be one of the most competitive teams he’s coached, and it should be a fun team to watch. He hopes that can translate into wins.
In the first game of this season, the team lost to Strafford 54-46. Tuesday night, the Lady Bulldogs travel to Berryville, but will make their home debut Dec. 16 versus Miller.
Hollister Boys Basketball
The Hollister boys ended last season with a 12-13 record.
Head coach Pete Leonard said there are a lot of younger players who are ready to step up this year, since the team graduated eight seniors from the previous season.
Leonard hopes the team can be competitive in every game. In the first game of the season, the boys lost 59-58 to Spokane.
The Tigers remain idle until Dec. 13, when they host Blue Eye.
Hollister Girls Basketball
This year, the Hollister girls have a pretty young team with no seniors. Head coach Jimmy Lincoln said there are some key returners from last year’s 15-12 season.
Lincoln would like to see the team finish higher in its conference this season, but enjoys how well the team gets along with one another.
In the first game of the season, the girls won 42-33 over Ava. The Hollister Lady Tigers get a chance to remain undefeated Monday when they host Sparta.
Reeds Spring Boys Basketball
Last season, the Reeds Spring boys ended up with a 6-19 record.
Head coach Barry Yocom hopes the experience gained last season allows the team to turn some of those losses into wins. He hopes to see a competitive team that works hard and holds each other accountable.
The Wolves begin their 2019/20 season Tuesday at Forsyth before hosting Clever Dec. 13 for their home opener.
Reeds Spring Girls Basketball
Coming off an 11-16 season, head coach Lesley Reeves-Eakins said this season is different in the idea that she has no idea what to expect from this year’s team.
Although the roster doesn’t seem so different due to some returning players, she said some roles will be changing. Reeves-Eakins said just wants to see the team move the ball well and enjoy the game.
In the first game of this season, the girls fell 62-30 to Sparta. The Lady Wolves host the Forsyth Lady Panthers Monday night, followed by Hillcrest Dec. 12 and Crane Dec. 16.
Forsyth Boys Basketball
The Forsyth boys ended last season with a 14-12 record. Head coach Eric Rogers said he allows the team to set the goals – this year they settled on a goal of 20 wins.
Last season, they fell short. Rogers said there were a number of games lost by five points or fewer.
While this year’s team may appear to be smaller, he said they make up for it in their speed.
In the first game of the season this year, the boys picked up a 57-38 win over Mansfield. The Panthers host the Reeds Spring Wolves in their home opener Tuesday.
Forsyth Girls Basketball
Head coach Mandy Rogers said the Forsyth girls are a bit older this year than in previous seasons.
She said she hopes the experience plays to their advantage, although she recognizes the team struggles to stay competitive with a tough schedule like the one they have this year. The team ended last season with a 15-11 record.
In their first game of the season this year, the girls won 64-37 over Seymour. The Forsyth Lady Panthers travel to Reeds Spring Monday to battle the Lady Wolves.
School of the Ozarks
The S of O boys ended the season with a 12-14 record. Head coach Jerry Martin said he’s most excited about the leadership the older boys on the team exhibit.
Martin is less focused on the record, and more focused on how the boys develop as teammates and human beings. It’s more important for him to see the team enjoy the game.
The School of the Ozarks Patriots opened the season with a 55-47 win over Lutie last month, and are set to host Miller next Thursday, Dec. 12.
School of the Ozarks
The S of O girls’ team is starting out the season with a new coach, Andrea Martin. Martin joins the team as head coach after a 6-19 season.
Despite that, she said she’s excited the team has the potential to be a winning team – but she doesn’t know if that’ll be this season or a season in the future.
The challenge this year for the team will be young players, as there are only three players returning who have played a significant amount of varsity minutes.
According to their website, the Lady Patriots are set to host Miller next Thursday, Dec. 12.