By Allen VanNess (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
After a down season last year for the Camdenton Lakers, head coach Jared O’Quinn hopes his fourth season at the helm will lead to his team challenging for their first district title since 1982.
Graduating six seniors, four of which started last season, will be the first obstacle the Lakers must overcome if they are going to make a run at the district championship.
Along with all-district selection Brady Kempf, Camdenton also loses Braden DeMark, Hunter Hood and Michael Hake. Two other lettermen lost were Kyle Snyder and Riley Shriver.
“The young men were great leaders on and off the court,” O’Quinn said of his graduating seniors. “Their hard work and dedication to the program will be sorely missed.”
All-district recipient senior Dyllan Decker returns this season as the lone starter from last year.
“Dyllan is a superior athlete that has great three-point range and has the ability to finish at the rim,” said O’Quinn.
Also returning for the Lakers is sharpshooting senior Hunter Glynn and junior Connor Graves.
With only three lettermen returning, O’Quinn knows his Lakers will need to rely on some newcomers to the team if they are going to be successful.
Fortunately for the Lakers, there is plenty of talent ready to step up.
Juniors Isaiah Lumley, Jay Griffin, Grant Norton and Garett Colliher, along with sophomores Keegan Ford, Kelton Virtue, Andrew Butts and Jabyn Shockley and freshman Brandon Pasley are all expected to play important minutes this season.
Even with the vast amount of newcomers to the team, O’Quinn expects a major strong point of their team will be their depth.
“Our strengths will include depth at many positions,” O’Quinn said. “We have a number of guys who will compete for varsity playing time which should make our practices very competitive.”
Overall, if the Lakers are going to build on their 12-win season last year, they will not be able to do it alone. Instead, they will have to rely on every member of the team to step up and help night in and night out.
“Our identity will be associated with how hard we work on and off the court,” O’Quinn said. “As a team, we know we will have to outwork our opponents each and every night to achieve our goals and that is our mindset from day one. We want our players to be selfless by making the extra pass, setting great screens, and doing little things, and we think if our players can do this it will put us in a good situation to win ball games.”
Being in the competitive Ozark Conference, O’Quinn knows it will not be easy, but he also likes his team’s preparation and offseason work as the first step to meeting their goals in 2016-2017.
“The Ozark Conference will be tough as always, but we feel we have prepared ourselves in the offseason for the challenges ahead,” said O’Quinn. “Our goal is to be playing our best basketball by the end of the season to help us challenge for our first district championship since 1982.”
Camdenton begins their quest for that elusive district title when they travel to Marshall, MO to play in the Marshall Tournament on Nov. 29.