By John Miller (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
When it comes to Class 3 powers in Missouri, you don’t have to rattle off too many names until you get to the Strafford Indians.
With eight consecutive Mid-Lakes Conference championships, the Indians have cemented themselves as one of the top programs in the area.
Last year, the team finished with a 21-7 record, including a 6-0 run through the Mid-Lakes. A 64-60 loss to rival Fair Grove in the district semifinals ended the Indians’ season.
Five starters and seven lettermen have graduated, leaving this year’s Strafford team with a fresh look.
“We will have a different look than in the last two years where we have been senior dominant,” said Indians’ coach Mike Wilson, who has a 218-67 record in 11 years at Strafford and a 481-208 coaching record in 26 years of coaching. “We will have a good mix of seniors through sophomores who will fight for varsity playing time. It should make for great competition in practice.”
Of Strafford’s four returning players, three are seniors: Tyler Winburn, Wyatt Cogdill, and Wyatt Comstock.
Winburn, a 5-foot-9 guard, averaged 7.5 points and 1.4 assists last year. “He’s a very good shooter who has worked hard this summer to improve his overall game,” Wilson said. “He is becoming a very good defender to go with his offensive game.”
Cogdill, a 6-foot-5, 180-pound forward, averaged 8.4 points and 4.3 rebounds in 25 games last season for the Indians. He should provide them with a nice presence inside. “He will need to help us on both ends of the floor,” Wilson said. “With his length and athletic ability, he will be an important part of our success this season.”
Comstock, a 5-foot-9 guard, played in only 10 games last year but will be one of the primary ball handlers this year for Strafford. “He has a high basketball IQ and is also a good defender,” Wilson said.
Also returning is junior Kensen White, who played in just nine games last year. “Kensen is a very good athlete who can play the point and also is a (good defender),” Wilson said.
With only four returners, Strafford’s success this year will largely depend on how quickly its newcomers can adjust to play at the varsity level. Senior Drew Hall, juniors Weston Boswell, Jordan Choate, and Trenton Roebke, and sophomores Riley Oberbeck and Trayson Lawler are among the newcomers for the Indians this season.
“We will only be as good as how hard we play,” Wilson said. “I expect our kids to play and practice as hard as they can because I believe that is what makes us successful.”