By Shelley Ebbrecht
In round one of the Class 2, District 14 basketball tournament, No. 3 seed Osceola trailed No. 6 seed Windsor by one point with seconds remaining. Osceola put up a shot at the buzzer but it didn’t count and the Indians’ season was over. Windsor ended up reaching the district title game.
With the first-round upset fresh in their memories, Osceola plans to pick up the pace to move them farther in this year’s postseason.
“It’s going to be a lot more fast-paced,” said second-year head coach Dave Smith. “Last year we were bigger and stronger with our inside game and this year we’re going to play at a faster pace.”
Osceola graduated seven seniors from last year’s squad including all five starters. Smith said they were all good players in their own right, but the team will especially feel the loss of lead scorer and first-team all-conference selection Jonathan Lewis, who put up 16 points per game for the Indians.
Smith said losing the starting squad will be a hit to the program, but he has confidence in his players’ ability to convert JV experience into success at the varsity level.
“We had a very successful JV team and guys with varsity experience, so I think we’re going to be fairly competitive,” Smith said.
The team is especially strong in its junior class with Zach Vaughn and Ryan Sumner leading the pack. Smith said both played quite a few varsity minutes last season and he expects them to emerge as the leaders on the court. Sumner was the third leading scorer for the Indians, averaging 11 points per game.
Cooper Anderson and David Larue are two more juniors with varsity experience looking to make a presence in the perimeter.
“All we have this year is a bunch of 6’1” guards, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing,” Smith said.
Rebounding is the key skill the Indians have worked at improving over the summer. With team’s size diminished along with the graduation of their seniors, rebounds are something they will have to fight for.
“We are going to have to be able to rebound,” said Smith. “I expect Jarret DeWitt is going to do a great job on the glass for us. It’s not going to be like last year—we were like a small college team we were so big. We are going to have to work hard at it this year.”
Smith said the team will have to use their athleticism to their advantage.
“We are athletic and can score a little bit,” said Smith. “At the pace we are going to play at, we are going to run if we can rebound.”
The Indians will be back in action November 22 at Lincoln before playing in the WEMO Tournament beginning November 28. Smith said the team is ready to get the season underway and won’t be overlooking any contest.
“We look forward to every game as an opportunity to win,” he said. “No one stands out—every game is important.”