By Nolan Epstein
When Ryan Worley decided to resign from coaching basketball at Hollister last April, it didn’t take long for the Tigers to promote from within.
Pete Leonard, who scored over 1,000 points in a four-year playing career at College of the Ozarks, enters his first year leading the Hollister Tigers after serving as an assistant under Worley last year.
“We liked his relationship with the players,” Hollister athletic director John Burgi said at the time of Leonard’s promotion. “He did a great job handling them as an assistant. He knew when to chew on them and when to love them.
“This was a tough decision. In the end, Pete’s name kept rising to the top as the one we wanted to select.”
Leonard leads a team that went 6-20 last year and fell in the opening round of districts to Licking by 31 points.
“I’m excited for the upcoming season,” said Leonard, who graduated from College of the Ozarks in 2014. “The team had a great summer working out and playing in shootouts. The boys have a great relationship with each other, and I believe they will play well as a team this season. Our game plan this season is a more controlled game where we try to force our opponents to make mistakes.”
Three starters and six lettermen return, and Hollister will need big contributions from each of them.
Headlining the returners is athletic 6-foot-4 junior Derek Morris, who averaged 13.4 points per game last season. “Derek is a threat anywhere on the floor,” Leonard said. “He has a nice shot and is developing a nice touch around the rim. I look for Derek to help lead the team this year.”
Fellow junior guard Landon Farquhar also returns after scoring 9 points per game a year ago. “Landon is a great leader,” Leonard said. “With his competitive spirit, he will only help bring the level of play up in our team. He is a hard worker who has developed a good shot both inside and out.”
Sophomores Logan Armitage, Jesse Wright, and Bryan Calovich also return. Calovich averaged 11 points per game last season as a freshman and should be more improved with a year of varsity experience now under his belt. “He will be a force inside with a big body and nice touch around the rim,” Leonard said. “He has also developed a nice jump shot that makes him hard to defend.”
Armitage is coming off a knee injury last year from football and will be asked to be more of a primary ball-handler this year. Wright played in 20 games as a freshman and should see an increased role this year.
“Logan has good vision and a good shot,” Leonard said. “He’s a natural leader that his teammates respond to well. Jesse gave us good minutes as a freshman and is a smart player with a nice shot. We look for Jesse to be a playmaker for our team this year.”
Newcomers to the team include senior Zach Crawford, juniors Jackson Bekemeier and Jenner Steele, and sophomores Cameron Shook and Logan Narvaez. All should contribute at the varsity level this season.