Neosho finished one game over .500 last year at 14-13 that ended with a loss to Nixa in the opening round of district play.
“I was pleased with the team last season,” Neosho head coach Tony Branscum said. “Our seniors did a nice job leading the guys. We played in quite a few close games which was exciting. We won a few of those and lost a few. The most enjoyable part of last season was the daily improvement in practice. The guys attacked each practice with the intensity needed to get better.”
Three seniors are gone from that team in all-conference selection Coleman Scott along with Connor Johnson, Bryce Murphy, Brian Banks and Ethan Siler. Scott and Johnson each averaged 11 points per game and shot 40-percent from 3-point range.
This year, Neosho will turn to Brady Wise to shoulder the load offensively and defensively after averaging seven points and four rebounds per game last season.
“He became a defensive stopper for us and did a nice job as a starter for us the last two-thirds of the season,” Branscum said. “We will rely on Brady for stats in every offensive and defensive category.”
Luke Kibler is another key returning player after he averaged six points and four rebounds per game last season.
Yeej Lee, Kaden King, Cade Cradduck, Cole Seward, A.C. Marion and Sam Cook will also be players to watch on varsity for Neosho. Lee brings energy and defensive stability when he is on the floor. King will be the starting point guard. Cradduck will see an increased role as a junior and bring solid rebounding. Seward has had a strong offseason that should pay dividends this season. Marion brings rebounds, points and an overall grit according to Branscum. Cook is a strong defender and rebounder who is expected to make a leap this year.
Last year’s team was senior-laden, which means Branscum has almost a completely new group to work with on the varsity level this year.
“The most exciting part of this season is the unknown,” Branscum said. “We were very senior-heavy last season so this is basically a brand new varsity team. Practice will be great because the players and staff will be building something new. The games will be fun because we will be competing for our school and community.”
Neosho opens the season Nov. 27 through Dec. 2 at the Carthage Invitational Tournament.