By Jim Connell (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Strafford High School coach Mike Wilson is hoping there is strength in numbers for his Indians this season.
Not so much in the numbers associated with gaudy height, but more in the number of small, quick players he will put on the court.
Strafford is coming off a 14-10 season, which ended in a district semifinal loss to Fair Grove.
The Indians lost two starters and three players to graduation, the biggest one being Tyler Winburn, a shooting guard who was a first-team pick on the all-conference and all-district teams. The sharpshooter led Strafford in scoring, at 14 points per game.
Also gone are point guard Wyatt Comstock and leading rebounder Drew Hall.
“Those guys will be missed,” Wilson said.
Three starters are back to fill that void, led by Riley Oberbeck, a 6-foot-2 junior who was a second-team pick on the all-conference team as a sophomore. He averaged 13.0 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.
Kensen White is a 6-foot-1 senior who averaged 7.5 points per game, while Trayson Lawler is a 6-foot-2 junior who averaged 5.6 points and 4.2 rebounds a season ago.
Wilson said Oberbeck is the team’s top offensive threat, with White nice player able to make a difference on the boards, and Lawler a nice battler down low.
“He’s a little undersized for playing in the post, but he’s very competitive,” Wilson said.
Other returning players with varsity experience include senior Weston Boswell, a 6-foot-1 senior who averaged 5.5 ppg, and 6-foot-2 senior Jordan Choate, who scored at a 3.5-point clip in 24 games as a junior.
Several reinforcements made their presence felt during offseason work, Wilson said.
Wyatt Maples is a 6-foot-2 junior who has a dangerous shooting touch, Dillon Hester is a 6-foot-2 junior who showed big improvement over the summer and is an athletic and effective defender, and 5-foot-9 junior Dylan Owens is a quick player who has big potential as a defender.
Seniors Bryce Boswell (6-foot-2) and Trenton Roebke (6-foot-1) should help the team’s rebounding, and sophomore Mason Foley (5-foot-9) can handle the ball and should see time at point guard.
“We have to guard, and rebounding is probably the bigger key,” Wilson said. “We don’t have a lot of height. We’re going to be quicker, and we’ll be able to put more pressure on the ball.
“Rebounding will be the key.”
The Indians were 4-2 in the Mid-Lakes Conference, good for third place in the league, last season. Wilson expects it to be another competitive race this season.
“I think from top to bottom, the conference will be as good as it has been,” Wilson said.
“Stockton and Skyline were very young. Fair Grove is always good and they should be good. Marionville will still be good. Ash Grove was young, and they should be better.
“I think we’ll be a little better. I think we should have a chance if we stay healthy and play hard.”