By Jordan Burton (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
The third year was truly the charm for Aaron Shockley and Lockwood…
The Tigers, after back-to-back district championship game defeats, were able to win a district championship.
Now, in Shockley’s fourth season, Lockwood has to manage expectations and pressure and it looks to build on last year’s strong finish.
“We are very excited to get going, we talked a lot this summer on the target we will have now and we have to work and prepare more,” said Shockley. “This group of guys has played together since they were young; they are not content with just a district title they want to get Lockwood back where it was in the 90’s making noise in the playoff.”
Not only will this season seemingly be smoother because everyone is now completely integrated into Shockley’s system, but the Tigers also return veteran point guard Cade Holman.
The 5-foot-10 senior averaged 16 points and four assists last year, earning All-SRVC honors.
“Cade makes my job easier,” said Shockley. “He is a good kid and as a senior he knows what I want and expect.
“He has the ability to score or facilitate. If you pressure him and help or trap, he can beat you with the pass. If you don’t defend him honestly he can get to the rim or knock down jumpers. He’s a great weapon to have.”
Slowing down Holman will be even more difficult this winter following an offseason that saw him add strength to his frame and become an even more consistent jump shooter.
He’ll also have several athletes to help take the pressure off of him.
Senior Logan Sparkman is back after averaging 12 points and six rebounds last year. The 6-foot-3 wing has the ability to post on the block or step out on the perimeter with his athleticism creating a matchup problem.
“Logan had a great summer and really expanded his game,” said Shockley. “He will be a match up problem for many teams with his size and athletic ability. He will see an expanded role in the offense this year, we are also going to try to get him In transition more and leading our breaks to use his athleticism.”
Lockwood should thrive in transition with the athletes it’ll have on the floor.
Brady Oeltjen, Josh Osterdyk and Jack Purinton are all football standouts that use that athleticism to defend and get to the rim.
The addition of Justin Nentrup is yet another senior in that same mold.
Quarterback Paxton Masterson sat out his sophomore year due to injury but will join the team again this winter, adding another quality athlete and shooter.
Junior Gage Dubs should also see an increase in role and production after averaging six points and three assists last year. He’s yet another guard that puts pressure on opposing defenses with his ability to attack the rim and finish through contact.
Junior Evan Bates gives Lockwood a big body that can be an interior presence on both ends. Classmate Geage Queen is a long and athletic forward that will also push for minutes.
Shockley also expects freshmen Max Schnelle, Spencer Neal, and Blaine Garver to compete for varsity minutes.
Lockwood won its last seven games before losing to Sacred Heart in Sectionals. With all that the Tigers bring back, as well as the infusion and athleticism of newcomers, there is a buzz surrounding this year’s team.
The SRVC will again be a challenge with fellow Class 2 district champion Pierce City, as well as Class 1 power Greenfield, returning key pieces. The non-conference schedule has again been beefed up to help prepare the Tigers for late February, for would could be conference and district championship runs.
“We’re definitely excited about the season and where the program is going,” said Shockley. “Our seniors have set an amazing foundation over the last three years, now it’s time for this group to carry it forward.”
Lockwood opens the 2017-18 season at home on Nov. 17 against Dadeville.