By Jordan Burton (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
It’s hard to believe the Ozark Mountain Shootout is entering its sixth year. Initially, Brian McTague started it with the idea of having a few regional matchups in a central location for teams to get quality games without having to travel insanely far to do so. Mission accomplished. This year’s event features 12 games with several future Division One players and multiple teams that will compete for state championships in their respective class. Here are some things to know entering Friday and Saturday’s action.
Friday (Dec. 8)
Springfield Kickapoo vs. Pacific, 5 p.m.
St. Louis Confluence vs. Nixa, 6:30 p.m.
Blue Valley Northwest vs. Ozark, 8:00 p.m.
Saturday (Dec. 9)
Perryville (Ark.) vs. Purdy, 10:30 a.m.
Eminence vs. Clever, Noon.
Republic vs. Forsyth, 1:30 p.m.
Springfield Catholic vs. St. Louis Confluence, 3:30 p.m.
Hazelwood Central vs. Blue Valley Northwest, 5 p.m.
Rock Bridge vs. Springfield Glendale, 7 p.m.
Willard vs. Kirkwood, 8:30 p.m.
Out of Area Teams to Watch
Blue Valley Northwest (Kan.)
So, a few years ago they came over and thumped a really good Kickapoo team by 30 and the Huskies are still insanely good with every base covered. They have an abundance of size in 6-foot-9 D-1 prospect Parker Braun, 6-foot-6 Abilene Christian signee Joe Pleasant and 6-foot-5 wing Christian Braun. Both Brauns have received D-1 offers. BVNW also brings plenty of size off the bench and 6-foot-5 freshman Jack Chapman will have a chance to be the program’s next big thing. This will be one of the most sound high school teams you’ll see all season, but they have plenty of talent and athleticism to go with it – which is why they’ve won three state championships in the last five seasons.
CPA has the unfortunate luck of being in a pod with the preseason Class 4 No. 1 (Vashon), No. 2 (Sikeston) and No. 3 (St. Mary’s) teams in Missouri. So, even though you may not see them come March, this is a really good team with one of the best inside-out duos you’ll see. Leon Perry is a 6-foot-7 big that is receiving Division One interest. Through his first five games he was averaging 24.8 points, 12.6 rebounds and three blocks. Running mate Brandon Fredrick is actually leading St. Louis in scoring at 31 PPG. The 5-foot-10 senior is shooting 49 percent from deep, knocking down 34 triples in just five games. This team can score in bunches.
The Hawks are perennially one of the best Class 5 programs in Missouri and this year is no exception; they’re a perfect 4-0 with five players averaging double figures. Getting off the bus Hazelwood Central looks like a college team. The ringleader is Kansas State recruit Shaun Williams, who is following former Hawks great Xavier Snead. Williams is a 6-foot-3 guard that leads the squad in points (15.3), assists 6) and steals (3.5). Classmate Cameron Williams (12.3 points) and Xavier Ball (11 points, 7.5 rebounds) are both receiving heavy college interest, with the 6-foot-7 Ball being a potential D-1 player.
Last year Rock Bridge may have had more raw talent than Kickapoo, but they were just young – playing a roster full of sophomores. Now they’re juniors and some of the best in the state. Isiaih Mosley is a 6-foot-5 scoring wing that has already been offered by Mizzou. He dropped 30 on Kickapoo in the quarterfinals last season. Dajuan Harris is a 6-foot-1 point guard that mixes skill and athleticism to generate offense for himself and others; he’s also an incredible defender. Then you have 6-foot-4 3-and-D wing Jamonta Black, 6-foot-6 big Quintin Brown with a long, bouncy frame and 6-foot-3 wing Keenan Miller. The general consensus seems to be that Kansas City and St. Louis are loaded in Class 5 – which they are – but Rock Bridge isn’t lagging in the arms race. This is a Final Four caliber team.
Games to Watch
Glendale vs. Rock Bridge
This could very well be a preview of a Class 5 Quarterfinal, should both teams advance. It would also be a shootout. Rock Bridge has no shortage of talent and firepower and Glendale is still rolling with Monty Johal, Jordan Walton and Jaxon Davis all returning. The Bruins are bigger and more athletic, but it’ll be interesting to see how Glendale’s unique pressure and ability to stretch and space a floor combat that.
Blue Valley Northwest (Kan.) vs. Ozark
Mark Schweitzer loves these kind of games. His team will again take the floor against an elite regional opponent in a pure “let’s see what our kids are made of” type of game. BVNW is a complete basketball team. Ozark has looked like one of the top teams in Class 5 so far, with Quinn Nelson dropping 23.8 points a night and Payton Nichols (11 points, 7.5 rebounds) continuing to blossom behind his 6-foot-4 frame. The Tigers can’t match up size, but their ability to also make shots and force tempo will be imperative in this one.
Springfield Catholic vs. Confluence Prep
CPA’s tilt with Nixa will tell us quite a bit about who they are, but Catholic’s game with them will mean more. The Eagles will compete for conference and district titles. But, everyone is still trying to figure out just how good the Irish are. In the opener against Mountain Grove they looked like a district championship-caliber team. Since then they’ve looked like a Final Four-caliber team. CPA is a big, explosive Class 4 program. Hanging with them will say a lot about Catholic.
Hazelwood Central vs. Blue Valley Northwest (Kan.)
You’ve heard about each team. This is purely a barometer game. Last year BVNW came to Springfield and beat Vashon in a war. Both teams went on to win state championships. This will be one of the most anticipated games in Missouri this week.
Most Intriguing Individual Matchups
Monty Johal & Jordan Walton (Glendale) vs. Isiah Mosely & Dajaun Harris (Rock Bridge)
If this was a 2-on-2 game at the park it would be must-see basketball. All four are gifted scorers and will play college basketball. I’m not sure how much direct head-to-head action we’ll see but it’s possible that Mosley and Johal could guard each other for extended stretches, while Harris and Walton will likely matchup for much of the game. Johal dropped 40 in Glendale’s season opener. It’s rare that he’ll see the size and length in so many different potential defenders as he’ll see with Rock Bridge.
Braeden Combs (Nixa) vs. Brandon Fredrick (Confluence Prep)
Combs is an underrated defender and Fredrick is a big-time scorer. It’ll be interesting to see how much Nixa bounces around between man and zone because of how well Fredrick shoots it. If they do play a ton of man and this matchup happens, Combs length could cause some problems. On the other end Fredrick has quick hands and lives in passing lanes, he’ll likely draw the assignment of Combs or freshman Kaleb Wofford. Both will make him work defensively.
Broc Smith (Republic) vs. Anthony Stanford (Forsyth)
You may be scratching your head right now but don’t, Forsyth legitimately has two of the best players in Southwest Missouri. Stanford is an elite defender in the Ozarks, averaging 11.6 points, 10 rebounds and 2.6 blocks. He matches up with the opposing team’s best offensive threat, regardless of position. It’s a rare gift for any coach to have, but in this case, it means he’ll see 6-foot-3 wing Broc Smith, who just dropped 25 against Rolla. Smith scores easily and effortlessly from anywhere on the floor. He’s also a big guard and has some bounce. Stanford has clamped everyone he’s seen this season, but this will be his toughest challenge.