By Amanda Perkins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Coaching legend Mike Wilson retired from Strafford last year after yet another 20-win season. Now he will take over the reins of the Willow Springs boys program coming off an eight-win season.
Wilson will do so without Willow’s second leading scorer in team history, Bryce Duddridge. The all-conference and all-district standout now plays at College of the Ozarks. Five more graduated with Bryce: Landon Rodgers, Sam Chaney, Michael Cawvey, Ryan Tompkins, and Dakota McDaniel.
Three lettermen return. Ryan Cawvey ran the point last season and is a skilled ball handler. At 6’1”, the senior’s jump shot is a threat. He averaged 8.5 points and 2.3 assists and rebounds per game.
“We will look to him for leadership as well as more scoring than last year,” said Wilson.
Senior Trey Talbert added 4.5 ppg. His quickness and agility makes him a skilled guard, and he is one of the team’s best defenders. Tryton Henley is a 6’2” junior and added 4.8 points and 3.5 rebounds per game last season. He puts in the work to improve and is effective in the post, and also provides leadership.
Three juniors are new to the varsity squad: Jackson Bailey, Jonathan Baker, and Carson Lowe. At 6’3”, Bailey will be expected to contribute in the post. Baker is a shifty guard and a skilled athlete, and Lowe is also an athletic hard worker.
Sophomore Jonah Smith has worked on improving his game, and classmate Justin Chaney is an athlete and adept shooter.
Skilled freshmen also join the varsity cast. Owen Duddridge possesses a high basketball IQ like his brother Bryce, and is also a strong shooter with the ability to see the floor well. He will add depth at the guard position. Scottie Osborne will assist in the post with his strength and athleticism.
Coach Wilson expects his team to compete well in the SCA conference and in district play.
“Building a program is always tough,” he said, “but Willow has great tradition in basketball. These kids know that and so far have been working extremely hard to get back on track. The harder they work, the better our program will be. They are good kids who are hungry to have some success on the varsity level.”
The Bears will open their season with the River Country Chevrolet Classic November 26.