By Angie Brushwood (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
The Stockton Tigers return from a strong 18-9 season with a roster of experienced players. Going into his third season as head coach, Derald Henderson is eager to see what the Tigers can accomplish.
“We’re wanting to compete and win a district and conference championship,” said Henderson. “It’s going to take some work. We’ll have to do some things really well to do that.”
The Tigers only lost one starter to graduation. Point guard Jake Wheeler is playing college baseball at Maple Woods Community College.
Four starters are returning for the Tigers. Three of those are 3-year starters, Clayton Hubbard, Gannon Kenney, and Drew Wheeler. Clayton Hubbard (6’2”), a senior, led the Tigers in scoring with 18 PPG, earning 1st team all Mid-Lakes Conference and all-district honors.
“At forward, Clayton is really good scoring and good attacking the basket and shooting midrange,” said Henderson.
Kenney, a 6’4” 225 pound senior at forward, shot 37% from the 3-point range last year and led in rebounding with 6.2 RPG. Kenney scored 10.4 PPG with 3.0 APG, earning honorable mention all Mid-Lakes Conference.
“Gannon is versatile as an inside and outside presence,” said Henderson.
Wheeler, a 6’2” junior, will replace his brother as point guard. Wheeler scored 15.8 PPG with 3.3 APG and 2.5 RPG, and he made more than 60 threes last season. Wheeler earned 2nd team all Mid-Lakes Conference and all-district as well.
“Drew has a good skill set and is a very good outside shooter,” said Henderson. “He is quick and athletic, and he added to his game this summer by working on ball handling and his mid range shots.”
Senior Jacob Greenlee (6’3”) scored 9.0 PPG and 4.9 RPG last season. Henderson calls Greenlee his “truest post.”
“Jacob does a really good job on interior defense and interior scoring, especially off offensive rebounds and backs,” said Henderson.
Several Tigers will be competing for that fifth starting position.
Senior Silas Kenney, a 5’9” senior and Gannon Kenney’s cousin, has had his eye on that spot for a while.
“Silas has waited patiently for an opportunity to play big varsity minutes,” said Henderson. “He is one of our best individual defenders, a strong, physical guard who doesn’t mind contact.”
Aaron Merrick, a 6’0” athletic guard, will get a chance to prove himself.
“I can see Aaron being a spot minute player, helping us off the bench, bringing energy,” said Henderson. He’s a hustle defender guy too—very smart.”
Junior Haden Broksieck (5’10”) shows strength from the three-point range, shooting 2.2 PPG and 2.1 RPG last season.
“Haden is defensively very competitive. For his size, he rebounds extremely well and is one of our better guard-type rebounders,” said Henderson.
Drew’s sophomore brother Tate Wheeler (5’10”) brings energy to the guard position.
“Tate is improving in his ball handling and is a capable outside shot. I think he’s going to grow into a bigger role on the varsity level as the season progresses,” said Henderson.
Junior Cole Garrettson (6’1”) brings a physical presence to post, and Henderson expects him to play minutes off the bench for the big players.
Sophomores Matt Gregory and Taylor Winchell bring commitment and growth as guards.
Henderson will be pushing the Tigers to improve defensively.
“Defensively we have to be able to guard the best teams. We’ve got to be able to rebound. Those two things need to show up if we’re going to do anything really special.”
This year’s conference shifts will affect Stockton’s schedule significantly. In the Mid-Lakes conference, Stockton will still face heavyweights like Fair Grove and Strafford, along with Clever, Skyline, and Forsyth. Along with assistant coach Charlie Carsten, Henderson will push the Tigers to compete.
“Our league changed pretty dramatically,” said Henderson. “We lost Marionville, Pleasant Hope, and Ash Grove. Those were replaced with Clever and Forsyth. Our conference is really challenging.”
The Tigers’ home opener will be December 4 against Greenfield.