By John Miller (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
There’s a lot of changes in Clever for the upcoming basketball season. Not only did the team graduate four starters from last year’s team, but they’ve joined a new conference – the Mid-Lakes.
“As we move into the Mid-Lakes, obviously Fair Grove and Strafford have great tradition and we look forward to competing against them,” said coach Luke Brosius, who has a record of 107-56 in seven years at Clever.
In addition to dealing with a new conference, the team will have to compete without the help of graduated seniors Devan Hampton, Caleb Peck, Mason Wilson, and Tyler Depee. Hampton and Peck were both 1st Team All-District and All-Conference last year, while Wilson and Deepe were named Honorable Mention All-Conference. Hampton now plays collegiately for North Ark, while Peck is at Fontbonne.
“We lost another good senior class last year,” Brosius said. “We will try to take advantage of our speed and athleticism by getting out and running and capitalizing on easy scoring opportunities. We believe that we will be extremely successful if we can take care of the ball and rebound well.”
Last year, the Jays finished 16-12 and lost to Catholic in the district semis. This year, they’ll lean on the play of five senior returners in Nathan King, Daylon Loonsfoot, Kody Whiles, Brittin Dover, and Korby Fenske.
King started most of the second half of the year last year for the Bluejays and finished the year averaging 6.4 points and 2.5 rebounds.
“He’s our best shooter … and one of our hardest workers,” Brosius said. “He handles the ball well, and we will look for him a lot this upcoming season to be some stability for us in that department.”
Loonsfoot averaged 4.5 points and 2.3 rebounds and showed great improvement last year for Clever.
“Daylon started the last five to six games for us last year and was one of our best defenders by the end of the year,” Brosius said. “We will look for him to be our best defender this year, as well. He has great length and can defend a lot of positions and skill sets.”
Whiles averaged 8.3 points and 3.7 rebounds last year and has the ability to use his athleticism to his advantage.
“He has great leaping ability and can score really well,” Brosius said. “He’s got a good outside shot and can out-jump people when getting to the basket. He has learned how to use his quickness and athleticism with defending kids that are bigger than him.”
Dover averaged 5.3 points and 2.7 rebounds last year, while Fenske chipped in with 2 points and 1.7 rebounds.
“Brittin is one of our strongest kids and a solid post defender,” Brosius said. “He is a good rebounder as well and brings some much-needed physicality to our team. Korby is a good shooter and really had a solid summer building his confidence up in that area. He attacks the basket well and has done a much better job of getting under control and in balance on his drives, which has made him a solid finisher.”
Clever also brings back sophomore Bryce Gelle, who could be the team’s starting point guard this winter.
“He has a high basketball IQ and handles the ball well,” Brosius said. “He has a good shot and is extremely unselfish, almost to a fault. He is a great leader as well, and someone that our players look up to a lot and respect.”
Newcomers to the team include juniors Taylor Genzler and Blaze Akins and seniors Noah Losh and Jordan Adams.
“Our team chemistry will be critical to the kind of season that we have and we feel like we have a group that is very close and understand their roles,” Brosius said. “We believe our unselfish play and family type of atmosphere that we embrace will bring us closer together and help us through the challenges we will face this season.”