First-time head coach Jordan Burton takes over the Lockwood boys basketball program this season. The successful tradition of the program made the opportunity an easy choice to take.
“Lockwood Basketball has one of the richest traditions in the Ozarks, with Coach Cornish building something special in the 80’s and 90’s. Aaron Shockley did a great job over the last half decade of helping to continue that great culture,” Burton said. “I wasn’t planning on getting into coaching but this was a position that offered everything a coach would want in a new job; great tradition, great support and kids that want to be coached. I’m very fortunate and excited to be in this position.”
He will have to retool some things this year as Lockwood lost all five full-time starters.
A trio of senior guards will lead the Tigers in Paxton Masterson, Gage Dubs and Roy Snider. Masterson saw some time starting last year and was a key piece of the football team. Dubs has gained varsity experience over the last two seasons. Snider is also a baseball standout.
“I like the group we have. Senior guards Paxton Masterson and Gage Dubs will shoulder a large portion of that leadership and be key offensively. Paxton is a great shooter and great defender. He’s also just a winner and competitive kid. Gage is dynamic, especially with the ball in his hands. We’ll lean on his ability to create offense for himself and others. He’s also a gym rat. Roy has natural leadership qualities and is one of the hardest working kids I’ve ever been around. His toughness and determination will define our team,” Burton said. “I love seniors. They’re guys that have seen it all and are on their farewell tour. I think I have hungry seniors that want to lead and do things right.”
Sophomore Max Schnelle is the only other player returning with varsity experience for the Tigers.
“Max is a gym rat that wants to be great. He had a tremendous summer and is a perfect fit for what we want to do,” Burton said. “He has a great basketball IQ and he shoots it extremely well. I also love his leadership. He will have a chance to have a special season for us.”
Juniors Gaege Queen and Damian Jordan along with sophomores Blaine Garver, Spencer Neal and Brayden Hamilton and freshmen Kane Cooper, Zain Masterson and Dusty Timmons will all work to factor into the varsity equation for Lockwood.
“I’m excited about these guys. The majority of them are football players as well and all add toughness and athleticism,” Burton said.
Burton didn’t take the head coaching job until late into the summer, which has him unsure of what to fully expect this season.
“To be honest, I’m not entirely sure of what to expect from this group on the floor. Taking the position late, I didn’t get any contact days during the summer. Our strength will be our inexperience. Everything I throw at them will be new. I expect us to use the first several weeks acclimating to a new system and building good habits. We may struggle early, but hopefully the new system can be fully integrated by February,” Burton said.
Those struggles will only be alleviated by repetition.
“The only way to fix any deficiencies is to have enough reps to replace those poor habits. Losing five starters means that we have several guys that just haven’t received varsity reps. For some, that will be an adjustment,” Burton said. “We’re going to play fast and doing so will require a certain amount of physical fitness and mental toughness. We’ll address both of those things in practice. I’m also a firm believer that you can never handle, pass or shoot it enough. I believe those are things that will make our players more effective in our system.”
Lockwood moved down to Class 1 this season, which will give the Tigers the advantage of going from one of the smallest schools in its class to one of the biggest.
But February is a long way off for the Tigers as they look to get better throughout the year.
“I have few measurable expectations. I just want my kids to give their best effort anytime they step on the floor. If they do that, I can live with whatever result we get,” Burton said. “I want to help our kids buy-in to the idea of process over results. If your process is efficient and true to what we want to accomplish, the results will take care of themselves. It’s also a life lesson. There are times where you may do everything right and get an undesired result. That’s something I want to prepare them for through basketball.”
Lockwood opens the season on Nov. 16 at Dadeville.