By John Miller (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Newcomers will be plenty for the Marshfield Blue Jays this upcoming basketball season. The team returns only two varsity players from last year’s team that finished 16-12. Six key players graduated from last year’s squad, including a pair of All-Conference and All-District members in Triston Letterman and Austin Porter. Letterman averaged 14.9 points per game last year along with 5.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 2.3 steals. Porter turned in 10.1 points per game with 5.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.2 steals. Their absence leaves behind a large void of production that the Jays will need to fill this season. Second-year head coach Adam Carpenter knows some big challenges await a young Marshfield team this year.
“Our expectation for this season is to improve on our key areas throughout the year,” Carpenter stated. “We will develop into a team that sprints back on defense, defends well in the half-court, pursues every rebound, and has great offensive possessions. We believe that if we do those four things at a high level, we will have opportunities to win games.”
With returning players few and far between, Marshfield will turn to senior guard Drew Cromer and sophomore guard Peyton McBride to lead the way for the Jays this winter. Cromer, who stands 6-foot-3, started all 28 games for Marshfield last season and averaged 11 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists. Cromer was an excellent outside shooter, shooting 39 percent from behind the 3-point line.
“Drew is a 3.6 GPA student and is learning to be a great leader,” Carpenter said. “He has put in the work necessary to improve his game this offseason. We are excited to watch him compete and lead our program.”
McBride, a 6-foot-2 guard, moved up the depth chart for Marshfield during his freshman season. By the end of the year, he was playing quality minutes for the varsity squad and had played in nine different games. McBride averaged 7 points in those nine games and shot 42 percent from the 3-point line.
“Peyton has the potential to make an immediate impact,” Carpenter noted. “We are expecting him to step directly into a leadership role.”
Along with Cromer and McBride, the Jays will need contributions from a large group of newcomers.
“Aside from Drew and Peyton, all other faces will be new at the varsity level,” Carpenter said. “We are confident that once we find our chemistry and identity, we will learn how to consistently compete with teams in our area. We are excited to see who out of this new group will find ways to contribute to a winning varsity program.”
Last season, Marshfield finished 16-12. The team began the year 2-6 but caught fire late, winning six of its final seven. A 40-43 loss to West Plains in the Class 4 District 11 semifinals ended the season for the Jays. The team averaged 58.5 points per game and shot the ball well, shooting 49 percent from the field, 34 percent from 3-point range, and 64 percent from the free throw line.