By Denise Tucker (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Excitement can be contagious. And, Weaubleau boys’ basketball coach Charley Dryer is beginning to catch it.
“I know the boys have some huge goals this year, and are working hard to achieve them,” Dryer said. “I am trying the more modest approach, but honestly, their excitement for this year definitely has me excited.”
Dryer enters his fourth year at Weaubleau – as the girls’ basketball coach. This is his third year to also lead the boys’ program. And, since he took over the boys’ program in 2017-2018, the Tigers went from 10-16 in 2016-2017, to 19-9 and a No. 2 seed in the district tournament in 2017-2018, to 20-7 overall (and No. 2 seed) and 7-1 and co-champions of the Polk County League.
The Tigers lose two starters and three letterwinners – Cameron Ott, Chase Ratliff and Freddie Wieder – from a team that came up just short in the district semifinals last season.
Ott, a forward, earned all-district and first-team all-conference honors. “Cameron was our best all-around scorer,” Dryer said. “He always created a mismatch for the opponents. He was a good rebounder and defender, worked hard and was very athletic.”
Ratliff, a guard, is now running cross country at the University of Central Missouri. “Chase was a hard worker, and maybe the best defender in our area. He always took the other team’s best player out of the game.”
Wieder, a forward, is playing baseball at Central Christian College in Kansas. “Freddie was an athletic, hard-working kid who provided depth on the post. He was an animal on the boards.”
The Tigers do have a lot to be excited about with the return of three starters and a lot of varsity experience.
• Cadan Kauffman, is a 5-11 senior, who averaged 16 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.8 steals per game, added 97 3-pointers last year. “Cadan is one of the best shooters in the area, and maybe the state,” Dryer said. “He works hard and is a good leader.”
• Sam Rutherford, a 5-11 senior, averaged 12.3 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 3.7 APG and 1.7 SPG. “Sam is extremely athletic and can be a spectacular defender. He can shoot the outside shot, but is very quick and has some good moves going to the rim. He has played point guard the last two years.”
• Tucker Hilliard, a 6-1 senior, averaged 3.3 PPG, 2 RPG, 2.3 APG and 1 SPG. “Tucker will have some big defensive assignments this year. He can shoot the 3 and attack the basket. He may get some time in the post this year, as well.”
• Emmitt Stewart, a 5-11 senior, averaged 1.8 PPG and 1 RPG. “Emmitt is a strong kid that has had his career limited due to injuries. He can guard, play the post, and is a really good shooter. I have a feeling he is going to have a big year now that he is healthy.”
• Kaiden Gannaway, a 5-9 junior, “is an athlete. He is a top cross country runner in the state. He can get to the rim and hit the outside shot. He is a great defender and will be asked to fill some defensive voids this season.”
• Brady Herring, 5-11 sophomore, can play multiple positions. “Brady is a good all-around player, who plays some point guard for us. I expect him to have some big years in high school, and to have some great moments this year. His defense is improving as is his outside shot.”
• Ethan Foster, a 6-3 sophomore, averaged 6.3 PPG, 3.5 RPG and 1 APG last year. “Ethan didn’t have the best of freshman years to meet his standards offensively, so I can see him having a big year due to that. He is quick for a post, runs the floor very well; a really good defender and can guard multiple positions.”
• Chandler Welch, 5-9 sophomore, continues to improve his outside shot and defense. “I see him playing a big role at some point in his career.”
Dryer has several newcomers who could make an impact for the Tigers.
• Brylie Fielder is a 6-2 junior, who gives the Tigers a lot of size on the interior. “He moves well for his size, so he can play defense and is versatile offensively. He has a great touch from behind the arc and in.”
• Chance Powers, 6-0 junior, works hard in the post, and can step out and hit a shot.
• Wyatt Dennis, 5-9 freshman, is a hard worker and “the ideal team player.”
• Bodee Fielder, 5-10 freshman, “has a very well-rounded offensive skill-set where he can attack the basket and hit the outside shot.”
• Cooper Wilken, is a 5-6 freshman, who Dryer “can’t wait to see in varsity uniform and see what he can do this year and in his career. He has played a lot of basketball. Most people count him out due to his size, but that is never an excuse for him. He is a solid defender, a good passer, ballhandler and a really good 3-point shooter.”
Brandon Packham, a 5-3 sophomore, is another newcomer vying for varsity minutes.
Weaubleau will host a jamboree with Fair Play, Osceola and Montrose on Nov. 19, and opens the regular season at home against Macks Creek on Nov. 22.
“We will be able to play a variety of styles this year,” Dryer said. “This year, we have size and even have depth in the post spots with size. We still have our speed, etc., from last year.
“I still want to use a fast pace and incorporate several different players to take advantage of our depth. These guys seem to be focused and have a ‘chip on their shoulder.’ ”