By Chris Parker
It has been many years since the Sarcoxie boys basketball program has posted back-to-back winning seasons. That is poised to change this year with many quality contributors returning from last season’s squad that finished 17-8 overall.
“A big key (to last year’s success) was a committed group of guys that showed up in the off-season and during the season and worked extremely hard day in and day out. They learned how to win some games in the previous summer and carried that into the season. We snuck up on a few teams that weren’t used to Sarcoxie being a skilled, hardworking team,” Sarcoxie head coach Andy Hogenmiller said.
Leading the returning players is 6-foot-5 junior Michael Misner. Misner, who was a first-team all-conference selection as a sophomore, led the team in scoring at 14.1 points per game. He added in 3.4 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1 steal per game as well.
“He (Misner) worked and put in countless hours over the summer. When he got back to school last fall, he created an outside shot and added to his overall game,” Hogenmiller said. “I think he understands how he needs to get after it on the defensive end and a willingness to rebound on both ends of the floor. He will play several different positions. He’s capable of playing about any position except point guard.”
Six-foot-four senior Haydon Kisling will provide leadership after earning second-team all-conference honors last year. He was the team’s leading rebounder (7.2 rpg) and third-leading scorer (8.7 ppg) a year ago.
“Haydon leads by example. He works hard as well as the rest of the upperclassmen,” Hogenmiller said. “He plays as a big guard and forward for us. Can guard anyone on the floor.”
Classmate Spencer Caddick will run the point and is a key vocal leader. He posted averages of 6.9 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.4 steals per game last season.
Izaya Swayne, Cristian Velasquez, Blake Ogle, Kendrick Bass, Michael Healey and Jake Chrisman give Sarcoxie a large core of seniors to lean on. Swayne led that group with 9.6 points per game last season. Velasquez chipped in 6.4 points per game.
Drake Acheson played big minutes as a freshman and returns for his sophomore season.
That senior class and its experience will be a source of strength for a team that will strive to improve on the defensive end.
“(Our) biggest strength has to be this team’s experience and leadership. They really do play together and don’t care who gets the credit,” Hogenmiller said. “(We need) more consistency on the defensive end. Defense will turn into offense. If we get stops and pressure the opposing team, we are going to get turnovers and stops and lead to offensive opportunities.”
In addition to chasing a second straight winning season, Sarcoxie is aiming for its first conference title in boys basketball since 1999.
“From going back over previous years, I don’t think Sarcoxie has had back to back winning seasons in a long time. Us coaches and these players expect to be able to do that and then some this year. This group has created and set a great culture here at Sarcoxie. They have been willing to go above and beyond during the season and in the off-season,” Hogenmiller said. “We fell short on a few of our goals last year, and I believe this group is bound and determined to amend what they didn’t accomplish last season. We are returning about 80% of our scoring. This team will be able to run and play fast, and execute on a high level, and play with energy. Our big thing is going to be getting stops on the defensive end, if we fully commit to that, the other things will work themselves out.”
Sarcoxie opens the season on Nov. 26 at Wheaton.