SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Each week, Ozarks Sports Zone ranks area teams based on their dominance by class. Momentum, strength of schedule and recent success are factors in determining the Top 15.
(Class, current record and previous week’s ranking in parenthesis)
1. Waynesville (C5: 19-1, 1) – The Tigers ran their winning streak to 15, but it didn’t come without a scare. It took a Kelleion Williams three-pointer in the final seconds to beat West Plains Friday night and remain the only unbeaten team in Ozark Conference play. Four landmines remain on the schedule; at Parkview, host Kickapoo and Hillcrest, at Republic to close regular season.
2. Strafford (C3: 18-4, 3) – Get to know the name Kyle Foley! Of course the folks in Strafford already do, but the junior has emerged this season as a big time scorer, including 31 points in Friday’s 82-67 win at Skyline. The Indians wrap up the regular season this week before opening district play next Tuesday as the top seed in Hollister.
3. Republic (C4: 18-3, 2) – The Tigers were bamboozled by a red hot Nixa team Friday night. After falling behind 18-2 early they could never recover, dropping just the third game of the season 59-39. Chalk that one up as a tough loss to a bigger school, but expect a better effort Tuesday night as they host another COC Large contender, Willard.
4. Hartville (C3: 21-2, 4) – The Eagles are on a 14-game winning streak, including wins over Conway and Seymour last week. They’ll look to repeat as Summit League champs Tuesday night hosting fellow conference unbeaten Gainesville.
6. Osceola (C2: 18-0, 7) – The Indians remain the area’s only undefeated team for boys and girls. They picked up comfortable wins over Appleton City and Hermitage last week. Jacob Murray is one of the area’s best shooters, but what makes this relatively small team scary is its suffocating pressure defense.
7. Nixa (C5: 16-4, 8) – The Eagles are getting hot at the right time with six straight wins. After beating Carthage by 40 they went on the road to beat defending Class 4 state champ Republic by 20, despite missing senior guard Logan Middleton. What makes the Eagles so good is there size across the board that could give others fits.
8. Kickapoo (C5: 17-5, 5) – Not many thought Glendale would beat rival Kickapoo last week, but that’s why they play the game. The Falcons got hot led by senior Cameron Maes’ 21 points in a 61-52 win at the O’Reilly Center. The Chiefs did bounce back Friday with a 75-58 win over Joplin.
9. Gainesville (C2: 19-3, 10) – The Bulldogs will once again have to wait to play Seymour as Tuesday’s game was postponed until this Friday. Before that however, the Summit League title will be decided in a Tuesday night trip to red hot Hartville; a rematch of a game the Eagles won 73-68 back on January 18th in the Gainesville Tournament Championship.
10. Thayer (C2: 18-3, 12) – The Bobcats keep on rolling with 11 straight wins, most recently over Willow Springs, Houston and Cabool last week. They can all but seal the South Central Association championship with a win at Salem Tuesday before wrapping up the regular season at Ava Thursday.
11. Willard (C5: 17-5, 11) – The Tigers feasted on the bottom portion of the COC Large last week with wins over Webb City and Carthage. Things get a little tougher down the stretch as WHS faces a trip to Republic Tuesday before hosting Nixa next Tuesday in a potential COC Large championship game.
12. Macks Creek (C1: 17-5, 13) – Hey everybody, get to know Austin Mitchell. The six-foot senior guard averaged 35 points in wins over Fair Play and Hermitage last week, including a career high 38 against the Hornets. We’ve got a huge Class 1 showdown Thursday night as the Pirates host streaking Walnut Grove in a remake game.
13. Miller (C2: 18-4, 15) – The Cardinals climb a couple spots after beating Lockwood and College Heights last week. They’ve won seven of eight since falling to Sarcoxie in their own tournament championship. The Cards host Greenfield Tuesday night in a battle to decide the Spring River Valley championship.
14. Walnut Grove (C1: 17-3, NR) – The Tigers won their 11th game in a row last week, blasting Hurley 76-36 to capture the Halfway Tournament championship. As mentioned above, they’ve got a huge Class 1 showdown at Macks Creek Thursday night to wrap up the regular season. Coach Meinder’s club is the top seed in the Class 1 District 5 tournament at Willard beginning Saturday.
15. Rogersville (C4: 15-6, NR) – Six losses may seem like a lot, but they are some really good losses (Poplar Bluff, Republic twice, Ozark, Kickapoo and Willard). The Wildcats have all the tools to be a Class 4 playoff spoiler and are on a roll of late with four straight wins over Ozark, Hollister, Reeds Spring (by 28) and Catholic (by 29).
Knocking on the door: Dora, Lamar, Hillcrest, Skyline, Greenfield, Eminence, Mt Vernon, Sarcoxie
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