Posted: Thursday, 15 November 2012 5:08PM

Longtime assistant takes over West Plains boys

Springfield, Mo. (  -- Longtime assistant coach Kevin Smith takes the reigns of the West Plains boys’ basketball team this season as the Zizzers try to ascend in the rugged Ozark Conference.

Smith, who has been an off and on assistant coach for nine years at West Plains, enters the picture a season after the Zizzers finished with a rare winning record (16-12).

Since joining the Ozark Conference a decade ago, the Zizzers have mostly finished near the bottom of the league standings.

“We expect to be competitive in every game,” said Smith, who also has seven years of head coaching experience with a 55-52 overall record. “We hope to do well in conference play and then make a strong push in districts.”

One initial challenge for West Plains will be replacing honorable mention all-conference guard Braxton Williams, who averaged over 16 points per game and is now playing at North Iowa Area Community College.

Back for the Zizzers are second team all-district forward Cole Butler (10.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and senior guard Logan Miller (9.5 ppg, 74.1 FT%). Taylor Gill, a 6-foot-4 senior forward who averaged 6.8 ppg and 4.0 rpg last season, will be counted upon to help the undersized Zizzers with rebounding.

“The first key in our success will be rebounding because of our size,” Smith said. “Hopefully we will be a good rebounding team. Second key is for us to stay away from injuries as much as possible.”

Other returning players for West Plains include: sophomore guard Zach Flippin, senior forward Dalton Freshour and sophomore forward Justin Davis. Among the newcomers are 6-foot-4 forward Seth Pingleton and guards Dusty Harrill and Josh Jones.

Smith said he plans to play 8-9 players “that can do several things.”

The Zizzers open the season against Tulsa Central, then head to the Parkview Tournament on Nov. 29. They also have non-conference games against Rogersville and Ozark.

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