By Nolan Epstein (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Going from a roster with zero varsity experience at the beginning of last year to a club sporting an abundance of talent and high expectations this season is a little drastic for most high school teams, but for the Blue Eye Bulldogs, it could be reality in its simplest form.
This time around, sixth-year head coach Kyle Turner hopes the production that he has returning to the court equals solid play and a potential playoff run come March.
If they indeed make a run, it will have to be without a pair of players from last year’s group in Tanner Snowden and Sebastiano Frandino, who helped lead a young Bulldogs team that put up a 13-12 overall record and fell to Greenwood in the opening round of the district tournament after a solid start to the season.
“I felt our youth showed late in the season as we peaked a little early and did not finish well,” Turner said. “With that said, we competed every night and we hope the experience gained will pay dividends this season.”
It’s a good thing Turner has one of the most talented young players in the Ozarks on his roster. All-everything sophomore sharpshooter Andrew Mitchell will pace Blue Eye’s offense after turning heads during his freshman year (17.8 PPG, 6.7 RPG).
Some of Mitchell’s accolades include 1st Team All-District, 1st Team All-Conference and, of course, the Ozarks Sports Zone Freshman of the Year. This season, there’s no reason to believe the star youngster won’t mach or improve on his stellar numbers from last year.
“Andrew [Mitchell] had a great freshman year and has continued to expand his game this summer on both sides of the ball,” said Turner.
Junior Ryan Reagan will run the point guard position once again for the Bulldogs. Averaging 12.2 PPG and 4.2 APG last season, Reagan will serve as a dangerous scoring option outside of Mitchell.
Jacob Porter (4.4 PPG, 4 RPG), one of three seniors on the roster, will utilize his leadership skills while expanding his offensive role.
With four sophomores and four freshmen on board for Turner, players will be pushing others for extended playing time all season in the ultra-competitive SWCL.
“I feel our conference will again be very competitive night in and night out just as it has been since I have been here,” Turner said. “We have a lot of great coaches and many of the teams return most of their starters from last year’s team, so we will have to come ready to compete on a nightly basis.”
Coach Turner doesn’t exactly know what to expect in terms of what his team’s record will look like at the end of the year, but regardless, his philosophy remains the same for the Bulldogs.
“No excuses, work hard in everything we do while focusing on the process, not the result, and put the team above the individual,” added Turner. “We will focus on effort and competing on both ends of the floor trying to improve on a daily basis.”
Blue Eye starts its season slate with a home game against New Covenant Academy on Nov. 22.