By Shelley Ebbrecht (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Head coach Josh Kleine is set for his second year at the helm of the Humansville basketball team after the Tigers finished last season 11-14, dropping the opening round of the district tournament to Weableau.
The team is hoping their focus on fundamentals and defense in the off season will pay off with a winning record this year.
“A big area of emphasis this summer was improving our overall basketball IQ and being able to apply more pressure on defense,” Kleine said. “Our strength will be our defense and overall team quickness. Most teams should have a hard time matching up with us.”
The Tigers’ lineup will have a new look as Humansville lost three seniors to graduation and a freshman with considerable minutes transferred to another school. Dominic Lee averaged 15 points, 6 rebounds and assists per game as last year’s senior point guard. Hayden Fogler averaged double digits in points and rebounds and was known for his blocked shots while Hunter Fogler will be missed for his length for rebounding and defense.
Altogether, the team loses 40 points per game from last year’s squad and will look to three experienced upperclassmen to fill in the gap. Kleine said senior Dalton Wendleton will put up much-needed points for the Humansville offense.
“Dalton is a good shooter and attacks the basket well,” he said. “He is very coachable and will do anything the coaching staff asks.”
On the other end of the court, senior Dustin Shoemaker leads the Tiger defense and will be looked at to step up his offensive game.
“He is our best defender and hardest worker,” Kleine said of Shoemaker. “He is very scrappy around the basket and worked a lot this summer on finishing better around the basket. I look forward to seeing how Dustin’s game progresses this season as he will be called upon to do a lot more on the offensive end as well.”
Bringing up the ball for Humansville will be Isaac Martino, a junior who Kleine called a streaky shooter who can handle the ball well.
Hunter Swearingin is the newcomer to watch. He’s a senior all-state pitcher on the baseball field who did not play basketball last season. At 6’2”, Kleine is hoping Swearingin will bring some much-needed athleticism to the floor after seeing him perform with the team in the off-season.
“Hunter is a guy that can score from all areas on the floor and will be one of our better defenders,” Kleine said.
James Brown is a junior that didn’t get much playing time last year but has a chance to play a big role for the Tigers this season.
“He is only 5’7’’, but he will be the quickest guy on the court most nights,” Kleine said. “He is good at getting to the basket and can defend the other teams’ guards.”
Humansville kicks off their schedule November 18 against School of the Ozarks and will host the Humansville Boys Basketball Tournament beginning November 28.
“I expect us to be competitive this season and be a tough out for any team,” Kleine said. “We should be able to slow teams down a lot more than we did last season on the defensive end.”