By Denise Tucker (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Coming off a district championship just two years ago, Camdenton boys’ head coach Craig Campbell said his squad had high hopes going into last season.
But, the Lakers struggled to a 5-22 overall record, 1-8 in the Ozark Conference.
“Last year was a growing year for the coaching staff and the players,” Campbell said. “Learning to battle through adversities, as well as striving to become better each day, were our goals by the end of the season. We had 18 different players play at least one varsity minute last season and it showed due to our lack of experience and our overall record.
“The fact we had several freshmen, sophomores and juniors get to play some varsity action that were not slated to be on varsity going into the year, shows some of the adversity we had to overcome – and we did – playing some of our best basketball in district action, setting the foundation for this season to hopefully bounce back and compete like we are capable of doing.”
The Lakers lost three seniors from last year’s team in Paxton DeLaurent, Brandon Pasley and Drake Miller. DeLaurent, who scored more than 1,000 points for his career, was a Class 4 District 10 selection and a first-team All-OC pick. He is now playing football at Central Methodist University. Pasley was selected to the all-conference defensive team and is playing baseball at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, while Miller is playing baseball at State Fair Community College.
With the challenges that the 2019-2020 season brought, Campbell does bring back experience with several players getting some varsity playing time.
• Joel Mason, 5-foot-11, senior guard, averaged 8.1 points per game and 2.5 rebounds per game. “Joel has great athleticism and can score from all three levels.”
• Tony Glynn, 5-10, senior guard, 4.8 ppg, 2.2 rpg. “Tony has good handles, court vision, and can shoot.”
• Parker Garrett, 6-4, senior forward, 2.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg. “Parker is a good defender and gets a lot of rebounds.”
• Kam Durnin, 5-10, sophomore guard, 4.0 ppg, 1.5 rpg. “Kam is a good ballhandler, shooter and defender.”
• Javari Stewart, 6-0, sophomore guard, 2.0 ppg, 2.7 rpg. “Javari is a good defender and can attack the basket.”
• Aaron Poage, 6-4, sophomore forward, 2.5 ppg, 1.5 rpg. “Aaron is a very skilled player.”
“Our overall athleticism as a program has improved over the last few years, as well as skills as basketball players,” Campbell said. “The experience we gained last year should help us take that next step back to very competitive basketball.”
The Lakers will be looking to a group of newcomers to add to the team’s depth, which Campbell said should be one of Camdenton’s strengths this season.
• Cody Hendrix, 6-1, senior forward. “Cody has a knack for getting his hand on the basketball and will be looked at to bring energy when he is on the court.”
• Brayden Blackman, 5-11, senior guard. “Brayden is a good 3 and D player and rebounds well from the guard position.”
• Kyle Christiansen, 5-10, junior guard. “Kyle is an athletic guard who will bring a lot of energy to the court and be looked to be a menace on defense.”
• Cooper Barrett, 6-0, sophomore guard. “Cooper can drive, shoot, and play solid defense. He is the ultimate team player, who puts team success first.”
• Ethan Evans, 6-3, sophomore forward. “Ethan is a big strong kid, that will be a mismatch problem for the other team.”
“With the experience we gained last year, expectations for this year are to be back competing for a district championship, top of the conference and winning 20 games in a season, which has not been done at Camdenton in many, many years,” Campbell said. “Competing in the Ozark Conference is always tough and if you have an off night, you will lose. But, we have a team capable of competing with anyone, especially the quicker we can gel and build our team chemistry.”
And, even with all of the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented this year, the Lakers have continued to prepare for their scheduled season opener at Aurora on Dec. 1.
“We were only able to play about half of the games/sessions this summer that we had planned, but for the most part since school has started, we have not had too much interference with our plans,” Campbell said. “The guys have been working hard and are excited to start the season.
“Our motto for this year is: ‘Enjoy the time you have on the court, play like it might be the last time you get to be out there,’ because with all the uncertainties right now, you never know when that might actually be the case.”