By Mark Spillane
Monett boys basketball enters the year looking for its first winning season since 2016.
Head Coach Jeremy Land says the Cubs will need to learn on the fly if they wish to accomplish that.
“We have to replace a lot of scoring and rebounding from last year. We will need to do that as a collective group. It could take a little time to adjust to that style, but the kids embraced it this summer. I am excited to see their growth throughout the year,” Land said.
Land points to two returning starters, both seniors, as players to lean on: forward Cameron George and guard Ben Hoyt.
“Cameron will be a three-year starter this year and his experience will be needed as we will be young in some spots. He will be able to score in a variety of ways,” Land said.
George averaged 7.4 points per game last season.
“Ben is our other returning starter and our only guard with much varsity experience,” Land said. “I look for him to play with much more confidence offensively for us this year.”
Hoyt averaged 2.6 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game last season.
Several juniors will join that senior duo as impactful players: Tyler Waterman, Daniel Navarro, Wyatt Sitton, Cameron Ervin and Drew Ervin. Navarro averaged 2.9 points and 1.1 rebounds per game last season.
“Daniel brings a unique skill set to our team,” Land said. “He really came on in the last 3-4 games of the year last year as a sophomore. He is our best ball handler and is able to create his own shot or drive and kick.”
Land points to Waterman as a team leader as well.
“Tyler is a true competitor and leads by example every day. I look for his intensity to be a spark for our team throughout the year,” Land said.
Seniors Aleks Salas, Isaac Hilton and Ryan McColloch and sophomores Blaine Salsman, Jason Garner, Isiah Meeks, Ian Hildebrand and Marcus Young will contribute to the Cubs this year as well.
Land hopes the depth the team has will allow the Cubs to play fast.
“We are going to play a more up tempo style this year,” Land said. “We’ll try to create some offense with our defense. I expect us to compete on the defensive end and always have more energy than the other team.”
Monett’s first chance to try that style is at Mt. Vernon on Dec. 1.