By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Last season, Webb City fell just short of a third-straight district championship — the 18-9 Cardinals fell to Nevada 52-49 in the Class 5 District 12 title game.
Head coach Jason Horn’s teams have reached the district championship round in each of his five seasons at the school, capturing three titles during that stretch.
“We enjoyed a lot of success last season winning 18 games, a Kaminsky Classic tournament championship and making our fifth-straight district finals appearance,” Horn said. “Our returning players gained a lot of valuable experience playing a tough schedule and were fortunate enough to play in three tournament championship games.”
Graduated seniors Nickhai Howard, Trenton Hayes, Luke Brumit and Mekhi Garrard move on from the program.
Howard will continue his basketball career at Labette Community College.
“We graduated a great group of seniors and we will struggle to replace their leadership,” Horn said.
Fortunately for Horn and the Cardinals, the cupboard is far from barren.
Webb City will be led by a trio of talented returnees in Cohl Vaden, Kaden Turner and Trey Roets.
Vaden, a 5-foot-9 senior, averaged 12.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.7 steals last season.
“Cohl is a tough, hard-nosed competitor on the court,” Horn said. “He gives us a lot of versatility offensively with his ability to score the basketball. “
Turner, a 6-foot-4 senior, averaged 8.5 points and 5.3 rebounds.
“Kaden’s a very gifted athlete,” Horn said. “His length and athleticism will make him a tough matchup for our opponents. Offensively he can score the ball from all three levels. Defensively he can guard all five spots on the floor.”
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Roets, a 6-foot-4 junior, averaged 2.6 points and 2.1 rebounds.
“I think Trey has the potential to be one of the better players in our league,” Horn said. “He has great footwork and touch around the basket. He can also step out and shoot the ball from the perimeter or take his defender off the bounce.”
A trio of seniors also return in Isaiah Brisco, Dupree Jackson and Max Higginbotham.
“We return a core group that had the opportunity to play in some big games last year,” Horn said. “I think they understand the tradition that Webb City basketball has and they want to add to the tradition.”
The Cardinals will also welcome a pair of varsity newcomers to the squad in sophomore Barron Duda and junior William Hayes.
With talent, depth and experience, Horn believes Webb City will be well positioned to build on last season’s success.
“We want to play a style that best fits our players and that gives them the best opportunity to have success,” Horn said. “We have a quick and athletic group so we will want to push the pace and spread the floor to let our guys get down hill while giving our post players room to operate around the basket.
“Offensively we’ll look a little different than we have in the past couple of seasons by having more of a scoring presence in the post,” Horn said. “Our guard play should still be a strength for us with a number of guys being able to make shots from the perimeter and get to the basket off the dribble. Defensively we have to do a better job of limiting straight line drives and pressuring the ball without committing unnecessary fouls.”
Following a Nov. 18 jamboree at Neosho with McDonald County and the host school, Webb City will tip off its season Dec. 7 at Lamar.