By Jordan Burton (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Hollister was one of the area’s biggest surprises last year, increasing its win total by nine for an 19-7 season.
That’s the most wins by a Hollister team in more than a decade.
Now the Tigers will look to take the next step as a program in Pete Leonard’s sixth season and return one of the area’s top duos to lead them in the form of 6-foot-4 senior Josh Barlow and 6-foot-2 junior Garrett Snyder.
Barlow – an All-Big 8 and All-District selection – averaged 20 points and seven rebounds per game last year. Snyder – also All-Big 8 and All-District – added 15 points, three rebounds and three assists.
“Josh is an explosive player who has great ability to take this team to the next level,” said Leonard. “Garrett has a great head on his shoulders and is a very talented basketball player. We look for Garrett to expand on his 15 ppg last season and also step up into a bigger leadership position.”
Also returning is 6-foot-5 senior Clay Kemp, who averaged a team-high eight rebounds a night last year. Sophomore Noah Richardson will also see an increased role after playing in 18 games as a freshman.
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“Clay was new to our team last season and was a presence in the paint,” said Leonard. “Clay controls the boards and the paint; we look for him to have a big season this year.
“Noah will be looked at to have a big season this year. He has great footwork and will be looked at in the paint this season.”
A trio of juniors in Ryland Franks (6-3), Luke Caovich (6-3) and Malachi Henry (5-11) will also see varsity minutes again.
“Ryland is a big body inside and has a knack for finding the ball off the rim,” said Leonard. “Luke is a great athlete and a natural leader with varsity minutes last season. We look at him to be a major contributor at the varsity level this year. Mal will be looked at in the point guard position this season, he has a great motor, and is very shifty. We look forward to seeing him in that role this year.”
Leonard is also excited about the development of juniors Zach Nuss (6-0) and Ethan Wright (5-10), as well as sophomore Dylan Greenwood.
Hollister lost in districts to an Ava team they beat by 24 points during the regular season. This group feels like it still has unfinished business. After losing five games by eight points or fewer a year ago, Leonard is hopeful that experience can be the catalyst to the Tigers getting over the hump this winter.
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“Last year was very important for our program in believing they can,” said Leonard. “We have a great group of returning guys with some young talent joining the mix this season.”
Hollister will open the 2021-22 season at home on Nov. 19 against Bradleyville.