Mitchell= A True Blessing

I have talked many times about the blessings our local athletes can count.  Whether it’s the great support of the community, the caring coaches, or the incredible facilities; most of our local athletes have plenty to be thankful for.

In my opinion, one of the greatest blessings our young athletes have is Brian Mitchell.  Brian is the area representative for South Central Missouri Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

The FCA national website states that the groups vision is to “see the world impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes.”  Well, hard to imagine anyone working harder to see that vison become a reality than Mitchell.  Nearly every day he is on the road in the wee hours of the morning, headed to a coaches’ bible study or school huddle event.  Most everyday hitting multiple schools.  At night you will find him at a College of the Ozarks event or a high school game.

Coaches successes are often gauged by wins and losses. As a Christian myself, I can tell you that its hard to imagine a much greater victory than leading someone to Christ.  But that’s the kind of thing that Mitchell seemingly does on a daily basis.  Even more, he helps students and coaches find ways to lead others to the Lord.

I have lost count of the number of times I have been to games over the past couple of seasons where I see the two teams gather (either before or just after a game) for student led prayer.  Can you attribute this directly to Mitchell?  Maybe not, but the this is the exact kind of “leaders” he is helping to influence all around this part of the state.

Overall, Brian Mitchell is such a blessing to the area.   I am so very grateful our area schools are so receptive.  I am proud that I can consider Brian a friend and a brother in Christ.

photo courtesy of South Central MO FCA website

Spring Sports Have Arrived…

Well, its officially the first day of Spring.  And, God has blessed us with a wonderfully nice day.

The Spring Sports seasons are underway.  High School baseball got underway on Friday.  I had the call of Forsyth vs Reeds Spring on this website.  Lots of tournaments going on this week.  Branson hosts the first of two that they host annually.  Both, Reeds Spring and Forsyth are taking part in the Clever Tournament.  The Panthers host one pool while the Wolves take part in the pool taking part at the host school.

The Branson Lady Pirate Soccer team is already 3-0 on the season.  They won their second consecutive Fair Grove Tournament and did so with three straight shutouts.  They play three times this week. On the road at Mt View Liberty on Tuesday and at Aurora on Thursday, before opening the home portion of their schedule against West Plains on Friday.  My first broadcast of Lady Pirate Soccer is coming soon.

First Track Meets will take place this week.

At College of the Ozarks the baseball team is well into their season.  And the return of Outdoor Track for the first time since 1989 starts on April 1st.

My 1st Annual Post-Season Awards

              With the end of the Basketball season comes all kinds of post season honors.  I started to select an “All-Perry” Team but decided enough of that is already done.  So, I decided to just give my opinion of a few awards I wanted to give out.  I honestly started to pick one in each category and not divide between genders but in the end I thought it only fair that I do so.  I did not consult anyone and went off more of an eye test instead of hard and fast stats.  And although I am sure you can find someone extremely deserving in each category to debate the choice I made, here is what I came up with….. Congrats to all…                                                    


                                                               Girls                                                  Boys


Youngin of the Year(frosh/soph)    Kohnner Patton-BE                 Andrew Mitchell-BE


Keep an Eye On                             Karis Goodwin-Branson                   Cole Nordin-RS


My Final Shot                             Amanda Kearney-Branson                  Lane Carroll-RS


Best Floor General:                           Lacey Moore-For                          Joel Gertson-RS


Straight out Player                      Lauren Garrison-Branson               Rocha-For/Morris-Hol


Controls the Paint                     Tara Utz-Depriest- Branson              Logen Plumb-RS


Most Improved Team                    Reeds Spring                                       Blue Eye


Coach of the Year                           Kip Bough                                             Barry Yocom


Player of the Year                    Amanda Kearney-Branson                    Joel Gertson-RS

Thanks to all the players, coaches, parents, and fans that made this season what it was.  I appreciate each of you.

Two Wolves and a Tiger grab All-COC Honors

The All Conference teams have been released by the coaches from the COC-Small.  And some local guys have garnered recognition.

Logen Plumb and Joel Gertson from Reeds Spring were named to the second team as was Derek Morris from Hollister.

Plumb averaged 13.5 points per night and pulled down 9.4 rebounds per contest.  He also set a school record by drawing 24 charges on the season.

Gertson scored 10.4 points a night and the senior set school records for assists in a season and a career.

I would love to have seen Lane Carroll get recognition but I understand there are only so many spots available and I know that coaches are not allowed to vote for their own players.

Reeds Spring finished the season 18-10

Morris led a young Tigers team in scoring with 16.5 points per game. He was also named to the Class 3 District 11 All-District Team.

Joining the three on the second team was Tristen Letterman-Marshfield, Andrew Scott-Rogersville, and Ian Cochran-Catholic.

The first team was made up of Brandon Emmert and Conley Garrison of Bolivar, Matthew McHenry from Rogersville, Jarrett Paoni or Marshfield, and Catholic’s Jake Branham.

Plumb and Gertson were also named to the Class4 District 9 All-District Team as well..  Congrats.


photo courtesy of Wolves BB twitter account


Kearney Special On and Off the Court.

The Branson Lady Pirates saw their season end on Saturday with a loss in the State Quarterfinals.  A season that saw more wins (25) than ever before in program history.  It’s a loss that brought an end to the Branson basketball careers of Five special ladies including Amanda Kearney.

I have known Amanda since, I believe, she was in third grade.  She is a classmate of my youngest son, Daniel.  By now, most everyone knows that Daniel suffers from Autism and Neurofibromatosis.  Her dad worked with Daniel for a couple of years.  And, Amanda would go out of her way to make sure Daniel was “part of the group”.   It’s amazing how much difference a caring person can mean to him.  While he may not have much contact with her, these days, there is no doubt he knows who she is.  He will act shy and deny it if anyone asks him, but when he sees her highlights on television he still refers to her as “My Manda”.

On the court Amanda has been nothing short of amazing.  She surpassed the 2000 point mark in a game at Republic late this past season.  And, according to my numbers, she ends her Lady Pirate career with 2166 points.  Her grit and determination to win is overshadowed, only by her smile and obvious love for the game.  Many times a player that scores in droves, like that, can easily become selfish and develop a “me” attitude.  That has never been the case with Amanda.  Anyone that has ever seen her knows how much she cares about her teammates.

We had heard about her ability to score before she ever reached high school.  And boy did she ever deliver.  I remember a program in elementary school where the kids were supposed to dress like someone from Missouri or a person that made their impact while in the state of Missouri.  I can remember Kearney in a Jackie Stiles jersey.  Little did we know at that time that she would develop into a scorer like her hero.

When next season comes Kearney will be wearing the Black and Gold of Harding University.  She will be missed at Branson without a doubt.  Is she the greatest player to ever wear a Lady Pirate uniform?  That is a judgement question that everyone can answer for themselves.  There is no doubt she is the most prolific scorer.  She holds every record to that effect.  But, it’s not the points that, this guy will miss.  It’s that smile and the overall incredible young woman that is AMANDA KEARNEY.

Photo courtesy of facebook
photo courtesy of Larry Plumlee

Miller will get a shot at Benedictine

Garrett Miller went into his senior season at Reeds Spring looking to have a huge year.  The senior defensive end looked poised to make a lot of noise for the Wolves.  But, it was far from the year he envisioned.  Miller went down late in the Wolves memorable win over Bolivar.  He returned for some snaps against Hollister, but that would be it for the season.  A knee injury would keep him on the sidelines the rest of the way.

But, despite the not having a long senior highlight reel, Miller showed enough in the few games he played this season to go along with his production as an underclassman that Benedictine could see him lining up on their defensive line.  Yesterday, he made it official, signing a national letter of intent to attend the Atchison, KS school.

MillerSigning (click link for interview with Garrett)

Miller is looking to study International Business.

signing NLI for Benedictine
Miller with his parents and brothers

Yocom Adding to his Legacy at Reeds Spring


Barry Yocom is finishing his fifth season as the head basketball coach at his alma mater.   When he was interviewing for the job I remarked that he was the “perfect fit”.  Five years later that has never been more evident.  He has built a program at Reeds Spring.

He may not have the Wolves ready to win a state title or even make a long run into the state playoffs but he has built a winner.  They have won 17 games this season, thus far, and still have the District Tournament ahead of them.  The team has won 16+ games in back to back seasons for the first time since the FINAL FOUR team of 1999-2000.  And, with the vast majority of the team returning next season, they will have a great shot at having a winning record in back to back to back seasons for only the second time in school history.  It was 1970-1973 the only other time it has happened.

His group plays as a team.  He has instilled discipline and a true “family” atmosphere.  It all starts with the philosophy of “binging it” EVERYDAY.  They are unselfish and that has shown up on the court.  The school records that have been broken this year are great examples of doing what it takes to help the team.  Logen Plumb broke Yocom’s school record for Charges taken in a season.  And Joel Gertson has rewritten the assists record book.  This season he has surpassed the previous marks for dimes in a game, season, and career.

This type of lunchpail work ethic is nothing more than a reflection of Yocom, himself.  As a 6-2 post player all Yocom did was score the most points (1773) in school history.  He did this while competing with no less than THREE division I post players in the same conference. (Steven Hill-Branson (Arkansas) Drew Richards-Rogersville (Missouri State) and Sam Singh (Ozark-Bradley)

Yocom coaches with passion.  While not extremely animated on the sideline there is no mistaking how much he is into every game.  His maturity is evident in the way he handles both his players and the officials when thing go the wrong way;  and, the way he celebrates the players success, but also, taking “moments to teach” when they go astray.

Whether the season ends with an opening round district loss or the Wolves stamp their way to the State Playoffs with a district title, this year will be labeled as a success and so has been the coaching career at Reeds Spring of Coach Yocom

The Wolves play Marshfield in the opening round of Districts, Monday Night at 6:00 in Bolivar.

photo courtesy of Twitter

District Outlook…

We have reached the post season for basketball in Missouri.  Small schools districts are underway and the big schools start as early as Saturday.

Here is a look at how I see the districts involving local teams…. Before anyone gets upset.. bear in mind that I am going with what I think will most likely happen and not necessarily what I would like to see happen.

Class 2 District 11 Girls….

The number one seed is Blue Eye and I don’t see a reason to go any other direction.  The Lady Bulldogs are having another solid season under Coach Elfrink and his young club really looks to be the class of the field.

Miller or Crane will have a shot in the final.  Crane is the #3 seed but I look for their experience to pay off in the semi-final.

Class 2 District 11 Boys…

Marionville is the #1 seed here.  But I think any of the top three can win it.  I am going to go with the winner of the semi-final between Crane and Blue Eye to pull off the upset in the Championship game.  Andrew Mitchell may be the best player in the field.  If he gets hot this week Blue Eye may just take a trip to Carthage next Wednesday for a boys-girls double header.

Class 3 District 11  Girls…

Strafford is the number one seed and is the best team in Missouri at any class.  It would take a huge upset for them not to win this thing going away.  At this point my only question is will anyone keep the TURBO CLOCK from starting.

Forsyth and Hollister are both on this field.  Forsyth has been really good at times but got a tough draw against a really good Clever team in the first round.  Would love to see them stick around and Lacey Moore and the crew make a run, but its going to be a uphill battle.

Class 3 District 11 Boys….

This district is loaded at the top.  Fair Grove is the host and the top seed and in the end the team that I think will come out.  But, Clever and Springfield Catholic are both title worthy contenders.  Don’t count out Strafford.  With Mike Wilson on the bench anything is always possible and they have been playing a lot better as of late.

If Forsyth can get back the intensity they played with the first half of the year their first round game with the Indians could be a fun one to watch. They have the ability to pull off the upset but only if they find that cohesive teamwork we saw before Christmas.  Hollister has shown glimpses.  If ever there was a time to throw the switch, that time is now.

Class 4 District 9 girls…

Rogersville is the two seed behind West Plains but I am going with the Lady Wildcats to win it.  They have wins over the Zizzers and third seeded Bolivar this year and stayed within 12 of Strafford.  None of those three would surprise me advancing…

Reeds Spring is in the district, they take on Bolivar in the opening round.  Boy, what a turnaround for the Lady Wolves.  They have already won NINE games this year.  That is up from two a season ago.  What a tremendous job.

Class 4 District 9 Boys….

Everything points to a rematch of the Bolivar Tournament Championship game on this same floor a few weeks ago.  Hillcrest beat Bolivar in Overtime to win that one… I think they do it again.

Reeds Spring gets a rematch with Marshfield in the opening round.  The Wolves lost a close one to the BlueJays Friday Night.  They get revenge in the rematch.

Class 5 District 11 Girls….

This will be the one that I am accused of being a “homer” for picking.   I am going with Branson to win it.  The Lady Pirates are playing their best basketball, right now.  Since the upset loss to Nixa they have wheeled off six in  a row including wins against Webb City, St Joe Benton, Republic, and Ozark all on the road.  The loss to Nixa is probably the only thing that prevented them from being seeded ahead of Kickapoo.  Now, having to beat Ozark and Kickapoo both to win the tournament is no easy task, and one of the reasons that top seed would have been nice.  But, this group of girls has a real shot to make it happen.

Class 5 District 11 Boys…

I like the club that Mark Schweitzer has at Ozark and I do like the offensive ability of Glendale.  But there is just no way to pick against Kickapoo in this one.  The Chiefs are good, really good.  They are deep.  If there is some hope for the others, it might be that the Chiefs have not won any of the three Tournaments they have played in this year…. that is until you look at the tournaments that they have played in…..  Sorry Folks Chiefs win it going away……

Branson plays Parkview in the opening round.  Its been a rough year for the Pirates.  If they could pull of an upset and get a district win it might take just a little sting out of a long season.

Random thoughts on a Friday..

As I sit here after finishing my prep for tonight’s basketball games a few random things come to mind..

  1. This basketball season has flown by. It wasn’t that long ago we were getting ready for the Forsyth Tournament.
  2. Happy to see Alexis Mitchell get the volleyball job at Hollister.  Its great the way that God always has a plan.
  3.  Have heard nothing but good things about Anthony Hays, Bransons new football coach.
  4. Good to see the improvement of Reeds Spring girls basketball.  From 2 wins to a chance at 10.  Thats incredible.
  5. Blue Eye girls have a real shot to advance to the state playoffs.  Ken Elfrink does a great job year in and year out.
  6. Considering doing a story on my district predictions….
  7. Looking forward to baseball season.  What local team will step up this year and make a run?
  8. Becky Vest does a great job at CofO.  She takes girls from across the Ozarks and molds them into the nations best.
  9. Saw the Reeds Spring Volleyball job was open…. Branson, Hollister, and Reeds Spring all in the same year?
  10.  If you have not had a chance to see Amanda Kearney play… better get out there before its too late.. Players like her do not come along that often.
  11.  Week One of Football season 182 days away.
  12. I love doing what I do.  God has truly blessed me.

Thats all for now.  Thanks for reading.  Have an incredible weekend and my God Bless.




Branson names new Volleyball Coach

The Branson Lady Pirate Volleyball Program has a new leader.  Lauren Dorris has been named to fill the position vacated with the retirement of Becky Lipacek.

The announcement was made in a press release this morning after being approved by the School Board last night.

Dorris comes to the Lady Pirates after a lot of success at Holden High School.  Her Clubs have won the past two Missouri River Valley Conference Championships.  The went undefeated in Conference playing doing so.

“We welcome Lauren to the Pirate family,” said David Large, Branson High School activities director. “Her experiences as a coach and a college player will provide her the skills necessary to develop a firm foundation with our athletes on and off the court. We look forward to a great season of play.”

Dorris is a Springfield native.  She is a graduate of Hillcrest High School.  She played college volleyball, while doing her undergrad work at Drury.  And, received her masters from McNeese State University.

The Lady Pirates were 17-13-3 last year and fell to Ozark in the District Semi-Finals.