Basketball Postseason is upon us – District Matchups Announced

Boy, how time flies.  It seems like we were just finished the Tournaments to start the season.  But, just like that Districts are just about here.  Small schools can open district play THIS SATURDAY.

Blue Eye will get the opportunity to host the Class 2 District 11 Tournament.  The host Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs received the top seeds in their respective brackets.

The girls side will get underway on Saturday with three games.  (Blue Eye as the top seed, gets a bye in the seven seed tournament, due to the fact that Marionville chose not to field a Varsity team this year.

Fourth seeded Verona will take on Number 5 Galena at 1:00.  That will be followed by 2) Miller vs 7) School of the Ozarks at 2:15.  In the final game of the day 3) Crane will play 6) Billings.

Blue Eye will play the Verona vs Galena winner on Tuesday at six and Miller/SofO vs Crane /Billings will follow.  The Championship game is scheduled for Next Friday at 5:30.

The Boys side of that District will start on Monday.  1) Blue Eye vs 8) Miller starts it off at 4:00 followed by 4)School of the Ozarks vs 5)Verona at 5:30.  Crane is the number two seed and plays #7 Galena at 7:00 and the late game will feature 3)Billings vs 6)Marionville.

The semis are scheduled for next Wednesday with Blue Eye/Miller facing SofO/Verona at 6 and Crane/Galena vs Billings/Marionville at 7:30.  Championship will follow the girls on Friday Night

The Class 3 District 11 Tournament is being hosted by Strafford this year.    The Lady Indians, are one of the best teams in the nation at any class and are the overwhelming number one seed on the girls side.  The Springfield Catholic Boys get the nod on in their Tournament.

The Girls Tournament starts on Monday with all four first round games.   Strafford will play Hollister at 4 followed by 4)Catholic vs 5)Buffalo at 5:30.  Second seeded Clever will take on 7) Ash Grove at 7 and the late game will feature 3) Fair Grove and 6)Forsyth.

Semi-Finals will take place on Wednesday.  Strafford/Hollister vs Catholic/Buffalo at 6 and Clever/Ash Grove vs Fair Grove/Forsyth at 7:30.  The Championship game is scheduled for Saturday Afternoon at 3.

The boys will take the court on Tuesday.  Top Seeded Catholic will play Buffalo at 4 and 4)Forsyth gets a rematch with 5)Clever at 5:30.  Second seeded Strafford vs 7) Ash Grove will tip around 7 and the late game will be 3)Fair Grove and 6) Hollister.

Thursday Night will be semi-final night for the guys.  Catholic/Buffalo vs Forsyth/Clever at 6 and Strafford/Ash Grove vs Fair Grove/Hollister at 7:30.  The boys will play their Championship game following the girls game on Saturday.

The Class 4 and 5 districts featuring out local teams will be seeded today and tonight.  They can start as early as Next Saturday.

Hollister Hires New Football Coach..

The Hollister Tiger football program will have a new look when they kick off the 2018 football season.  That new look will start from the top.  Last month Jacob Hamon announced he was leaving his post as head coach to take an assistant coaching job at Branson.  Today, Hollister announced that hey have hired a new head coach.

Rich Adkins has been hired to take over the program.  Adkins has spent the last two years leading the football team at Mountain Grove.  He was 17-7 in his two years in charge of the Panthers and made the district championship game both seasons.  His offenses averaged better than 36 points per game.  Before that he coached at Jasper, where he won back to back conference titles and was named coach of the year.  He was an assistant at his alma mater, Webb City.

“My family is excited to be a part of the Hollister School District,” said Adkins when asked about his new job.  “My wife and I have been very impressed with the entire operation at Hollister and its innovative approach to education.  My goal is to build a program that will represent the school and community in a positive manner both on and off the field.”

Stanford Says “YES” to Evangel…

Forsyth has had Varsity Football for exactly one season.  They have not played a Conference Football Game.  The Missouri State High School Activities Association has not even put them in a district.  But, they do have their first college football signee.

This morning in front of a large group of well wishers Anthony Stanford signed a National Letter of Intent to further his football and academic career at Evangel University in Springfield.

The 6-2 standout was a force this past season for the Panthers.   On the offensive side of the ball he caught 55 balls for 1,000 yards and  11 touchdowns.   He had a season high 12 catches against Lighthouse Christian.  Defensively he had Nine tackles for loss, including 5.5 sacks and forced three fumbles.

Stanford is also a force on the Panthers basketball team that currently sits atop the standings in the Southwest Central League.

The Crusaders have indicated they plan to use Stanford on the defensive side of the ball, most likely as a defensive back.  Evangel is an NAIA institution and competes in the Heart of America Conference.

StanfordSigning  (click link for interview Jim Connell and I did with Anthony)

Anthony with his guardians, Paul and Jayme Voliva, and coaches
the signing

FCA to Bring the Inspirational Robles to Branson

In the world of sports we often talk about adversity and an athletes ability to overcome.   Most of the time to have ultimate success you have to climb over one hurdle or another.  However, sometimes, the hurdle  that has to be conquered looks more like a mountain.  Perhaps no story is a greater example of this, than that of this years featured speaker at the South Central Missouri Fellowship of Christian Athletes Male and Female Athletes and Coach of the Year Banquet.

Anthony Robles is a 3-time All-American Wrestler from Arizona State.  His senior season, he went a perfect 36-0 and won the 2011 National Championship at 125 pounds.  He was named the National Tournaments Most Outstanding Wrestler.

This accomplishment is great and would be an inspiration with nothing more than I have stated above.  But,  the mountain that Robles had to conquer was much higher and more steep.  Robles,a former winner of ESPNs Jimmy V award for perseverance, did all of this despite being born with only one leg.

Mark your calendar now, reserve the night of April, 5th to attend the banquet and hear the inspirational story from the man himself.  Hear Robles share his philosophy that “courage and the tenacity to never give up on your dreams can make you and unstoppable force.”

Tickets are on sale now… call 593-6474 to reserve yours today.

Robles after winning the NCAA National Title

Goodbye Branson…. Hello Palm Beach

When it comes to the Branson Lady Pirates Soccer Record Book, McKenzie Duncan is practically rewriting it.  In the young programs history, no player has scored more goals, or had more assists.  And she still has a full season to add to those numbers.

As a Junior she was first team all conference, all-district, and all-region.  With a promising senior season, still ahead of her, she cant wait to get on the field with her teammates.  With a solid group returning from last year and the addition of some promising talent, the Lady Pirates will be looking to scorch the nets this Spring.

But a year from now, while many of us will be dreading the next ice storm, McKenzie will be enjoying the beach.  This afternoon, Duncan made it official, she will be taking her talents and furthering her academic career at Palm Beach Atlantic University in Florida.

The Sailfish are an NCAA Division II school and compete in the Sunshine State Conference.

Last Spring the Lady Pirates advanced to the District Title Game for the fist time in the programs history.

McKenzieDuncan  (click link to hear my interview with McKenzie)

McKenzie and Family
The signing
with family and coaches

Asa Goes From Being a Wolf to a Lion

There is no mistaking the personality of Asa Baker.   The big guy draws people around him.   His smile and go happy demeanor are uniquely Asa! You would never guess that he has been in the Reeds Spring school system his whole life.

The offensive/defensive lineman made the move to Reeds Spring from Owensville.  There is no doubt that the Dutchmen loss was Reeds Spring’s gain.   He helped pave the way for the most prolific rusher in Reeds Spring history.  He and his linemates consistently owned the line of scrimmage week in and week out.

On Thursday, he signed a National Letter of Intent to continue his football and academic career at Lindenwood University in St. Charles.  The Lion Coaches expect to use him on the defensive side of the ball.

Lindenwood is  an NCAA Division II school.  They were 4-7 a year ago and compete in the MIAA.

AsaSigning  (click link to hear interview with Asa)

Asa and teammates
making it official
with the Coaches
photo courtesy of Stevie Plumb
photo courtesy of Stevie Plumb

Hollister Coach Crosses the Lake to Return “Home”

There has never been Hollister football without Jacob Hamon.   He has been there from the beginning.   After graduating from Evangel in 2008, he was hired as part of Kevin Roepke’s original staff.  He has served as the Tigers head coach since 2014.

Long before he roamed the sidelines wearing Hollister, blue and white,  he was an all-state player for Steve Hancock and Ron Martin at Branson.  By almost any accounts he is still one of the best defenders to ever put on a Pirates uniform.

Next season, he will once again put on the red and black of the Branson Pirates.  This time it will be a coaches shirt.

He has resigned his post leading the Tiger football program and has accepted an assistant coaching position on Anthony Hays’ staff.  It is thought he will be working with the defensive line.  He will also be teaching at the Jr High.

The Branson school board approved the hiring at its meeting on Thursday Night and on Friday morning, Coach Hamon had the conversation with his Hollister team and let them know that he is leaving.

Hollister was 2-8 this past season but they are only a year removed from going 5-5 with what was probably the best team in the programs history.

Hamon during a practice

Hamon speaking at a player signing

Lady Cats Continue to Stockpile Talent

The success of Coach Becky Vest’s quest to find talent around the Ozarks continues.  The leader of the College of the Ozarks Lady Cat program has done an incredible job of finding players that can compete on the national level, right here in the Ozarks.

That success has seemingly continued with her latest signing.  A year ago she secured the most prolific three point shooter in Missouri prep history (Abby Oliver) and now she has locked down the top long distance shooter in the state of Arkansas.  Hannah Pfeifer of Mountain Home, Ark. signed her letter of intent on Thursday to continue her basketball career with the Lady Bobcats.   Pfeifer is a 5’7 shooting guard, averaging 16 points per game and shooting over 40% from the three-point line.

Pfeifer joins a recruiting class that already includes Michelle Gabani, from Bolivar,  and  Gainesville’s Annie Noah.

This year’s Lady Cats are 20-1 and are ranked #3 in the country.

photo courtesy of CofO

All-Time Scoring Leaders Headed to CofO Hall of Fame

By: Dori Rapinchuk. CofO SID

Two NAIA All-Americans make up the College of the Ozarks Sports Hall of Fame inductees for 2018. The honorees will be inducted during the 2018 Sports Hall of Fame Luncheon on Saturday, Feb. 10.

The first 2018 inductee is Morgan Smith, who came to the Lady Cats following a stellar high school career. She played three seasons at Marshfield High School and was a key contributor for the Nixa Lady Eagles Class 5 State Championship during her senior year, earning All-State honors. Smith played for the Lady Cats from 2010-2013. In her four-year career, Smith lead the Lady Cats to 120 wins, including a National Tournament Runner Up finish in 2012. Smith was a two-time NAIA First Team All-American and three-time MCAC Player of the Year.  In 2013, Smith was named to the WBCA All-American team. In 2012, she was selected to the NAIA First Team All-Tournament team.  Smith set a single-season scoring record (845) and a single-season field goals made record (312). Smith holds school records for most career field goals made (1,024), most free throws made (595), and is the Lady Cats all-time leading scorer with 2,646 points.  On Nov. 1, 2013, the College recognized Smith’s contributions by officially retiring and displaying her #45 jersey in the Keeter Gymnasium. Smith graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Studio Art: Graphic Design and Ceramics.

The second inductee is Mike Wiebe, who hails from Branson High School where he recorded an All-State career.  Wiebe played for the Bobcats from the 2010 season through 2013.  In his four-year career, Wiebe helped lead the Bobcats to 81 wins, a Final Four berth in the 2011 NAIA Men’s National Championship, and an Elite 8 finish in 2013. Wiebe earned NAIA Second Team All-American honors three consecutive years, was named the 2009-10 Conference Freshman of the Year, and the 2012 Midlands Conference Player of the Year. In addition, Wiebe set school records for single-season scoring (797 points), most career free throws made (501), and is the Bobcats’ all-time scoring leader with 2,468 points.  On Nov. 2, 2013, the College recognized Wiebe’s contributions by officially retiring and displaying his #12 jersey in the Keeter Gymnasium. Wiebe graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Administration: Marketing.

After receiving nominations from alumni, former or present coaches, faculty, staff, administrators, fans, boosters, parents, friends, classmates, etc., a faculty athletic committee selects inductees based on their accomplishments within the sports arena at College of the Ozarks.

For those interested in attending the Sports Hall of Fame luncheon, tickets are $20 and must be purchased in advance by contacting Dori Rapinchuk in the College’s Sports Information Office at 417-690-2565.  Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

photo courtesy of CofO
photo courtesy of CofO