The Baxter Springs boys basketball team has a new leader for the 2017-18 season, and one with 31 years of experience. Alan Hibler comes from large school Ponca City, Oklahoma, where he coached the last 11 years. He retired from the Oklahoma school system to be closer to his wife’s family in Carthage, Missouri.
Coach Hibler has a record of 479 wins. He is a past president of the Oklahoma Coaches Association, coached a state All-Star game, and has been a Conference Coach of the Year. He has also coached in 22 basketball play-offs, and had a state championship in track and field, one in cross country, and a runner-up in cross country.
"Everything has been positive since my family has arrived," said Coach Hibler. "The administration has been great, and everything is running smooth with the transition."
The Lions have a great nucleus back from last year. They have basically a senior and junior squad. The seniors are 6’ 5” Max Sheffer, 6’0” Brant Trease, 6’ 3” Preston Landis, and 5’ 8” Stephan Namelo. Vance Aquith, 5’ 7”, hasn’t played for a couple of years and is also a senior.
Junior 6’ 1” Trey White was chosen on the second team of the CNC League last year. Additional juniors are 6’ 0” Blake Theissen, 5’ 8” Landon Abbott, 6’ 6” Tucker Graves, 6’ 3” Wyatt Buck, and 6’ 1” Billy Buck.
Former boys head coach Kyle Crotts is an assistant, along with Anthony Roberts who coached many of the boys when he was their middle school coach.
“We like what we are seeing," said Coach Hibler. "We are way ahead of what we thought we would be at this time of the year."
This last summer the Lions lost two games, and that was with large Oklahoma schools.
In the CNC Coaches Poll the Lions were picked tied for third with Colgan and Galena. Girard was picked first, and Frontenac second.
The Riverton Rams basketball squad have 28 young men out this year. Second year head coach Bronson Schaake said of his 2017-18 team: "We expect to be more competitive, and get past 10 wins with our experience. We have more quality depth, and our numbers are up. With nine freshmen out we look for some of them to earn varsity time."
The Rams will be led by senior 6’ 2” Bayley Lunsford. Lunsford earned CNC League Honorable Mention last year. Fellow classmates are 6’ 1” Travis Comer, 6’ 2” Gage Kirby, and 6’ 0” Jared McMaster.
As sophomores with varsity time last year, the now juniors will provide experience. Matt Teel 6’ 2”, Cade Riggin 6’ 3”, 5’ 8” Max Morrow, 5’ 9” Tyler Zustiak, and Carson Shockley 6’ 2” are the juniors. Two sophomores, 6’4” Bryce Johnson and 6’ 2” Carter Brown, saw varsity action as freshmen.
Two things add to the improvement for the upcoming anticipated season.
"We had a really good summer season” said Coach August. "We traveled to the Kansas City and Manhattan area and we showed that we can play."
The second reason is that Riverton High School has a full time weight and condition coach. Devin Hance came from the Kansas City area this school year.
"He really has made both our girls and boys stronger, and more flexible," said Coach August. "Coach Hance has really made a difference in the Ram sports."
Riverton now has a new beautiful college size court. No more smaller pit. Visiting teams may have a tough time adjusting to the vast size and well lit arena.
Coach Matt Meyr and his Galena Bulldogs boys basketball team had a very successful 2016-17 season finishing with a 20-4 record. The Bulldogs finished second in the CNC League, and advanced to the state tournament. They were eliminated in the first round losing by only one point.
The Bulldogs have plenty of numbers with 30 players out. They are led by two returning CNC League recipients. Senior Garrett Hall at 6’ 4” was the team leading scorer averaging about 19 points per game. Hall is on track to break the 1,000 point mark early in the season. Staying healthy, he could become the Bulldogs all time scorer in Galena’s history. Senior J.C. Shelton 5’ 9” was chosen as Honorable Mention in the CNC.
Fellow seniors returning are 6’ 3” Trevor Little, 5’ 9” Michael Helton, and 6‘ 2“ Matt Adams. Rounding out the varsity rotation are juniors 6’4” M J Jones and 6’ 5” Logan Henderson, and 6’ 2” Blake Booth.
Coach Meyr, and assistants Ross Bailey and Derik Hunt, open the season on their home court facing Columbus this Friday.
Columbus had a rough run of the court last season, finishing 3-18. The Titans were picked last in the preseason coaches poll, but anything can happen in the CNC. Columbus have just a handful of seniors on this year's squad. The bulk of the team is comprised of an inexperienced sophomore squad chock full of raw talent ready to be shaped.
The Titans have a balanced mix of athleticism, with plenty of speed. On the low end, both coming in at 6'3", is Coltin Laurance and Jay Perry.
Columbus starts its season on the road, taking on powerhouse Galena at 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 1.