CLASS 4A BOYS Farmington has the pieces in place to make a big run
November 8, 2009
FARMINGTON Experience and balance make Farmington the consensus pick to win the 1-4A Conference this year.
The Cardinals should contend for their first state championship with essentially the same team that earned a share of the conference title and advanced to the quarterfinals of the state tournament last year, finishing 24-9 and 12-2 in conference play.
Five senior starters return, along with the top five reserves.
The Cardinals relied heavily on an unselfish point guard and four players who scored 11-13 points per game.
Matt Ryan led the fast break capably while averaging 5.5 assists per game last season, and shot well from the perimeter to open up the inside. Farmington’s leading scorer was 6-3 power forward Blake Abrecht, who averaged 13 points and 5.5 rebounds a game.
“Evan is the heart of our team,” Farmington Coach Beau Thompson said. “He’s the only player we can’t afford to lose.”
Tyler Haskins, a 6-2 senior center, didn’t play as a sophomore but came on strong late last season. Forward Collin Woodward is the team’s best shooter, and guard Evan Yochum is its top defender.
Thompson’s main concern is avoiding another inauspicious finish. The Cardinals started 21-5 last season, but they lost their final conference game and then dropped 3 of 6 games in the postseason.
“We’re focused toward the end of the year,” he said. “We want to have success in late January and February. The hardest thing this year will be to get out of theregional tournament.”
Pea Ridge returns four starters, led by 6-6 senior Kip Kelly, the conference’s most legitimate college prospect.
Kelly can play any position except the point but fits best at small forward for the Blackhawks, who went 15-13 and advanced to regionals last season. Juniorforward Cameron Thompson wasn’t much of factor early last season, but he came on strong late in the year and averaged 21.3 points over the final three games.
Huntsville (24-7, 12-2), which lost to Subiaco Academy in the first round of regionals last year, has only one returning starter, junior point guard Bailey Counts.
“He’s a fierce competitor,” Huntsville Coach Jim Stafford said. “He’s a good three-point shooter and a really good defensive player. He’s the total package, and he’ll be one of the best, if not the best, guard in our league.”
New Shiloh Christian CoachBrent Hester spent the past three years as a Saints assistant and replaces Greg White, who left to coach Springdale George Junior High.
Junior point guard David Matthews is the Saints’ most experienced player and forms a solid backcourt combo with 6-2 senior David Eichler, an outside gunner who shot 52 percent from three-point range last year. Seniors Harlin Trumbo, 6-4, and Tyler Nation, 6-3, also will contribute for Shiloh Christian.
4-4A CONFERENCE Subiaco strong
Subiaco Academy is the 4-4A Conference favorite after advancing to the quarterfinals of the state tournament last year.
The Trojans return all five starters and seven of their top eight players from a team that went 16-16 last year but finished strong.
Leading the Trojans will be senior Keon Walters and junior Michael Osepa, 6-2 post players who each averaged 15 points a game last year. Walters also averaged 9 rebounds a game while Osepa averaged 7.
Elliot Tobin, Mickell Salley and Haston Freeman are back, and sophomore point guard Marquis Walters will likely break into the lineup soon.
“We’ve got more firepower than we’re used to,” Subiaco Coach Tim Tencleve said. “They’ve got to get back that hunger and intensity they had in the stretch run last year.”
Center Jared Johnson emerged quickly last season as the main weapon for a West Fork team that went 20-7 and made it to regionals. Johnson, a 6-5 junior, averaged 12 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocked shots per game.
Cody Cone, Lee Gaesswitz and Isaac Muggy also should play more of a role this year.
“We might have a different lineup every night,” West Fork Coach David Ferrell said. “We’ll go about seven- or eight-deep.”
Dardanelle and Clarksville also figure to remain in the upper half of the 4-4A standings.
Special, Pages 89 on 11/08/2009