Pictured is the Holcomb Hornets high school boys basketball program.
Holcomb finished the 2011-12 season with a record of 23-6 and placed second in Class 2, District 1.
Holcomb has improved its record at the varsity level every season under sixth-year head coach Seth McBroom. Holcomb went 2-20 during the 2007-08 season, 2-16 in the 2008-09 season, notched its first winning-season in nine years when it went 12-11 during the 2009-10 campaign, finished 18-9 in the 2011-12 season and won the Tri-County Tournament for the first time in 12 years during its 23-6 campaign last season.
"We graduated three pretty good players last season," Holcomb coach Seth McBroom said. "But we've still got guys we expect will step up. It should be a good challenge for our younger guys and I think they are ready to get started. We should have more depth this season."
The Hornets currently have seven seniors, two juniors and three sophomores on its varsity roster.
"We've got four guys who saw substantial minutes or started at some time last year," McBroom said. "They are Jamie Massey, Michael Glover, James Vance and Ryan Reeves."
"We've got three more who received playing time," McBroom continued. "They are Chase Davis, Tyler Lewis and Cameron Clark."
Holcomb, which added traditional juggernaut Portageville to its schedule last season, has added another traditional powerhouse to its schedule this season. The Hornets are slated to host Scott County Central on Feb. 1. Scott County Central has won the Class 1 state title the last four seasons.
"We are trying to strengthen our schedule because our district is so brutal," McBroom said. "That's really the only thought behind adding the new teams. Any team that is good is going to make us better for the district and our goal is to get to the district championship game."
Holcomb has received the No. 2 seed in the opening-season 8-team Campbell Invitational Tournament. Holcomb will open the season on Nov. 27 at 6 p.m. when it plays No. 7 seeded East Prairie in the quarterfinals of the tournament.
"I think we are ready to play an opponent," McBroom said. "We've been beating the tar out of each other and I think we are tired of beating up on each other. We've had some days where I didn't think the focus was where it needed to be and other days where I thought we looked like a team that was ready to play."
Holcomb will once again compete in the 9-team Tri-County Conference with Delta C-7, Southland, Risco, Campbell, Clarkton, Gideon, Cooter and North Pemiscot. Holcomb defeated Risco in the Tri-County Conference Tournament championship game last season.
"It's always fun," McBroom said of the Tri-County Conference. "It's a fun league to be in and it's always competitive. I tell people all the time 'these smaller schools in the Tri-County have a lot of pride.' When you come in their house they don't want to lose. It's always a dog fight whether you are supposed to win it or not. That's what made winning it last year so special."
Another highlight of Holcomb's schedule will be its appearance in the 16-team Bloomfield Christmas Tournament for a third straight season.
"It's just another thing we've done to our schedule to improve it and we are very thankful to be in that tournament," McBroom said. "As far as the atmosphere goes it remains the best I've seen of any tournament. It helps prepare you to play in big games."
Holcomb's path to its first district title in boys basketball since 1998 is unlikely to be a cakewalk. The Hornets will compete in Class 2, District 1, at Bloomfield with Cooter, Bernie, Bloomfield, Hayti, South Pemiscot, Senath-Hornersville, Portageville and Campbell.
The winner of Class 2, District 1, has represented the southeast Missouri region at the final four three of the last four seasons. Three of the teams in the district - Hayti, Bernie and Portageville - have made final four appearances at least once in the last five seasons.
"It's just brutal," McBroom said of the district. "There won't be an easy game in that district. It's going to be a fight. The team that is playing good that week will win it."
McBroom hopes the support from the community will once again be unprecedented.
"We want to encourage everyone to come out and support the kids," McBroom said. "It is a good group of kids that work hard and carry themselves the right way."