Last season's record: 17-10
Last season's SCAA record 6-1
Advance should be in store for a very good season.
The Hornets, under the direction of coach Andrew Halford, return eight players from last year's team that went 17-10 and 6-1 in SCAA play.
Ethan Barr and Lane Below are two starters that return after solid seasons in 2011-12 campaign. Both players garnered all-conference and all-district honors, while Below added an all-region post-season award. Barr, a senior, and Below, a junior, where both selected to the SCAA all-tournament team in 2012.
"We have a lot of experience coming back from last year," Halford commented. "The boy's are working hard and showing improvement every day.
"Our conference should be tough just like every other year," Halford added. "There is a lot of talent in the area schools, and it should create some very interesting and competitive match ups."
Advance finished third at last season's SCAA tournament and second in Class 2, District 3 where they lost to Oran. Dexter was the only school to beat Advance during SCAA regular-season play a year ago.
Advance is one of four Class 2 teams in the SCAA. The Hornets will compete in the post season in District 3, which is slated to be held at Bismarck High School.
Last season's record: 3-20
Last season's SCAA record: 0-7
The Bell City Cubs have found it hard to break out from the bottom tier of teams in the SCAA in recent years. But with a new coach and three returning starters, things could be looking up for the Cubs in the 2012-13 season.
Bell City, one of the two smallest SCAA school, will be led on the sideline by first year coach Steve Wells. Wells will be looking to improve on a 3-20 record last season that also included an 0-7 record in league play.
"The kids are working hard on getting better and eliminating mistakes that hurt this team a year ago," Wells commented. "They are fun to coach, very coachable and enthusiastic. They see that through hard work and discipline they can improve as players and therefore the team will improve."
Wells will be depending on three returning starters to help the Cubs move up the standings in the SCAA.
Jerad Yates and McKenzie Vires return for their senior season while the third returning starter will be junior Aaron Smith.
Wells come to Bell City with SCAA experience after coaching at Puxico, so he is very familiar with the league's competitiveness.
"From coaching in the SCAA (Puxico) I know the league is a very strong, physical league," Wells noted. "The teams are well coached and play with passion. I look forward to Bell City playing with the same passion and intensity as our league schools and adding more depth and strength to an already deep, talented league."
Bell City, along with Richland, are the SCAA's only Class 1 schools. The Cubs will compete for post season honors in District 2 along with the Rebels. The Class 1, District 2 tournament will be played at Sikeston.
Last season's record: 17-11
Last season's SCAA record: 4-3
With the high standards of success set at Bernie in recent years, last season's 17-11 (4-3 in SCAA play) campaign was a disappointment. But on that same note, last year's Mules jayvee team lost just one game (against Sikeston) and will provide this season's varsity team with an abundant supply of junior talent and depth.
"I think we've got a pretty solid nucleus coming back," Bernie coach Bard Botsch commented. "We return all of our scoring and these guys have worked extremely hard so far and I think we have a chance to be really solid.
" We're going to have a lot of juniors," Botsch continued. "We've got the chance to play 10 or 11 kids, but I don't think we'll play that many. But it's good to have some extra depth.
"We've got BJ Jennings who is going to be a real solid scorer for us. He's a junior. Bubby Schwent will play a lot. Jake Wagner will play. Brandon Humphries and JR Pregel are great defenders and will provide some depth. Bradley Freed is coming along as well. He can shoot it. And Troy Kirkpatrick is known for shooting from the perimeter."
That talented group of juniors alone would be formidable on their own. But when you throw a few seniors in the mix, you can see why Botsch is optimistic.
"And our seniors," Botsch added. "Our three seniors, are going to be real solid. David Baker I think is going to have an outstanding year. He's put on probably 10 pounds of muscle, and really become more athletic, strong. Sam Turner has gotten stronger. I think he is going to have a real good year. Landon Woods is also rounded into form and I think he is going to have a real solid year."
While there is cause to be optimistic, Botsch is hesitant to level to much praise on his players just yet.
"I think it's tough to see where you are just yet, because you are just playing against yourself," he said. "So I would kind of like to see us hold off on judgment about this group just yet, depending upon on how we play.
"But so far practices have been good," he noted. "I think we've got a real solid core of players that want to have a real good season. We're in a really tough district (Class 2, District 1). There is probably five or six teams that could win that thing. It's going to be very, very competitive. We're going to have to work hard get better to be able to come out to there because it sure it going to be tough."
Bernie district will be played at Bloomfield the next two years, and Botsch noted that if his teams plays every night of SCAA and Christmas tournaments, both played at Bloomfield, his team would play 10 games at Bloomfield which is two more than the eight home games on the Mules' schedule.
And your thoughts on the SCAA?
"Well, I think Advance has got everybody back," Botsch stated. "They've got a ton of size. They are a Class 2 foe and they are going to be very solid in their district as well. They are in district 3. They are going to be really tough.
"Dexter always competes well in the county," Botsch added. "I think they have won it two of the last three years. Bloomfield always puts a solid team on the floor. Puxico could make some noise as well. It's pretty balanced. You've got to come to play every night."
Last season 's record: 13-14
Last season's SCAA record: 4-3
Bloomfield will have a new look this season and will play in a new district as the Wildcats prepare for their opener.
"I really like this team we have this year," coach Jason Karnes commented. "It's a lot different team than what we have had the past couple of years. We won't have the size we have had the past few years, but hopefully we can make up for that lack of size with some quickness and athleticism. Offensively we will be a much different team, and the boys have done a good job in adapting to a new style of play."
The Wildcats finished 13-14 overall last season and 4-3 in SCAA play. Bloomfield will move down to Class 2 this season where the Wildcats will enjoy playing at home as they will host the District 1 tournament.
Only Brett Ruch (guard, 9 ppg last season) returns as a full time starter, while Thomas Sanders (guard, 4 ppg) will give Karnes a little more experience after starting part time last year.
And your thoughts on the SCAA?
"I think our conference year in and year out is one of the most competitive conferences in this area, and I don't think that will change this year," Karnes stated. "It will be very competitive from top to bottom, and you will have to be ready to play every night you have a conference game."
Last season's record: 13-13
Last season's SCAA record: 4-2
Dexter made it two SCAA tournament titles in the past three years last season, but injuries could derail the Bearcats' efforts this time around. Two of Dexter's three returning starters will be out when the season opens. Junior Cody Neldon is out for the season after knee surgery, while all-conference guard Chase Young is out with a broken leg. Young, a senior, is expected back this season.
With those two players down, coach Rob Nichols will be looking to inexperienced players to step up and fill the void.
Returning starter Brad Potts (6'2 forward) returns for his senior season, while junior DJ Dowdy (5'9 guard) is back after seeing an increased role with the team as the season progressed last year.
Seniors Ryan Joyner (6'1 forward) and Jonathan Paige (6'2 forward) will be key players if the Bearcats are to be successful this season.
Dexter has some talented younger players (sophomores and freshmen) so don't be surprised if they play a more active role at the varsity level as the season progresses.
Last season's record: 16-9
Last season's SCAA record: 4-4
Puxico has lingered in the bottom half of the SCAA for the past few years, but 2012 could be a break-out season for the Indians.
Puxico finished 16-9 overall and 4-4 in SCAA play, including a big road win over Bernie, last year.
The Indians returns four starters from last season and with the addition of some younger players, first-year coach John Walker thinks this could be the year his teams moves into the upper tier of SCAA teams.
Returning starters for the Indians are seniors Jacob Plunkett and Josh Harp, along with juniors Garrett Payne and Tim Hancock.
Plunkett was the team's leading scorer and was an all-conference and all-district selection
"I am also moving up Zack Tucker, a 6'4 sophomore, and Austin Teichman, who is a 6'1 junior, is returning to the team," Walker stated.
"We look to be very quick this year and are improving every practice on defense," Walker added. "We had a solid summer which seems to be carrying over into the season. I truly believe we should be in the top three in the conference this year."
Puxico will compete in Class 2, District 2 this season. That district will be contested at Van Buren.
Richland has the only true big man in the SCAA in 6'11 Richard Forshee.
Forshee has been a force in the paint for the Rebels since his freshman season. Last season he was named to the SCAA all-tournament team.
Coach Matt Cline will be looking for players to compliment the inside play of Forshee as the season opens. Teams have been able to double and triple team Forshee in the past so the Rebels will be looking for other offensive options to open things up for their big man in the middle.
To utilize Forshee in the paint, the Rebels will be looking to be more deliberate on offense, unless the fast break opportunity presents itself.
Richland will compete in Class 1, District 1 along with SCAA foe Bell City. That district will be held at Sikeston this season.
Last season's record: 7-16
Last season's SCAA record: 2-6
First-year Woodland coach Ron Garnett will have four returning starters from last season to work with in the 2012-13 season.
Aaron Yount, Codey Miles and Dylan Miller all return for their senior seasons while the fourth returning starter is junior Tyler Yount.
Garnett is still becoming familiar with his new team, but he likes the progress he has seen so far.
"It's my first season with the group," Garnett said. "They are working hard learning a new system and we look forward to making improvements from last year."
Woodland has dwelled in the bottom half of the SCAA in recent years, but this could be the year the Cardinals make some noise.
"The SCAA Conference is one of the most competitive and physical conferences around and we are eager to get right in the middle of it," Garnett said. "The teams are well coached and the athletes love the game and competition from year to year."
Woodland is the second largest school in the SCAA behind Dexter. The Cardinals will compete in Class 3, District 2, which will be played at Park Hills.