The 2019-20 Scotland County boys basketball program will feature a new look, from top to bottom as Coach Jeremy Austin will take over for the departed Kyle Ellison leading a Tiger team that doesn’t return a single starter.
Coach Jeremy Austin knew he had his work cut out for him after last season when he agreed to come back closer to home and take the reins of the Scotland County boys basketball program.
After 12 years at Trenton, Austin agreed to the move to Memphis, bringing his family back closer to his roots in northeast Missouri, where his father, John, won more than 800 games in a 30 year career as the coach at Wyaconda, earning him a 2003 induction into the Missouri Coaches Hall of Fame.
Austin knew his first year at Scotland County was going to be a challenge, after the team graduated seven seniors. The outlook took another hit when the new coach lost his only two players with real varsity experience when senior Parker Triplett was lost for the year due to a football-related knee injury, and junior Kaden Anders elected not to play.
The huge exodus has created a leadership void for the young squad that Austin will have to fill as the season progresses. The Tigers, 6-16 last season, were led by senior Will Fromm, who earned first team all conference honors despite SCR-I going 0-7 in Lewis and Clark Conference play.
Coach Austin will also have to replace starting point guard Jared Dunn, the team’s second leading scorer as well as Matthew Woods, Jace Morrow, Brock Durflinger, Caleb Parkins and Jacob McDaniel.
With the loss of Anders and Triplett, the 2019-20 Tigers will now feature an entirely new starting lineup.
After a two-year hiatus from the sport, Jacob Buford has returned to basketball for his senior season. As the lone senior on the roster, Buford will likely see key minutes at the guard position.
Another key newcomer could be transfer Xavier Lucas. The forward averaged six points and five rebounds per game as a freshman starter at Bucklin.
Sophomore Corbyn Spurgeon likely will take over at the point guard position with junior Carson Harrison filling one of the other open starter roles along with sophomore Alex Long.
Junior Kade Richmond will likely figure into the rotation as well after earning some varsity experience a season ago. Sophomores Hayden Long and Kabe Hamlin, junior Hunter Carter and freshman Owen Triplett will give coach Austin plenty of options as well.
Despite having just one senior out, the program has a 20-man roster which bodes well for the future as Coach Austin works to build his program.
The depth will lend its self to the new coach’s plans to try to play up-tempo basketball, relying on defensive pressure to create easy scoring opportunities.
It should be another wide open season in the Lewis and Clark Conference with a number of rebuilding programs.
Last year’s league champions, Westran, will bring back seniors David Dale and Trey Burton but will have to replace first team all-conference forward Ben Miller.
The same will be the case for Fayette, which was state ranked much of the year and posted the best record overall among league members at 18-6. They will have to replace first team Vince Roberts as well as Isaiah Estes, but will return second team all conference performers Kyle Schleeter and Cale Poslon.
Salisbury and Harrisburg may be in the best position to overtake the top spots in the league. The Panthers return first teamer Jackson King while the Bulldogs were led last year by all-league freshmen Tanner Lanes and Jace Carr.
Paris actually finished second in the league standings at 6-2 a season ago but will have to replace first teamer Adam Forrest.
Knox County, Marceline, and Schuyler County will all be looking to move up in the standings along with the youthful Tigers.
SCR-I will kick off the new season in the Tri-Rivers Classic Tournament in Queen City on December 3rd taking on Clark County at 7:30 p.m. in the Schuyler County middle school gym. They will play at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday December 5th, either at the high school or middle school against either Brookfield or Knox County.