Tiger boys look to reverse last season’s form

Friday, December 1, 2017

Fort Scott High School’s boys were picked to finish in sixth place in the Southeast Kansas League after finishing seventh last season. That could be based on the depth of the league, which is expected to be a dogfight among those schools other than defending champion Pittsburg, but also that the Tigers return most of the same players from last year’s 6-16 season.

However, many of the returning players were also members of a 2017 Tiger football team that improved from three wins to eight and made it two rounds into the Class 4A-Division I playoffs, losing only to teams that advanced as far or farther than they did in their class’ playoffs. Based on that, there’s no reason not to consider a similar reversal of form from the basketball team.

“Last season was a tough one as far as the win-loss record goes,” Fort Scott head coach Jeff DeLaTorre said. “But we played a lot of young guys who benefited from the experience and have come back improved and hungry for success.”

Thirty-four players are out for the team, which includes three seniors, seven juniors and 18 freshmen. Among the returning eight letterwinners are guards Jesse Jones (6’ 0”, Sr.) and Jessie Lawrence (5’ 11”, Sr.), each of whom were starters last season. Jones was an All-SEK Second Team pick and earned Honorable Mention All-State status after averaging 13.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists last season. Lawrence, who signed a letter of intent with Fort Scott Community College on Tuesday, averaged 8.6 points, 4 rebounds and 3.6 assists. Alec Michaud, a 5’ 10’ junior, averaged almost 6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists. All three are likely starters as DeLaTorre goes with a three-guard offense. Carter Goldston (6’ 0”, Jr.) and C.J. Horton (6’ 4”, Soph.) will also see time at the guard positions.

“We have experienced guards who played a lot of minutes last season,” DeLaTorre says. “I think that is always a major advantage when you have solid guard play and we feel like we have several guys that can help lead our team.

“We will also have more size this season, and we feel our big guys are also very athletic and will be able to do some things that will frustrate our opponents on both ends of the floor.”

Jordan Hall (6’ 2”, Jr.) and Matt Campbell (6’ 5”, Jr.) were at least part-time starters at the forward positions last season. Horton can also play on the front line as can Nick Larwence (6’ 5”, Jr.) and Luke Martin (6’ 3”, Sr.).

DeLaTorre looks for the size and athleticism his team should enjoy to aid the Tigers on the defensive end.

“We have put an emphasis in practice on improving on the defensive end,” he said. “Our size and athleticism will allow us to do some different things defensively so we have been working hard on stopping people and causing more turnovers, which will allow us to use our defense to create some transition offense.”

Many of the players didn’t get much of a break after the football team advanced to Sectionals. Three days after that game, those who played on the gridiron reported to begin their work on the hardwood, missing only the first day of practice so they could get a bit more rest.

“This group of kids has worked hard to start the season,” DeLaTorre said. “They are a great bunch of kids and are going to be a fun group to work with. I think they will be fun to watch and will represent our school and community very well.”

The season begins Thursday with the first game in the annual Willard (Mo.) Tri-State Classic. The Tigers face Bentonville (Ark.) West Thursday, host Willard Friday, and Harrison (Ark.) on Saturday.