The best lake area athletes, teams and coaches of the winter season

The winter sports season has quickly come and gone.

It only seemed like yesterday that swimmers took their first laps in the pool, basketball teams took their first steps on the court and wrestlers hit the mat for their first matches. With another round of seasons in the lake area at their conclusion, the Lake Sun continues its tradition of taking a look back at those who made their seasons a remarkable one that will not soon be forgotten.

TOP ATHLETES:

Eldon senior Taylor Pehle

Eldon senior girls’ basketball player Taylor Pehle made a statement in her final year with the Mustangs. After putting up a respectable average of 11.2 points per game to go with 3.1 rebounds and 2.8 steals a year ago, the senior went off in 2017 increasing those totals to 23.7 points, 6.5 rebonds and 3.7 steals respectively. Her efforts earned her the Tri-County Conference’s “Most Outstanding Player” award, 1st Team All-District and their could soon be other honors to follow. Not to mention that she surpassed 1,000 career points this season on a night where she scored a career-high 45 points to help the Mustangs beat Buffalo.

Eldon junior Trenton Dillon

Eldon junior wrestler Trenton Dillon has set the bar for the Mustang wrestling program. As a sophomore, Dillon was one of the first three state qualifiers in school history and wrestled his way to the state quarterfinals. This year, the junior was on a mission and resembled a wrecking ball as the 160-pounder finished his year with a record of 54-2, became the first Mustang with 100 career wins and wrestled his way to the state title match before falling to the defending state champion. With one final season left to go, time will soon tell what mark he will make and just how high that bar will be for younger Mustangs to follow.

TOP TEAMS:

Osage Girls’ Basketball

It was a historic season for the Osage girls’ basketball team. The Indians not only set a program record for wins in a single season finishing the year at 22-7, but they also reached the “Elite 8” (state quarterfinals) for the first time in school history and put together the best season the program has ever had. When asked to reflect on the season and discuss what made this team stand out, Osage coach Scott Rowland said it was hard to pinpoint any single aspect because it was a team effort night in and night out. Indeed, that was what the Indians displayed on the court having a deadly offense with a number of consistent contributors and a stifling defense that often made opposing offenses earn every single point. Teamwork may have been of the team’s greatest strengths and a shining example for future teams to strive for.

Versailles Wrestling

Sending wrestlers to state has become commonplace at Versailles and an expectation many Tiger grapplers have at the beginning of the season. The 2017 version of Versailles was no different and one could often easily spot the traditional blonde-dyed hair of Versailles wrestlers under the lights at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. Only a year after the program sent a record nine wrestlers to state where the Tigers place fourth and medaled in the final team standings (the program’s best ever finish), Versailles claimed their second Tri-County Conference title in three years and brought seven back to state. Zach Reed, Kooper Wilson, Konner Shewmaker, Michael Trotter, Willie Schotte, Jacob Aeschbacher and Ayden Easton represented the Tigers in Columbia and it was Schotte and Trotter who brought home fifth place medals for the Tigers.

TOP COACHES:

Osage Girls’ Basketball Coach Scott Rowland

Another year has come and gone and it was another year the Osage girls’ basketball team could hang their hat on under the direction of Coach Scott Rowland. The Indians won a portion of their first Tri-County title and district title in 2015. Since that time, Osage has been to three straight district championship games taking the prize this year while reaching unchartered territory being one game away from the Final Four at Mizzou Arena. Rowland’s teams have been sound year in and year out in his 12-year tenure at Osage and the numbers back it up. According to MSHSAA records, the Indians have only had one losing season since 2008 amassing a record of 143-76 winning 65 percent of their games. With an incoming freshman class coming off back-to-back undefeated seasons, the future may be just as bright.

Eldon Wrestling Coach Ryan Bird

The young five-year Eldon wrestling program sent its first wrestlers to the state tournament a year ago and the Mustangs did not skip a beat this season in Coach Ryan Bird’s first year at the helm. Eldon put together an unforgettable season with Trenton Dillon, Dawson Brandt and Trenton Kidwell becoming the program’s first ever state medalists and the Mustangs increasing their number of state participants from three total wrestlers to five. Looking back on his final season as a Mustang, Kidwell emphasized how much it meant that Bird cared about him and his fellow grapplers and that type of family atmosphere undoubtedly yielded good results. With three of Eldon’s five state qualifiers back next season along with many other ambitious and motivated young wrestlers, it seems the program is certainly headed in a good direction under the care of Bird.

HONORABLE MENTION TOP ATHLETES

Camdenton junior Coley Rezabek

Camdenton junior girls’ basketball player Coley Rezabek was a big reason why the Lakers were competitive on a nightly basis. Seeing limited time as a sophomore, Rezabek grew into a leader this season leading the team in scoring (19.3 points per game), rebounding (6.3 rebounds per game), field goal percentage (52 percent) and free throw shooting (83 percent). With one final season to go, Rezabek will have high expectations the next time she steps on the court to help the Lakers stay in the win column.

Camdenton senior Dyllan Decker

It may not have shown up in the win and loss column, but Camdenton senior boys’ basketball player Dyllan Decker was a consistent performer night in and night out for the Laker as he paced the team in numerous categories. The senior ended his final campaign wearing the purple and gold averaging 19.3 points per game, seven rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.5 steals while shooting nearly 40 percent behind the 3-point line and 52 percent from inside the arc.

Macks Creek junior Shelby Willis

Macks Creek junior girls’ basketball player Shelby Willis also had no trouble finding the bottom of the net as she also surpassed 1,000 career points. Her timing was pretty good too because she hit the milestone on the same night that the Pirates won the Osceola Tournament championship. Willis averaged 18.5 points per contest to go with 3.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists and three steals this season and time will soon tell what she will have to offer in her senior campaign.

Macks Creek senior Austin Zollman

Macks Creek senior basketball player Austin Zollman had a year to remember as he became the latest Pirate to join the honorable list of 1,000-point scorers. Zollman’s name could often be found on the stat sheet any given night as he averaged 19.8 points per game to go with his two rebounds, two assists and two steals per contest respectively. His efforts also earned him First Team All-District honors.

Eldon junior Macie Halderman

Eldon junior girls’ basketball player Macie Halderman joined senior teammate Taylor Pehle as the next pair of Mustangs to make it to 1,000 career points and it did not take her long to do so either. Only seeing limited time as a freshman, it only took Halderman about two years to accomplish the feat and she did so on a night where Eldon needed every point it could get in a double overtime win over Battle. Halderman finished her season nearly averaging a double-double with 17.6 points and 9.1 rebounds to go with 2.6 assists and 2.1 steals, which earned herself a spot on the Tri-County All-Conference 1st team and All-District team.

Osage senior Ian Schaumburg

Osage senior wrestler Ian Schaumburg finished his career as an Indian grappler on a pretty high note. The returning state qualifier came into the season with high expectations and met many of them as he finished his year with a district title in the heavyweight class before going to the state tournament at Mizzou Arena in Columbia and walking away with a third place medal. Schaumburg’s performance at state was the best finish by an Osage wrestler since 2015 graduate Chris Johnson wrestled for a state title two years ago.

Camdenton sophomore Erin Leezer

Camdenton sophomore girls’ swimmer Erin Leezer had a pretty productive year in Camdenton’s first season in the pool. Leezer was a consistent top five finisher in numerous events with one of her top highlights being a first place finish in the Mixed 100-meter breaststroke at the Sedalia Duals on January 24. Having previous swimming experience on the local lake area Tridents swim team, Leezer will only be eager to build upon her experience and continue chopping down her times in the pool during her final two years as  Laker.

Climax Springs junior Jake Reed

It may have been a difficult season on the basketball court for Climax Springs, but that was not the case for junior Jake Reed. Reed averaged a double-double scoring 13.9 points per contest and 10 rebounds while adding 2.9 assists and 1.7 steals, which also landed him a spot on the All-District team. Time will soon tell what Reed will bring to the court with one final season to go as a Cougar.

HONORABLE MENTION TOP TEAMS

Camdenton Girls’ Basketball

After losing three major components from a senior class that helped Camdenton win its first district title in 30 years, the Camdenton girls’ basketball team did not really skip a beat and put together another successful season at 14 wins and 10 losses. The Lakers have a solid foundation of players to carry on the torch and Coach Staci Caffey’s club had no trouble getting up and down the floor and carrying on the success the program has enjoyed in recent years.

Versailles Boys’ Basketball

The future of a program can seem uncertain when a new coach steps in, but the Versailles boys’ basketball team proved to be a solid unit throughout the year. The Tigers may have finished the year at 11-14, but Coach Jason Ollison’s club was often competitive each time they stepped on the floor and three Versailles players finished the year averaging double figures in scoring. After reaching the district semifinals, the Tigers will only be hungry to take that next step and make another deep run in the postseason that the program has achieved in the past.

HONORABLE MENTION TOP COACHES

Eldon Girls’ Basketball Coach Ashley Agee

The Eldon girls’ basketball team enjoyed yet another successful season with Coach Ashley Agee at the helm. In just two seasons under her direction, Eldon has won 72 percent of their contests going 36-14 that includes a 2016 Eldon Tournament title and a 2017 Tri-County Conference championship where the Mustangs went unbeaten in conference play. Establishing some early success to build upon, time will soon tell if the Mustangs can continue to add to the list of accomplishments.

Versailles Wrestling Coach Shawn Brantley

Sending wrestlers to the state tournament has become commonplace at Versailles with Coach Shawn Brantley at the helm and that tradition remained unchanged this season. A year after putting together the best team performance at state in school history, the Tigers continued to find success capturing their second Tri-County Conference in three years and once again sending half their lineup or better to take on the best grapplers Missouri had to offer.

Macks Creek Girls’ Basketball Coach Craig Parrack

The Macks Creek girls’ basketball team enjoyed yet another winning season under Coach Craig Parrack finishing the year at 18-6. The Pirates also took home some hardware as well with a strong finish in the Osceola Tournament where Macks Creek defeated Lakeland on January 28. The tournament title was Parrack’s fifth championship in the 30-year history of the tournament. With many starters coming back next season, the future still appears to be bright as well for Parrack’s program.

Osage Boys’ Basketball Coach Kevin Schnicker

The Osage boys’ basketball team took another step in the right direction with Coach Kevin Schnicker in charge. Last season, all three levels (freshman, junior varsity and varsity) finished the year at or above .500 for the first time after a couple of rough seasons. This season, the varsity club improved upon their record finishing the year at 14-11 with an appearance in the district semifinals. Schnicker often emphasized to his players the many life lessons the game of basketball had to offer and there were a number of different contributors the team could rely on any given night. With many of those players coming back next year, this team could very well continue moving in the right direction.