With 2021 officially in the books and area basketball teams nearing the halfway point of their seasons, it’s a good time to take inventory of where everyone currently stands as they head into the 2022 portion of the season.
The Camdenton Lakers have had a difficult go of things to this point in the season, sporting a 1-8 record after going 0-2 in last week’s Blue and Gold Tournament and their lone victory coming against a team from Arkansas during their time competing in the Willard Basketball Classic at the beginning of December.
Though at first glance their record may suggest otherwise, the Lakers have been competitive in most of their games, often taking the lead early on or at least managing to stay within striking distance of their opponent. The problem for Camdenton has been finishing strong and putting together a full four quarters of consistent basketball. They have shown the ability to be a solid team but they have not been able to do so for an entire game, especially when it gets late in games. The lack of consistency is likely the primary reason for their lackluster record thus far but consistency is something that can be improved. With plenty of basketball left to play in the season, coach Craig Campbell’s relatively young team will have ample time and opportunity to gain valuable experience to eventually play with the consistency they need to be a great basketball team.
Sitting at 6-4 and despite their recent 1-2 performance in the Pink and White Lady Classic, the Lady Lakers experienced a great deal of success in 2021. Prior to last week’s tournament, Camdenton held a 5-2 record, with their only losses coming against Blair Oaks in their season opener and the other against Little Rock Central in the championship game of the Great 8 Tournament.
The Lady Lakers have proven themselves capable of going up against talented opponents and coming out on top, most clearly illustrated by their late, 68-65 win over a Helias team that is currently 9-5 this year. In the six games they have won so far, Camdenton has an average margin of victory of nearly 16 points, a testament to their outstanding play on both offense and defense. In no game was this more evident than in their 37-point blowout of the Osage Lady Indians, a game that was made all the more notable for Camdenton’s Payton Kincaid scoring her 1,000th career point. Kincaid continues to be the offensive core of the team, but Camdenton owes much of its success to their balanced offensive that gets regular substantial contributions from players like Mya Hulett, Charlotte Kurtz, and Elle Turner, to name a few.
Moving forward, the Lady Lakers will need to make the appropriate adjustments depending on their opponent, but for the most part they are in excellent shape as 2022 begins.
At 5-3, the Indians would appear to be having a nice season, but not necessarily doing as well as they would like to. Though they would surely like to improve on their record, Osage has many positives to look to as their season progresses.
Aside from their first loss of the year, a 75-41 drubbing at the hands of a 9-1 Blair Oaks team, Osage has not lost a game by more than five points and has an average margin of victory of 14.4 points in their five wins. The close nature of their losses and the wide margins they typically enjoy in their wins is a result of the focus the Indians put on strong, tenacious defense, and an up-tempo offense that can score considerable amounts of points thanks in part to their effective three-point shooting abilities. When the Indians win, they usually get a large portion of their points from three-pointers, and when they fail to get their three-point shots to fall, they typically lose.
When it comes to three-point shooting, Alton Drace and Grant Steen are the two players for Osage who do the most and they do it well, both averaging around 30 percent for the year from beyond the arc. In the Indians’ wins, Drace and Steen are a combined 24-73 from three-point range, good for a 32.8 three-point shooting percentage, but in their team’s losses they are a mere 8-42, dropping their shooting percentage to 19 percent. This is not to say that either of these players are the sole reason for whether or not Osage wins or loses, rather that when their opponent does an effective job of limiting their three-point chances, the Indians often have a more difficult time winning games.
Although it might seem like Osage lives and dies by the three-pointer, that’s not the case as they are also highly capable of scoring inside and on the break, which is shown by their narrow losses even when they have trouble scoring from long range. Regardless of how they get their points, the Indians have been a very solid team and are poised for a strong 2022.
Of all the teams, the Lady Indians are likely the most eager to turn the page and go for a fresh start in 2022. Currently the owners of a 2-8 record, the Lady Indians did not have many positives on the court in 2021. Although they have shown promising signs in many of their games, they have not been able to consistently play that way over multiple quarters. They were able to do so in their two wins, but with an average margin of defeat of 35.5 points in their eight losses, it’s evident that they are not where they would like to be in terms of consistent play.
Osage’s 2021 schedule featured only two home games and a number of tough teams, with only one of their losses coming against a team that is not currently above .500. The rest of the teams they lost to so far all have winning records, including St. Elizabeth and Southern Boone who are both now 8-1. This year, however, the Lady Indians will get a bit of a break when they resume play. Two of their next three opponents currently have losing records and they can also look forward to playing more games at home, including hosting a tournament in late January.