TIGERS: Inexperienced players will play major roles
For the Houston High School boys basketball team to have a successful 2022-2023 season, several newcomers are going to have to do some big things.
“We’ve got good kids and they work hard,” said head coach Jim Moore, “but we’re just young. Our core is freshmen and sophomores, and we’re going to have a chance to grow a lot.”
Last season, the Tigers finished with an overall record of 6-17 and went 1-5 in South Central Association conference games. Moore is entering his third year leading the squad and 24th coaching high school hoops (including four with the HHS girls). He will be joined on the sidelines this season by first-year assistant coach Rodney Preheim.
The Tigers’ largely inexperienced lineup includes only four upperclassmen: Seniors Harold Lassiter (who is also the only player on the roster who started games on a regular basis last season) and Sammy Nance, and juniors Brady Brookshire and Stone Jackson.
“I think our work ethic is a strength,” Moore said. “The guys are doing what I’m asking; we’re learning how to get on the floor for loose balls and we’re learning how to guard. But I think something we need to improve on is execution. That’s probably because we’re so young, but for us to be successful, we’re going to have to be able to run an offense, set screens and set our man up to come off of those screens, and we’re going to have to have our hands ready to catch the ball and finish whenever we get the opportunity.”
Moore said there are several athletic underclassmen competing for starting spots.
“It’s a process,” he said. “They’re learning what the expectations are for them and what they have to do to find time on the floor.”
Offensively, the Tigers will go up-tempo when they can, but also rely on half-court sets.
“We going to be strategic about when we run,” Moore said. “We’ll push the ball and see if we can’t get some easy layups, but we’ve got to learn to be disciplined enough to pull it back out and get into our sets.
“That goes back to execution; we have to be disciplined and know when to get into our offense and then execute it so we can get the shots we want.”
On defense, the Tigers will likely go man-to-man most of the time early on in the schedule.
“Before we can play an effective zone, we have to learn to play at least a decent man-to-man,” Moore said. “We’re really stressing man-to-man fundamentals and principals. It could grow before the end of the year, but we’re going to get up and get after it at the start, and try to put as much pressure on the ball as we can.”
The Tigers will begin the campaign Tuesday (Nov. 22) at Cuba. Their first home game is set for Nov. 28 against Koshkonong.
“We didn’t have everybody come out who we wanted to come out,” Moore said, “but we can’t control that. So we’re going to control what we can, and we’re going to work together and get better together.
“But we’re going to surprise some people who think we’re not as good as we should be. That’s our goal.”
LADY TIGERS: Experienced players will lead the way
Going into the 2022-2023 season, the Houston High School girls basketball team appears to have a roster with enough experienced players to make good things happen.
The Lady Tigers will take the floor with five upperclassmen, including senior guards Aliyah Walker and Makenzi Arthur, senior forwards Olivia Crites and Karlee Curtis, and junior guard Angie Smith.
“I feel the girls are working hard, focusing on the little things and playing together as one,” said second-year head coach Lindsey Vermillion. “Our strong point will be the experience of the upperclassman and positive leadership.”
Last year, the Lady Tigers finished with an overall record of 12-13 and went 1-5 in South Central Association conference games. Now that she has a season under her belt, Vermillion (who is in her first-ever stint as a high school hoops head coach) goes into the campaign with far more knowledge of what her players can do.
“They are continuing to gel well together,” she said. “They now know what I expect of them and how I work, so it’s a smoother process I believe. Last year was difficult for me, personally, going through a major surgery, a cancer scare, all right in the middle of season. Missing two weeks was excruciating for me. So I think that threw a wrench in some things, just because it was all a shock.
“But I’m hoping for a better year for myself, personally, and I’m ready to get to work and accomplish great things with these girls.”
Vermillion expects her team to almost continuously maintain an up-tempo approach.
“We will continue to work on not relying on plays,” she said, “and always pushing the ball in transition every single chance we get, continuing to work on the ‘offensive robots’ mindset. I want them to just play basketball and read the defense. The defense will always tell you what to do and where to attack.”
This year’s HHS girls program includes about a dozen freshmen.
“They are the future,” Vermillion said, “and they are helping us tremendously.”
The Lady Tigers hosted a jamboree on Monday of this week (including Van Buren and Willow Springs) and will start their season Nov. 28 in the ninth annual Fordland Invitational tournament. The squad’s first home game is scheduled for Dec. 8 against Koshkonong.
“We will be successful if we play as one, rebound the basketball, focus on defense and push the ball in transition,” Vermillion said. “The main keys to our success will be mastering the little things, positive communication, having each other’s backs at all times and being relentless on the boards and on the defensive end. The Lady Tigers are loaded with talent and we can accomplish big things this year, but it is going to be up to the Lady Tigers, not just the coaches.
“We have a shot at being very successful this year, and I’m more than ready and blessed to be a part of it.”
2022-2023 HHS BASKETBALL ROSTERS
Nov. 22 – Cuba (V, JV), 6 p.m.
Nov. 28 – Koshkonong (V), 6 p.m.
Nov. 29 – Eminence (V, JV), 7 p.m.
Dec. 5-10 – Mansfield Invitational (V), TBA
Dec. 12-17 – Norwood JV Tournament, TBA
Dec. 16 – Plato (V, JV), 6 p.m.
Dec. 17 – Bunker Shootout (V), TBA
Dec. 20 – Licking (V, JV), 6 p.m.
Jan. 3 – Newburg (V), 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 6 – Summersville (V, JV), 6 p.m.
Jan. 10 – Norwood (V, JV), 6 p.m.
Jan. 13 – Salem (V, JV), 6 p.m.
Jan. 16-21 – Houston Tournament, TBA
Jan. 16-21 – Liberty Invitational (JV), TBA
Jan. 24 – Laquey (V, JV), 6 p.m.
Jan. 26 – Seymour (V, JV), 6 p.m.
Jan. 31 – Mountain Grove (V, JV), 6 p.m.
Feb. 3 – Thayer (V, JV), TBA
Feb. 7 – Liberty (V, JV), 6 p.m.
Feb. 10 – Cabool (V, JV), 6 p.m.
Feb. 14 – Ava (V, JV), 6 p.m.
Feb. 17 – Willow Springs (V, JV), 6 p.m.
Nov. 14 – Houston Jamboree (V), TBA
Nov. 28 – Dec. 3 – Fordland Invitational (V), TBA
Dec. 8 – Koshkonong (V), 6:30 p.m.
Dec. 16 – Norwood (V, JV), 6 p.m.
Dec. 19 – Licking (V, JV), 6 p.m.
Dec. 26-29 – Mountain Grove Holiday Tournament (V), TBA
Jan. 2 – Salem (V, JV), 6 p.m.
Jan 3 – Newburg (V), 6 p.m.
Jan. 7 – Van Buren Shootout (V), TBA
Jan. 9 – Mountain Grove (V, JV), 6 p.m.
Jan. 10-14 – Licking JV Tournament, TBA
Jan. 12 – Thayer (V, JV), 6 p.m.
Jan. 14-21 – Thayer Winter Classic (V), TBA
Jan. 23-28 – Mansfield Lady Lion Invitational (V), TBA
Jan. 30 – Liberty (V, JV), 6 p.m.
Feb. 2 – Cabool (V, JV), 6 p.m.
Feb. 6 – Hartville (V, JV), 6 p.m.
Feb. 9 – Plato (V, JV), 6 p.m.
Feb. 13 – Ava (V, JV), 6 p.m.
Feb. 16 – Willow Springs (V, JV), 6 p.m.
*Home games in bold