“You never have enough guards,” the legendary Charlie Spoonhour once told this reporter when I asked the iconic and hugely successful Southwest Missouri State University basketball coach why he was recruiting so many players at that position.
“Guards run the game and will help a team win much more often than not,” was Spoon’s rationale enhancing his philosophic approach to coaching.
And never was that idea more accurately manifested by the play of Springfield Kickapoo in winning the only state title for southwest Missouri among the larger class schools.
The precise play, not to mention the hustle, of Brookshire, Haney and Liggins was nothing short of superb in augmenting the contributions of Brazile, Lowery and Doenning in the Chiefs’ wins over Chaminade and Liberty. Both of the Kickapoo victims featured high scoring standouts, 6’10” power post Tarris Reed II for Chaminade and 6’5” Bennett Stirtz a shooting guard for Liberty. Each led his team in scoring, Reed with 27 points for the St. Louis based Red Devils and Stirtz with 28 for the Blue Jays from the Kansas City area.
Kickapoo’s attack was far more diverse with four players scoring in double figures in each of the state championship tests, a 71-53 pounding of Chaminade and a dominant 71-62 whipping of Liberty in the Class 6 Missouri Championship game itself.
Actually, southwest Missouri made itself known in the state wide hoops world during the past two weeks. Hartville, the epitome of team play in every respect, captured for the Eagles their second straight Missouri crown while finishing the season undefeated at 31-0.
Kickapoo and Hartville were the Missouri champions. However, the girls teams from West Plains was a runner-up in Class 5. As was the Liberators boys team from Bolivar, the Lady Mountaineers from Mt. Vernon and the Lady Tigers from Skyline. Third place honors were won by the Lady Chiefs from Kickapoo, the former state champs, the Lady Tigers from Walnut Grove, the Norwood Pirates and the Blue Eye Lady Bulldogs.