With its top four leading scorers from last year’s 15-7 team returning for their senior seasons, there is plenty of excitement around the Shawnee Heights program.
Shawnee Heights, ranked sixth in the preseason KBCA 5A poll, returns point guard Trey Brown, forward Poncho Freeman, and wings Michael Brooks and Jesse Moss in addition to other key players.
“The energy in practice has been the best in the four years that I have been here,” Moss said. “We’re really competing, bringing a lot of guys back, and you know you have a chance to really do something special.”
Shawnee Heights begins its season Friday at home against KC Turner.
“We’ve got to come out and take care of business,” Moss said. “We had a good first showing last season. I think we shot 50 percent from the floor that night so we just have to come out with the same intensity that we did in last year’s season opener.”
Moss, who recently picked up an offer from Fort Scott CC, averaged 6.2 points and made 28 3-pointers as a junior. He is looking to help Shawnee Heights return to the state tournament after the T-Birds made an appearance in 2015—their first since 2002.
“My excitement level is at an all-time high because we’re feeding off our season last year and we know we were two points away from going to the state tournament—that’s definitely a goal for us this year,” Moss said. “The excitement of getting the season started is unreal.”
Moss played with SSA Elite and the Kansas Cagers in the summer and has been working hard to become a more complete player.
“I think I’ve done a lot better in getting to the basket because a lot of people are going to close out hard on me this season so I’ve got to be able to get in the lane, make passes, and try to get to the free-throw line too,” Moss said.
Last season was a bit of transition for a number of players in larger roles under first-year head coach Steve Wallace, but with a year of experience they will be looking to build on what they did a year ago.
“Our roles really haven’t changed much, but we’re doing more within those roles,” Moss said. “For example I’m going to have to be a shooter and a defender, and Trey has to play defense too because we know defense and rebounding is something we have to do.”
Brown is a Missouri State signee who helps set the tone for the team on both ends of the floor.
“Having someone like Trey on your team helps out so much,” Moss said. “He brings energy on offense and defense, and myself and the rest of the guys on the team feed off of that.”
Freeman returns after averaging 15.9 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 1.8 assists last season.
“Poncho is great,” Moss said. “He’s unstoppable. Poncho is a threat outside, inside, on defense, and he’s grown a ton with his shooting in his four years he’s been there. It’s just hard to guard the man.”