After winning their first district title in more than 31 years last year, the Boonville Pirates basketball team set its sights even further this season with three starters back under head coach Scott Floyd.
Along with finishing the 2014-15 season at 14-12 overall, the Pirates also finished in the middle of the pack in the NCMC.
However after a 0-3 start in the conference, the Pirates managed to win six of their next nine games to finish in a two-way tie for third with Fulton at 6-6. Boonville also put together several big wins throughout the season by handing Southern Boone its first loss by a score 60-41. Meanwhile, as the defending district champion, the Pirates won all three games by a margin of 30 ppg before losing Barstow, the Class 3 defending champion, in the sectional round of the state playoffs 84-37.
The Pirates also closed out the 2015-16 season at 19-9 for their first back-to-back winning seasons since 1999-2001 when they were 18-9 and 20-6.
In an interview with Floyd on the 2015-16 season, here is what the Pirates coach had to say:
Q: What’s your thoughts on the 2015-16?
A: I thought it was an outstanding season. To win and a second consecutive district title I thought the kids played hard all throughout the year. We had a very close team. The team was as close as I have ever coached. They bonded well, they got along well and I think that went a long way in the success that they had.
Q: What is your thoughts on the conference this season as a whole? Do you feel like there was a lot of parity or was it similar to last year where you had an upperhalf and a lower half?
A: I think you had three divisions. You had an upper-third, where Kirksville and Moberly were both 11-1. We were in the second tier at 6-6 with Fulton and then you had Marshall, Mexico and Hannibal at the bottom tier, but our conference is so tough. We were 6-6 and I am happy as can be with that just because it’s so tough. I expected Kirksville to do well. They are a very good team and senior dominated. Moberly, however, was the surprise. I figured they would not be as good as they were.
Q: Boonville finished 6-6 in the NCMC and tied for third. What are your thoughts on how the Pirates fared in the conference this season?
A: We started out 0-3 so to win six out of our last nine games I thought was outstanding because we had our backs against to the wall. We stood at 0-3 but I thought to myself that we were a better team than that and we got on a little bit of a roll. We swept two teams and split with Mexico and Fulton.
Q: Looking back to the season, what would you say was the highlight of the season?
A: First of all winning the Centralia Tournament we beat a ranked team in Salisbury at the time by 15 so we won that tournament. I would say the second highlight would be avenging the loss to Southern Boone and beating them at Mizzou Arena and not necessarily so much the atmosphere but the fact that we beat a ranked opponent and they were undefeated at the time and they were a very good basketball team. Obviously the third highlight and perhaps the best is the district championship. That is what we aim for and that’s our goal for each year to win a district championship. We did it and I thought we did it in convincing fashion. We average beating our opponents by over 30 points a game. Going in I would have never guessed that but we dominated and did very well.
Q: What was the low point of the season?
A: For the most part we were very consistent. I will name two, though. The 0-3 start in conference was tough. Looking back on it we played three of the better teams in the conference. Mexico is a hard place to play at and then we had Fulton and Moberly, who are two very, very good teams, so the start in conference was disappointing but the fact that we rebounded made it that much better. I would also single out the game at California. That was our fourth game in seven days and we were coming off such an emotional high beating Southern Boone. We just weren’t ready to play that game.”
Q: What did you feel like the team exceeded above and beyond with this season?
A: I think defensive we were a lot better this year. We only gave up 55 ppg and that’s the lowest its been the last six years. The fact that we held three opponents in the 20s (Eldon, North Callaway and Warsaw) says a lot.
Q: What did you feel like the team struggled with this season?
A: I am not necessarily disappointed but I think one area of improvement we can make toward next year is our three-point shooting can be a lot better. I figured we would put more up on our opponents. Our opponent shot more and hit more three-pointers than we did and the gap there was large. We’ve got good shooters on the team that can hit those so I think we need to be more consistent from the three-point line.
Q: Do you feel like there was a stretch where the team played well?
A: I think it was our district run. Like I said before I would have never guessed we would win each game by an average of 30 points. However, the kids were playing hard, they were playing together and they were very unselfish. It just went well.
Q: Do you feel like there was a stretch where the team struggled?
A: It wasn’t a consecutive game but it was the three conference losses. We just could not get our footing. I don’t fee like we had our identity yet because we were going back and forth between Class 3 and our Class 4 opponents in our conference so I don’t think our identity was developed yet but once we got it after those losses things became better.
Q: With two starters back next year, what does the 2016-17 season look like?
A: I am excited. I think we will have a competitive basketball team and its much like we faced going into last year. We lost some guys but I felt like the kids stepping in to replace the people that we lost were energetic and energy guys and I feel the same way here. We are losing Tavy, Jady and Bryce. They are going to be tough to replace, make no doubt about that, but you are looking at people like Avery Reardon, who can step in. He is a great defensive presence. He works hard so we can replace that energy and we have other guys that are in the program that will do that. I feel confident. And then of course I think Riley and Alec will just continue to get better.
Q: What do you feel like the team has to do to take the next step.
A: We are learning how to win. We expect to have a winning record now. We expect to win our district. Now we have to take the next step and expect to advance in the state playoffs. It’s a process but we just have to continue to learn that next step of the way.
Q: What are your plans this summer?
A: We are just going to continue to do what we have done in the past: skill development, play a few games and just try and get the kids in the gym and participate. It’s no secret but the number of people that are attending and the attendance rate is a lot higher and that coincides with the fact that we are winning more games.”
Q: As two-time district champs, do you feel like this team keeps making strides each year?
A: I don’t think the expectations will be as high next year but I think we should expect to have a winning record now and maybe to get in that 15-16 game win range and perhaps go from there.
(19-9 overall, 6-6 NCMC
Mexico 72, Boonville 64
Boonville 64, Centralia 46
Boonville 72, North Callaway 26
Boonville 84, Hallsville 65
Boonville 60, Salisbury 45
Boonville 57, Eldon 22
Fulton 60, Boonville 47
Moberly 65, Boonville 52
Boonville 80, Highland 50
Boonville 63, Fulton 59
Boonville 67, Marshall 46
Boonville 76, Fatima 61
Boonville 79, California 68
Southern Boone 56, Boonville 52
Boonville 68, Hannibal 67
Kirksville 83, Boonville 54
Boonville 60, Southern Boone 41
California 59, Boonville 44
Boonville 84, Mexico 76
Kirksville 72, Boonville 52
Boonville 66, Versailles 51
Boonville 69, Hannibal 55
Boonville 53, Marshall 50
Moberly 80, Boonville 64
Boonville 60, Warsaw 22
Boonville 72, Holden 44
Boonville 76, Sherwood 51
Barstow 84, Boonville 37