NORRIS CITY-OMAHA-ENFIELD
BY JACK BULLOCK
If the scoreboard operator at Norris City-Omaha-Enfield got carpal tunnel from clicking the home team points last season, no one could deny his workman's comp claim.

The Fighting Cardinals put up a lot of points.

Head coach Evan Wyllie saw his team launch a lot of shots from all over the floor and they set several school records in scoring.

Running a less conventional offense and a pressing defense was a lot of fun to watch.

They knocked down a record 16 3-point shots in a game against Fairfield on the road last season.

However there is a down side to this style of play and it was apparent when it comes to the defensive end of the floor.

The Fairfield game was an 86-78 loss. Many loses occurred despite the scoreboard being lit up like a Christmas tree at times.

While they did score a lot, so did the opposition.

Coach Wyllie's club ended up 7-18 overall, 3-4 in the GEC and were eliminated at the Wayne City 1A Regional by Webber Township.

Many of the points from last season are now missing via graduation and these Cardinals will have a new look to them when the season begins at the Christopher Thanksgiving Tournament the first week of the season.

Gone is Matt Long, a senior from a year ago with a robust 24.4 points per game average.

Add the names Cooper Wells (16.6 p.p.g.), Trenton Verble and Ben Taylor to the list of graduates.

But there are talented kids back for another fast breaking season for Coach Wylie.

One starter, 6-foot senior Jeb Baumgart, is back.

NCOE also has four other players who saw some varsity time on the floor in 2016-17.

Five-foot-nine senior Evan Healy, 6-foot-2 junior Brandon Skaggs, 6-foot junior Colton O'Neal and 5-foot-10 sophomore Trey Simmons all have time spent with good behavior from last season's fun.

Coach Wyllie is rightfully excited about the season as his newcomers will push for time.

When teams that play this sort of style, they need a lot of kids to provide a deep bench.

This mentor plans on going deep into the reserves to keep fresh legs on the team.

So his youngsters will need to be ready and according to this coach, he has a good group to step forward.

A pair of juniors, 5-foot-10 Houston Money and 5-foot-9 Jaden Barton will be called upon.

Coach Wylie also is very optimistic about his incoming freshman class who were successful last season as eighth graders.

Ty Money, a 5-foot-8 freshman, 5-foot-10 Jack Riggs, 5-foot-10 CJ Richardson and 6-foot-4 Joe Melton should all suit up for the Fighting Cardinals this season.

“Last season was an up and down year for us. We were in a lot of close games that did not go our way. However, we play an exciting style that requires full court pressure defense and a lot of 3 point attempts with quick substitutions,” said Coach Wylie. “I am excited about our incoming freshmen class. They won over 20-games last year as 8th graders and are going to be looked upon early to contribute. Even though we lost 70 percent of our scoring from a year ago, I feel like we will have added depth to our roster. We have 10-11 guys who can play on any given night with great shooting ability. I think we can surprise some people this year. We will look to our returners from last year to carry the load early, but our younger guys are very talented as well.”

OUTLOOK – The Fighting Cardinals picked up some quality wins last season, one of them was an upset win over Carrier Mills in the opening round of the GEC Tournament last January. This team, like last year, will be able to score a lot of points. But the won-loss record can be explained by the problems on the other end of the floor. Despite forcing a lot of turnovers last year, NCOE didn't do as well in the half-court defensively. If that issued can be addressed this season, NCOE could win a lot more games than it did a year ago.

2017-18 VARSITY SCHEDULE
N20-25 Christopher Thanksgiving Tournament J12 Carrier Mills-Stonefort

N28

@ Marion Crab Orchard J13 @ Grayville
D1 Thompsonville J16 @ Junction Gallatin County
D5 Carmi-White County J22-27 GEC Tournament @ SIC
D12 @ Galatia J30 Galatia
D15 @ Elizabethtown Hardin County F6 @ Cisne
D19 Wayne City F9 Marion Crab Orchard
D26-28 Eldorado Holiday Tournament F13 @ Carrier Mills-Stonefort
J6 McLeansboro Hamilton County F16 @ Thompsonville
J9 Golconda Pope County F19-23 IHSA Regional TBD