Led by four-time starting point guard Gabe Cash, the North Callaway boys will look to defend its Eastern Missouri Conference basketball title while having their eyes set on acquiring a district championship this 2019-2020 season.
The Thunderbirds had another successful campaign under head coach Matt Miller, who enters his fourth year at the helm, as they finished with a 20-7 overall record and went 9-1 in the EMO conference.
“A big highlight for us a year ago is that we won 20 games and finished as conference championships in the same season. Neither of that has ever happened in 20 years at North Callaway,” Miller said.
Winning basketball programs and the name Miller seemingly are synonymous at North Callaway High School in Kingdom City.
That's because in his six years of coaching Thunderbirds basketball, including three years as the girls head coach before transitioning to the boys program, Miller's teams has not experienced a losing record as he has compiled a 102-57 overall record.
After dropping their first two games of the season a year ago, the Thunderbirds reeled off 10 straight wins and carried on to celebrate a successful campaign.
“We are excited to defend our EMO conference championship, but know it won’t be easy as our conference will be pretty balanced this year from top to bottom,” said coach Miller, who has Zeth Lavy, Joey Mueller and Tanner Smith serving as his assistants.
Cash will have owned the point guard position all four years of high school and is coming off a junior season in which he averaged 11 points and three assists per outing en route to earning all-EMO honors.
His junior brother Cody (6 ppg, 2.5 apg, 2 steals) returns to accompany him at the guard position while the other returning starter is junior forward Tanner Taylor (2 ppg, 2 rpg).
Other projected varsity starters are senior guard Cody Lee and junior forward Noah Scogum. Look for junior post players Brandon Hill and Will Jeffries, along with senior guard Austin DéTienne to come off the bench and garner significant playing minutes.
“Our guards are not very big but are extremely quick and productive. We have size and length from our post position this year and have four posts that we will rotate in and out,” coach Miller said. “Our top eight players are all seniors or juniors, and six of them lettered last year on varsity so we have experience.”
The Thunderbirds first take flight on its new campaign Dec.3 when North Callaway hosts Centralia, and six days later coach Miller returns the favor when his team participates in the Centralia Invitational held Dec. 9-14.
North Callaway also competes in the Gary Filbert Classic held Dec. 21 at Mexico High School, and their next door neighbor in Mokane at the South Callaway Tournament come Jan. 14-18.
“As far as districts. we hope to put ourselves in a position throughout the season to be seeded in the top half and then see what happens when we get there,” added Miller.
Come late February, the Thunderbirds will compete in the MSHSAA Class 3 District 8 tournament at a site to be determined. Joining them at this venue are Bowling Green, Christian of O'Fallon, Hermann, Lutheran St. Charles, Montgomery County, Winfield and Wright City.