Just a couple weeks ago, Neosho named a new head girls basketball coach.
Now, it’s a new head boys basketball coach.
Both are Neosho High graduates and both served as Neosho assistant coaches before getting their chance to take on the head coaching reins.
The girls hired Matt Hixson and the boys named Zane Culp.
Culp graduated from Neosho High in 2011 and he takes over for Tony Branscum, who guided the Wildcats for two seasons. Branscum left to become the East Newton athletic director. Culp marks Neosho’s third coach in four seasons.
In Branscum’s two seasons at the helm, Neosho logged a 20-33 overall record with a 6-20 record last season following up Neosho’s first winning season (14-13) since 2009-10. (Culp played on that ’09-10 team which included Corey Crandall, Marcus Middleton, Michael Lowe, and Alex Wise.)
The Wildcats graduated two players from last season, lone seniors Brady Wise and Yeej Lee. Wise became one of the top offensive threats his senior campaign and he recently signed with NJCAA Division I Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, a program which made the national tournament only a couple years ago.
Last season’s Wildcats featured heavily juniors in A.C. Marion, Cade Cradduck, Cole Seward, and Kaden King, as well as sophomore Sam Cook. Fellow sophomores Kaden Dickens and Mason Gammons also had their varsity moments and junior Sean Moran contributed on the inside.
Notably, Marion produced 14 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, as he made a transition from the perimeter to the interior. As with most of his teammates, Marion faced height and size disadvantages in virtually every game. Marion scored in double-digits in 21 of 26 games and grabbed at least 10 rebounds on nine different occasions with a season-high 22 points against Cassville and Webb City and a season-high 15 rebounds against Memphis Middle College.
Seward, a transfer from Class 3 Diamond, made the adjustment to playing bigger schools and being an undersized guard in the world of the COC, producing 8.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.7 steals per game. Seward made clutch shots for two of Neosho’s six wins on the season — a 17-foot fadeaway jumper at the buzzer against Memphis Sheffield in the Neosho Holiday Classic and a driving layup late against Willard, the latter moment which spurred on a storming of the court by the raucous Neosho student section.
King and Cradduck also made numerous starts during their junior seasons.