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West Plains, Mo. (For  — Despite losing several key seniors from a squad that went 15-13 overall and finished 3-6 in the Ozark Conference last season, the West Plains Zizzers have an exciting crop of juniors arriving on the scene.

Two players, point guard Zach Flippin and forward Justin Davis were key contributors for the varsity last season, but the remainder of the squad will be competing at the varsity level for the first time.

There won’t be much in the way of senior leadership this season for head coach Kevin Smith, but West Plains has plenty of talent on the rise, especially in the Zizzers’ junior class.

Flippin and Davis will be joined by a host of juniors, most of whom will be getting their feet wet at the varsity level for the first time.

“We are going to be inexperienced, but we aren’t going to be half bad,” Smith said. “Our sophomores and juniors are pretty good players. We’ll be sophomore and junior dominated on the varsity.

“I don’t know how many sophomores will play up, but several will get some time.”

Junior Cameron Butler, who sat out his sophomore season, will team with Davis to form a solid 1-2 punch on the wings for Smith. Both players are athletic and can shoot from the outside.

“(Davis) spent a lot of time working on his game and he is a good player,” Smith said. “He is really starting to take the ball to the basket. He is an excellent 3-point shooter, but now he can mix it up so you have to guard him a little different.”

In the paint, West Plains will be looking to Matt Wernsing, as well as sophomores Zak Adkisson, Chase Riley and Gerard Dietrich, and junior Ransom Nichols.

Flippin, a 5-foot-10, 160-pound junior, returns with two years of experience starting at the point already under his belt. A talented ball handler with terrific court vision, Flippin spent much of the summer playing AAU basketball for the Missouri Flight.

“I look for a big year for (Flippin),” Smith said. “He really played well this summer. I think he is going to really come full circle.

“He kind of took off and I think he going to be a fun player.”

Both Flippin and Davis will make it difficult to steal a lead away from West Plains late in the game as both players are nails at the free throw line. Flippin shot 83-percent last season, while Davis shot 79-percent.

Dusty Harrill, 5-foot-9, is the Zizzers’ only returning senior with extensive varsity experience. Harrill can run the point and was among the team’s best outside shooters last season.

Also in the mix is 5-foot-10 senior Jacob Womack who will likely spell Flippin at the point.

Varsity newcomers in the backcourt are Ian Washington, a 5-foot-9 junior, and Trey Cooper, a 5-foot-11 sophomore.

While talented, Smith cautioned that a lot of the Zizzers’ success this season hings on getting young players experience at the varsity level. West Plains will have to survive a tough December schedule, then will compete in the Blue and Gold.

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