By Tiffany L. Rehbein
The Big Sandy Pioneers (0-2 overall) boast one senior and a smattering of juniors on the young 1999-2000 squad.
Justin Yirsa, the 5-foot-11 senior who plays like a 6-footer, is the only returning player from last year's team that finished 6-15 on the season.
"They have a good attitude and they have been working hard," said first-year head coach Jim Ray about his team. "This will definitely be another rebuilding year for us."
The Pioneers lost six players to graduation and one player to transfer.
Juniors Daniel Weaver, Jackson Burke, Billy Pierce, and Aaron Myers are four players who are working to fill the vacated positions.
Sophomore Nathan Bratz, and freshmen Chris Yirsa, Calenn Hepner, Chris Ayers, and 6-foot-2 Matthew Myers round out the roster.
The Pioneers have only 14 kids on both the varsity and junior varsity.
"We don't even really have the numbers to press," Ray said. "We are just going to try to play some good defense, and control the ball, and move the ball and get to the open person."
Justin Yirsa will play tough on the rebounds inside for Big Sandy, while Burke and Myers might work the perimeter.
Myers tallied 13 in the opening-season 44-30 loss to Augusta. Burke notched 15 points in the 64-46 loss to power Winifred.
Weaver, an all-around standout player, sat out more than half of last season. He started during the opening weekend games, but is still not 100 percent.
The Pioneers will host Blue Sky on Thursday, Dec. 16. Friday and Saturday, Big Sandy will play at Joplin and at Dodson before the Christmas break.
"With our numbers, we are going to have a full weekend," Ray said.