For much of last season the St. James High School boys’ basketball team was the Four Rivers Conference version of The Team That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.

Indeed, the main source of problems for the Tigers during a 11-14 2007-08 campaign was a lack of offense.


For much of last season the St. James High School boys’ basketball team was the Four Rivers Conference version of The Team That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.
Indeed, the main source of problems for the Tigers during a 11-14 2007-08 campaign was a lack of offense.
After logging a large amount of hours during the off-season, St. James head coach Ben Smith feels his squad is much improved on the offensive end of the floor.
The Tigers are scheduled to open their season Dec. 1-6 in the round-robin Potosi Tournament.
“I’m pleased where we are so far,” Smith said. “We look stronger inside than we have in a long time. And I think one of our strengths is that our post players are good shooters, and can spread a team’s defense out.”
After losing just one starter to graduation the Tigers return a veteran squad. Five varsity lettermen – including four starters – are back to lead the way.
Starters back include 5-8 senior Kaleb Stowers, 6-4 senior Chris Kearbey, 6-3 junior Jon Connell and 6-2 junior Chase Ford.
Another lettermen back is 5-10 sophomore Zach Lindemann.
Patric Luebbert, a 6-0 senior, will eventually be in the Tiger rotation but is expected to miss the Potosi Tourney with illness. Also expected to be a varsity contributor is 6-2 junior Ryan Roberts.
Kearbey, one of the conference’s top three-point threats, averaged 11.6 points and 4.2 rebounds last season while Ford averaged 10.0 points and 2.0 steals and Connell shot 50 percent from the field, averaging 9.0 points and 5.3 boards.
“Right now I feel like this team has the potential to be the best offensive team I’ve coached,” Smith said. “Whether we can translate that in games...we’ll find out. But I don’t think we’ll have to rely on our defense as much this year.
“We’ve got potentially four or five kids who can get you 15 points on any give night. And we have a couple of kids who can get in the high 20s occasionally. This group has been really unselfish, which is something I’m really happy with right now.”
And Smith says the preseason has shown some pleasant surprises.
“I didn’t think we’d be able to get out and put on any defensive pressure,” Smith said of his thoughts prior to practice beginning. “But now I think we’ll be able to create some turnovers with defensive pressure.”
Smith said the Tigers performed well in last Saturday’s annual Tiger Scrimmage. “I thought we played pretty well,” he said. “You’re always wary of that because you’re playing against the jayvee. We have a lot of things to work on, but I was pleased overall.”
Smith says Sullivan will be the favorite in the Four Rivers Conference race.
In the annual Four Rivers Conference preseason coaches poll Sullivan was picked No. 1, Pacific No. 2, Owensville No. 3, Hermann No. 4, St. James No. 5, Union No. 6, New Haven No. 7 and St. Clair No. 8.
St. Clair was the conference champion last season but had heavy graduation losses.
“I think the teams up top are pretty good,” Smith said. “Sullivan and Pacific return everybody. “But I don’t think anybody is going to go undefeated in the conference this season; I’d be surprised.”

Potosi Tourney
St. James has been seeded No. 4 in the two-bracket, round-robin Potosi Tourney.
Sullivan is seeded No. 1 while Kennett is seeded No. 2, North County No. 3, St. James No. 4, Potosi No. 5 and Fredericktown No. 6.
On Tuesday, Dec. 2 St. James opens against Potosi at 7 p.m. and then will play conference rival Sullivan at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 3.
The tournament’s fifth-place game is slated for Friday, Dec. 5 while the third-place and championship games are set for Saturday, Dec. 6.
Here is the St. James boys’ basketball 2008-09 schedule:

Varsity/Junior Varsity
Dec. 1-6..............Potosi Tourney, tba
Dec. 1-6..New Haven JV Tourn., tba
Dec. 9........................at Rolla, 6 p.m.
Dec. 16.....................Sullivan, 6 p.m.
Dec. 19............at Owensville, 6 p.m.
Dec. 22....................at Potosi, 6 p.m.
Jan. 6...........................Dixon, 6 p.m.
Jan. 8.......................Lebanon, 6 p.m.
Jan. 10...Linn Shootout, vs. Eldon, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 12.......................at Cuba, 6 p.m.
Jan. 13....................Steelville, 6 p.m.
Jan. 16........................at Linn, 6 p.m.
Jan. 19-24......St. James Tourney, tba
Jan. 26-31......Hermann Tourney, tba
Feb. 3....................at Licking, 6 p.m.
Feb. 6........................St. Clair, 6 p.m.
Feb. 10............at New Haven, 6 p.m.
Feb. 13................at Hermann, 6 p.m.
Feb. 17........................Pacific, 6 p.m.
Feb. 20.........................Union, 6 p.m.