Last year saw the Collins-Maxwell boys’ basketball team take a step in the right direction.
In 2019-2020 the Spartans plan on taking a big leap forward thanks to a dynamic trio.
Center/forward Brett Livesay, forward/guard Mason Markley and point guard John Kasper are ready to make Collins-Maxwell a player in the Iowa Star Conference South Division this season. Their performances last season are a big reason why the Spartans bring back the most production of any team in the Iowa Star Conference South Division.
“We haven’t had this before,” Stover said. “It is nice. We’ll just see how they come together.”
Livesay, Markley and Kasper combined to average 34.7 of Collins-Maxwell’s 46 points per game last season. They each possess unique talents that will make the Spartans tough to stop this season.
Standing at 6-6 Livesay averaged a double-double last year at 14.9 points and 11.1 rebounds per game. He will draw a lot of attention from opposing defenses again this winter.
“I’m pretty excited,” Livesay said. “When the double team, someone else is open. It really helps because it opens up the offense even more.”
Stover wants Livesay to take his game to another level this season.
“We’re hoping Brett comes in with a more complete game,” Stover said. “He was one of the better rebounders in the state last season. Now I want him to expand his game a little bit on offense.”
Kasper followed in 2017-2018 leading scorer Carter Fricke’s footsteps to become the team leader on the floor last season. He averaged 9.9 points and 4.0 assists and was especially strong down the stretch.
“The first year Carter Fricke helped me and the second year Stover said it’s your team now,” Kasper said. “At first I was kind of skeptical. But then I realized midway through the season nobody’s taking it on so I had to become the general on the floor.”
Getting to the line is a big strength of Kasper’s. He led the team with 106 free-throw attempts last year and shot 70 percent.
“Free throws have been a big emphasis with the coaches,” Kasper said. “They want me be the free-throw shooter on the team.”
Kasper had surgery to repair broken bones in both his feet over the summer. He was able to finish the football season and is ready to go on the court.
Markley also came on down the final stretch last year. He was the team’s top 3-point shooter, making 49 and averaging 10 points as a sophomore.
“I didn’t think I was going to be able to shoot that many 3s,” Markley said. “Brett being on the inside and being able to pass it out to me, I got a lot of opportunities.”
A growth spurt makes Markley even more dangerous this season. He’s pushing 6-4 and Stover wants him to take advantage of that height this year.
“I’ve been working on 3s, but I’ve also had a lot of people tell me you need to drive in and stop hanging out at the 3-point line,” Markley said. “Since I’ve grown a lot taller they want me to work in the post a lot more.”
He also wants to get one over on the only taller person on the team.
“I definitely want to dunk in a game before Brett does,” Markley joked.
With three proven go-to guys Collins-Maxwell has a great foundation to build around at the start of the season. Now it’s just a matter of getting everyone else to establish their roles on the team.
“One of the things we’re looking for this year is more points,” Sover said. “There are a few guys we need to start getting in the score chart a little bit more.”
Seniors Kadin Bennett, Daniel Klein, Ben Hofer and Simon McKinney and sophomore Wes Stover will be counted on to step up this year. Bennett averaged 4.7 rebounds and Hofer 5.8 points last season.
If the Spartans can put all the pieces together they expect to turn a lot of heads this season.
“In the past couple of years we’ve had no experience and so we’ve been able to use a lot of excuses,” Stover said. “This year our motto is no more excuses. The expectations are higher.”
Collins-Maxwell opens the season Dec. 3 at home against Colo-NESCO.