Southwest Trojans gaining steam

Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Southwest senior Blake Barnes attempts to drive around a Monett defender during the Trojans' 63-60 win over Monett. Jared Lankford/

Roe's leadership a key to success

In recent years, the Southwest Trojans have been blessed with good basketball talent and coaches. Not only have fans appreciated the hard work and effort on the court, other school districts did as well by snatching the coaches away.

Over the last three seasons, the Trojans (8-11) have had three different coaches. Two years ago, Neosho plucked Jason Horn from Southwest and his replacement, Jess Ross, was coaxed back to his roots in Arkansas after last season.

Trojan Brad Daniels attempts a shot over Monett's Zack Hammond during Friday night's win over the Cubs. Southwest hosts Purdy on Friday. Jared Lankford/

This past offseason, Trojan administration persuaded Rusty Roe, a 2000 graduate of Southwest, to leave his position at Wheaton to come back home.

"My wife and I prayed about the move and felt that the Lord wanted us to come back to the community," Roe said. "I loved what I was doing at Wheaton, and the choice to leave was difficult, but I believe it was for the best."

Roe knew what he was inheriting in Washburn, a very young and inexperienced team. Three of Southwest's top six players had no basketball experience at all, and adding in the fact he is the third coach in three years, the hill Roe had to climb got a little taller.

"These boys learned a lot of good things from their past coaches," Roe said. "I have had to keep telling myself to be patient with them as they learn my style. The good thing about these players is they are eager to learn."

Step by step and practice by practice, the Trojans got better with each day. Yet, Southwest was still lacking a signature win after a solid four-quarter effort.

Roe got his wish with a 63-60 win over Monett on Friday. The Trojans displayed the grit and moxie that were a staple of his teams in Wheaton.

"This was our best win of the season," said Blake Barnes, junior guard. "We played as a team and didn't get rattled in the clutch period. A win like this really increases team spirit and morale."

Barnes was a one-man wrecking crew against the Cubs, scoring 19 first-half points and finishing with 25 in the game.

Senior center Seth Delossantos, who scored 7 points, noted that Roe's teaching has had a huge impact on his game.

"I had never played basketball before this season," he said. "I didn't know how to rebound or play on a team. Coach Roe worked with me and has made me a 100 percent better player. The biggest thing he has taught me is how to stay calm and under control."

Roe's first task was to teach his players discipline.

"We had to work with the boys on defining their roles," Roe said. "There was no team chemistry."

Against the Cubs, Roe watched his team grow.

With the game in doubt in the final two minutes, Monett was able to tie the score with a drive that split two Trojan defenders.

Roe called a timeout and discussed the situation with his squad. On the Cubs' next possession, Southwest's double-team held firm and created an off-balanced shot that resulted in a defensive rebound.

"That was a step forward tonight," Roe said. "[Learning this style] won't happen overnight, but we are getting there."

The Trojans hosts Purdy on Friday night. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.

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