SIKESTON -- As a first year coach, Frank Staples is feeling the pressure.
The pressure mounting against him isn't one of a program pushing him for another state title. It's self-imposed.
Knowing and experiencing the championship run the Scott County Central Braves have been on of late as an assistant has Staples wanting to keep their string of titles flowing.
The Braves are coming off of their fourth-straight Class 1 state championship from a season ago after a 22-10 record.
"There's always a lot of pressure," said Staples, who served as an assistant coach for the Braves for the last three years. "I think I put more pressure on myself than anybody else ever could. Everybody has been really supportive so there's not a lot of pressure in a negative sense. There's always pressure to want to keep going with what's been going the last few years."
Replacing Kenyon Wright, a coach that won a state title every year he was at the helm, won't be an easy job to fill, but the Braves are far from being out of the loop when it comes to state championship potential.
Junior Larandis Banks, who was Scott Central's third leading scorer last year at 14 ppg, and senior Jaylen Porter will be looked upon to replace departing seniors Dominique Porter and Lamarcus Steward's input from a season ago.
Porter led the region with 24.5 points per game and also grabbed 7.4 rebounds as well. Steward emerged as another dominant scoring threat averaging 14.9 and 5.7 assists per game.
Along with Banks and Jaylen Porter, Staples will also count on seniors Tyler Masters and Chris Brown and well as junior Kendall Blissett.
"We have a lot of guys coming back," Staples said. "There's a lot of guys that have been working hard and are going to contribute. The beat kind of goes on. The kids grow up playing and when the time comes, there's always somebody ready to step in."
And if need be, promising freshman Jeffery Porter, younger brother of famous alumni Otto Porter, Jr., could eat up some varsity minutes as the only underclassman on a roster filled with six seniors and 10 juniors.
"We're going to take that a day at a time," Staples said about Jeffery Porter. "We don't want to put a lot of pressure on him and we want to let him develop. We're not in a hurry to push anything, but he's got all the potential to be a special player. He's got such a good head on his shoulders and such good ability. We're ready to see how that plays out and if it works out that's he needs to be on varsity, eventually he may be there."
NEW MADRID -- With a combination of old and new, the New Madrid County Central Eagles may raise an eyebrow or two.
The Eagles feature an explosive point guard and size in the paint which could be good enough for them to contest for an always difficult district title at the end of the regular season.
"You want to say the whole season is preseason to get to districts," New Madrid County Central head coach Travis Day said. "If we can mature as the season goes along I'd like to see our chances once districts come along."
NMCC will look to improve on their 8-16 record from a season ago following a first round loss to Caruthersville in the Class 3, District 1 tournament.
At only a sophomore, Willie Jimmerson is expected to be one of the Eagles' go-to players.
"He's going to be a good player for us," Day said about Jimmerson. "We just need him to keep improving and maturing for us."
Jimmerson, who had extensive playing time as a freshman last year, headlines a group of younger players Day will look to utilize more this season.
Fellow sophomores Mikeal Walker (5-9), TJ Clark (5-9) and Asten Newsom (6-2) will play key roles along with Day's more experienced players such as Jashawn McDaniel, Devon Harrell and Armondo Thatch.
"We'll count on some of those younger guys a bit more," said Day. "Guys like Mikeal and TJ, they know their role is not to be scoring, but to hound people on defense. Asten Newsom, he knows he's going to have to box out and rebound. We have potential with this group."
Mixed with his younger core, Day feels he has a good balance between experienced and youth. Especially with his seniors looking more to win, rather than make headlines, according to Day.
"Our seniors are not worrying about being stars," Day said. "When you have seniors that don't worry about the show and want to just win and play hard, we like where we can get. They just want to win."
RISCO -- After winning a third consecutive Class 1, District 1 championship, the Risco Tigers will look for fresh faces to replace a group of seniors that had come to help define Tiger basketball.
Gone after a year where they helped Risco to a No. 1 ranking in Class 1 during the regular season before making another trip to sectionals, is the trio of Chris Pavy, Luke Bixler and Fowler.
While losing that amount of talent leaves big holes to fill, Risco head coach Brandon Blankenship is optimistic his team has the talent to once again contend for a district title.
"Between the senior trio of Chris Pavy, Luke Bixler, and Jeremey Fowler we graduated 50 points per game," Blanksenship said. "With that being said this is not a rebuilding year for us. We have quite a bit of experience returning with Austin White, Hunter Knight, and Jordon Pavy. This trio has been a huge part of our success over the past two years."
White is the leading returning scorer for the Tigers and is a three-year varsity starter. He averaged 12 points and five rebounds per game last season and earned all-district and all-conference honorable mentions.
Knight, also a senior, led the team in rebounds last season with 5.7 per game and contributed 4.6 points per game.
Junior Jordon Pavy comes back after averaging 10.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game last year as did senior Matt Cumins, who contributed 3.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game.
Moving up from the jayvee will be the team's leading scorer Brandon Bixler and Josh Earnheart. Brandon Bixler, a junior, saw plenty of varsity minutes in the playoffs last season and made the all-conference junior varsity team.
Other newcomers include Shown Eakens and Eric Bennett while senior Caleb McCord makes his return after an injury only allowed him to play nine games last season.
"Seniors Caleb McCord, Matt Cumins, and Josh Earnheart will be big contributors to this team and will help give us strong guard play which has been our staple for the last several years."
Risco starts its season on Monday at the Campbell Invitational Tournament.
CHAFFEE -- Coming off a 16-12 season, the Chaffee Red Devils will look to plenty of new faces to fill out a young roster.
Gone after his senior season is last year's leading scorer Alex Crowe along with Jordan Yahn and Alex Davie.
Returning veterans include Peyton Montgomery, Layton Tenkhoff, Charlie Montgomery and Cody Johnson.
Newcomers to the varsity are Jimmy Golden, Tyler Golden, Storm Estes, and D.J. White. Jared Walker, Trevor Morehead and Lane Henson will also join the varsity roster.
"We have a very deep team with quite a bit of talent," Chaffee head coach Josh Govreau said. "We don't have a lot of size but we have a lot of speed. We are young as far as varsity experience goes, but this is a great group of kids that has a lot of potential. If they continue to work hard and grow together as a team I think we have a high ceiling."
SCOTT CITY -- After claiming the Class 3, District 3 championship last season, the Scott City Rams enter the upcoming season looking to replace leading scorer Zach Cotner.
Cotner averaged 19 points and eight rebounds a game to help guide the Rams to a 20-9 record.
Returners to the varsity roster include seniors Jesse Sanders, Ryan Brock, Jonathan McFall, Nick Bollinger and junior Eric Urhahn. Newcomers will be junior Dominic Hooper and freshmen Trent Pobst and Isiah Berry.
"We will compete every game, which will give us a chance to win," Scott City head coach Mark Dannenmueller said.
The Rams open their season on Monday in the Woodland Tournament.
DEXTER -- Already tasked with replacing their two leading scorers from last season, things didn't get any easier for the Dexter Bearcats when two of their returning veterans went down with injuries.
"This is by far the most inexperienced team I've had," Dexter head coach Rob Nichols said. "Coming into the season we'd expect to have three starters back and a couple kids that started at different points in the year.
"But right now one (Cody Neldon) is out with a year-ending knee injury and another one, Chase Young, we can hopefully get back in the next few weeks but is out with a fractured fibula."
The loss of Neldon and Young gives the Bearcats only two players, Brad Potts and DJ Dowdy, who saw significant varsity minutes last season.
Even with a healthy roster Dexter would be faced with finding an answer for the loss of Tyler Miller and Jake Lee, who were both selected as members of the Southeast Missouri Sportswriters All-Region Basketball second team.
While the trio of Young, Dowdy and Potts gives Dexter something to build on, Nichols hopes to see some new faces step up and fill some needs.
"Chase has got a lot of experience and of course DJ and Brad have got some experience," Nichols said. "Other than that we just don't have any experience right now."
Making up for a slow start Dexter came on late to finish with a 13-13 record last season with their final loss coming in the opening round of the Class 4, District 1 tournament against Fredericktown.
Dexter opens the season Tuesday when they host Charleston with junior varsity action starting at 6 p.m.
Stuffed with seniority and varsity experience, the Portageville Bulldogs may be primed for a district title run.
Portageville finished with a 19-6 record last season and saw their year end after falling to Hayti, the state's defending third place team in Class 2, during their district tournament.
The Bulldogs, coached by Jason Irby, return nine seniors -- all with varsity experience.
Senior Dominique Walker headlines the veteran group after leading Portageville with 18 points, six rebounds, four steals and three assists per game last season.
"We may not have height, but we have good average size boys that will work their heart out," Irby told the Portageville Missourian-News. "We have a lot of speed and quickness. We feel like we have good depth this season."
Fellow seniors Dion Walker, Denzell Simmons, Robert Anderson, Anfernee Garmon, Daniel Allen, Julian Nolen, Cody Carpenter and Ian Brown round up the rest of Irby's senior brigade.
Juniors Caleb Gooch, A.V. Banks, Ben Story and Landon Nolen round up the rest of the team.
Portageville's first game with be Dec. 4 against Cooter at home.