As the Barstow postgame press conference came to a close Saturday night at Mizzou Arena, nearly 20 minutes after the Knights hoisted the Missouri Class 3 boys state championship trophy, the line of questioning shifted from the past toward the future.
The Knights had just secured their first state title since 1995 — and only the second in school history — but a reporter wanted to know if they were equipped to do it again. And quickly. How about next season?
Barstow High School coach Billy Thomas didn’t hesitate in providing an answer.
“Why not?” he responded.
The Knights will certainly be considered one of the favorites after plowing their way through the state playoffs. Barstow capped its impressive postseason run with a 61-46 win against Strafford in the championship game on Saturday. Barstow finished its season 29-2, with all but two victories coming by double digits.
And here’s the reasoning for Thomas’ optimism: The bulk of that dominant team will return again next year.
Among the Knights’ four scorers who averaged double figures this season — forward Jeriah Horne (18.9 points per game), point guard Jacob Gilyard (14.9), forward Shea Rush (12.5) and shooting guard Tripp Walsworth (11.1) — none are seniors.
“Let’s come back and do it again next year,” said Horne, who had 19 points in the championship game. “Once you soak in everything, you want to come back and do it again.”
A year after settling for second place in the state tournament, the Knights finished the 2014-15 season with 19 straight wins and the first-place trophy.
They breezed through Class 3 opponents and won all seven playoff games by double digits, totaling an average margin of victory of 22.4 points per game.
“We told ourselves that we proved to ourselves and everyone else (last year) that we were good enough to get there (to the state championship),” Thomas said. “So the offseason was spent on being good enough to win.”