By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer
CARL JUNCTION, Mo. —
Kyle Williams held his first team meeting Monday afternoon as boys head basketball coach at Carl Junction.
Williams, head coach at Lamar the past two seasons, succeeded Ryan Odaffer, who accepted the position of assistant principal at the Intermediate School.
“This is great. It puts me and my wife in the same district,” said Williams, whose wife, Morgan, is a teacher at the Intermediate School. “This is a place we can call home and establish ourselves.”
Williams, originally from Baxter Springs, Kan., was a graduate assistant at Wichita State and was head coach for two years at West Elk, Kan. He guided Lamar to a 17-12 record last season along with Lamar’s first district championship in seven years.
“We have one goal and that’s to win a district championship,” Williams said. “The tools are in place to do that here. With the exception of Webb City, we probably have the best backcourt in the area.”
Carl Junction’s returnees next season include point guard Travis Vogt, who will be a senior, and guard Matt Magee, who will be a junior.
Athletic Director Jesse Wall said several factors made Williams a good fit with Carl Junction’s athletic program.
“Kyle has a great background and experience,” Wall said. “He is a high-intensity individual who we want in that position
“Any time you go out and hire someone, you want someone who’s vested in the community. We want someone who can push our program to compete at the district and state levels. He’s a very good combination for us.”
Odaffer compiled a 45-58 record in four years as head coach and improved Carl Junction’s victory total each season. He previously was an assistant coach for five years under Eric Johnson at Webb City.
Carl Junction went undefeated in the Big 8 Conference two years ago and shared the conference championship with Mount Vernon and Seneca last season.
“I was fortunate enough to be interviewed and have the opportunity to be an assistant principal,” Odaffer said. “It’s going to be a lot different from what I’ve been doing, but new and different is exciting to me.
“I’m going to miss the relationships I’ve had with our coaches and athletes. What’s nice is I’ll be able to go to the games and help coach Williams in any way I can.
“We’ll have our two leading scorers and leading rebounder back, so there’s a lot of firepower,” he said. “There are a lot of good kids coming in junior high, so it’s a good situation to be in. That makes me feel better about my decision, too.”
Williams said he spoke with the players about his expectations during the offseason and what they can expect once next season begins.
“We’re going to put in the hours and the work to accomplish something the community can be proud of,” Williams said. “The eighth grade class is really talented and they’re going to be freshmen. Coach Odaffer did an excellent job with this group. The things we’ll run will play to the strengths of our top players.”