The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


December 6, 2013

Seneca's Smith makes quick change from football to basketball

If Chance Smith had wanted to take a break, Seneca basketball coach Will King would have understood.     

After all, Smith had just finished a long football season in which the Indians finished as the Class 3 runner-up.

“I gave those guys options,” King said. “I actually told them they could take the whole week off and start next  week. But Chance is such a competitor, he wanted to get out there.”

You can say that again.

Smith caught five passes for 62 yards and a touchdown during Seneca’s 50-28 loss to Maryville in the Class 3 state championship football game on Saturday at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

By Sunday, Smith was in Seneca gymnasium practicing with the basketball team.

On Monday night, Smith was in the starting lineup and scored 12 points in a 64-52 victory against Carthage during the first round of the Carthage Invitational.

“This is my senior year, and basketball has already been a major part of my life,” Smith said. “I just wanted to get right back into it. It also helps get rid of that loss feeling from the state title game.”

Smith, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound wide receiver, finished his senior football season with 46 catches for 799 yards and eight touchdowns. As a defensive back, Smith recorded 54 tackles with three interceptions and 14 pass deflections. He was a unanimous first-team all-Big 8 wide receiver and a second-team defensive back.

He also has been a key contributor for Seneca’s basketball team. That fact made his quick transition easier.

“We had a real light practice Sunday,” King said. “Of course, he’s played all four years for us, so he knows the system pretty well.”

However, Smith did show some rust at times.

“We laughed at him at one point in practice,” King said. “He had a wide open layup in practice and missed the layup. We all razzed him about it.”

During Seneca’s first two games of the Carthage Invitational, Smith was anything but the butt of jokes.

After scoring 12 during Monday’s victory, Smith added 15 points during Seneca’s 62-59 semifinal loss to Rogers Heritage.

“He had a great game Monday night,” King said. “He did a lot of great things (Wednesday) night, too. It’s nothing surprising in my view. He’s a great athlete.”

Smith isn’t the only football player making the transition to varsity basketball. Senior Mac Yust played limited minutes Wednesday, and sophomore Brent Hill played some Monday but sat with a knee injury Wednesday.

With a veteran group that includes seniors Bradley Jumper, Tyrell Hembree and Seth Harris, the Indians have high expectations.

“We always want to win our championships — conference and then work our way up,” Smith said. “We want to work on our fundamentals a lot and perfect those.”

Don’t expect Smith to take any breaks until then.

“I’m going to be in the gym working hard every day,” Smith said. “Since I’m a little bit behind these other guys, I’m going to be the first one in the gym and the last one out.”

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