Alex Oserowsky is the only returning starter for the boys basketball team at Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School.

That’s a dandy player with which to start, according to Cavalier coach Cleo Elbert.

Oserowsky, a 6-foot-3 junior, averaged 13 points and nine rebounds last season as the Cavaliers finished 25-2 overall, tied Washburn Southwest for the Ozark 7 Conference title at 11-1 and reached the second round in Class 1.

The Cavaliers have two more lettermen in 6-0 junior Jake Hockman and 6-9 sophomore Justin Brown.

“Alex is more of a complete player,” Elbert said. “He can play any position we need him to play. He worked hard on his game this past summer. He’s stronger, too.

“It’s hard to say what our keys for success are because we have so many unknowns or unproven faces on the team,” Elbert said. “Obviously, we must stay healthy, work hard and play hard. Eight players — six seniors and two transfers — are missing from last season.

“Weaknesses could be guard play, quickness and overall inexperience,” Elbert said. “Strengths should be size and Alex (Oserowsky).

“We’ll have to have players step up and contribute when the heat (emphasis and special defenses) has been placed on Oserowsky,” Elbert said. “Justin (Brown) has improved a lot since last season.

“We’re trying to find chemistry and an offense which will work with the players returning,” Elbert said. “It could be a rough start. Hopefully, we’ll improve a lot by district tournament time.”

Elbert, who’s in his 10th season with the Cavaliers and is assisted by Tom Brumfield, said they are seeded fourth in the Pierce City Tournament and will open against Sarcoxie at 6 p.m. on Monday.

Elbert said that Brown, Hockman and Oserowsky are probable starters for the opener. Other candidates, all juniors, are 5-10 Ivan Crossland, 6-3 Dustin Moehr, 5-8 Jonathan Shumaker and 5-8 Jantzen Westfall.

Elbert currently has nine players on the varsity roster. Completing the group are 6-4 junior Xavier Welch and 5-6 freshman Joe Simpson.

Said Elbert of the Ozark 7 Conference: “It looks very talented overall and has several strong teams at the top.”

Southwest handed the Cavaliers their 2009-10 regular-season loss.

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