BENTONVILLE (KFSM) - Northwest Arkansas high school basketball got a big dose of Missouri in the offseason. Bentonville hired Dick Rippee away from Springfield Kickapoo and Rogers tabbed former Willard coach Lamont Frazier as its new leader.
With the Tigers 9-3 and the Mounties 7-6 heading into conference play, each coach looks to impact the 7A-West right away.
"The league speaks for itself in terms of the depth of it. You know on any given night anyone can be beaten," Rogers senior Jaden Uecker said.
"I really don’t think there’ll be an easy night," added Rippee.
"It’s the 7A West for a reason, every team there’s gonna be good every game’s gonna be hard fought," Frazier said.
For Rippee, one of the best parts of coaching Bentonville is working hands on with the team.
"As far as the transition goes I just really enjoy teaching and missed doing that. It’s not that I haven’t been doing it’s just that I haven’t had to do it every day [at Kickapoo High School]," Rippee said.
"I love Coach Ripp, he’s one of my favorite coaches so far. The transition has been very smooth, it’s more smooth than I expected," Tigers senior Asa Hutchinson IV said.
Frazier, a former star player at Missouri looks forward to making an impact with the Mounties.
"I think it’s development, having the opportunity to be in a place where you get to kind of leave your footprint on things and move in a direction that you want to move," Frazier said.
"He really knows what he’s talking about, I mean it’s not like you’re thinking where’s this guy coming from, but he knows everything we’re doing has a purpose," Uecker said of the first year coach.
In the end, 12-13 games of non-conference play just isn't enough to truly make your mark.
"He’s wanting to be further along than where he is just like we’d like to be further along but the truth of the matter is it just takes time it takes several years to get your program established," said Rippee.
At the start of 7A-West play Heritage, Har-Ber and Bentonville West all have at least 10 wins. Rogers and Fayetteville sit at the bottom of the league but each team has a winning record of 7-6. The league's cumulative record is 74-31.