This year, the Oak Ridge boys basketball team put on a show having its best season since 2011, finishing the year with a 21-6 win loss record.
Not only did the Bluejays have three players selected to the Scott-Miss and Mississippi Valley All-Conference teams, but they had senior Camren Volz win the conference player of the year award and head coach Cody Bova earned conference coach of the year in both conferences.
Along with senior Volz, juniors Ty Wilson and Konnor Hobeck also made the Mississippi Valley All-Conference team. Both Wilson and Hobeck will be returning next season and have high hopes for their team. When asked about their goals for next season, they responded they hope to bring home a district banner.
The Bluejays achieved many big goals throughout the 2022-23 season. They became regular-season conference champions and took second place in the conference tournament. However, the Bluejays season was finished with them being knocked off by the No. 6 seeded Oran in the Class 2 District 3 Tournament.
All three players finished their season averaging double digits in the scoring box. Volz produced an average of 17.3 points per contest and two assists per game, Wilson added an average of 15.1 points and 8.1 rebounds and Hobeck contributed 16.2 points along with 3.5 steals.
Class-act senior Volz was honored to accept the titles of Scott-Miss and Mississppi Valley Conference Player of the Year. When asked what it meant to him, he said, “It means a lot because I worked really hard throughout the summer, throughout the season, and all four years.”
Over the summer, Camren played AAU basketball with Missouri Mavericks basketball, and he plans to continue his basketball career at the collegiate level at Missouri Baptist University. Volz is the first player to continue their basketball career after college since 2020 when Zach LeGrand signed with Hannibal-LaGrange.
As for Coach Bova being named the Scott-Miss and Mississippi Valley Conference Coach of the Year, he had no one better to thank than the players themselves.
“I will give the credit to my team for this honor,” Coach Bova said. “They played hard and unselfish basketball all season long and I was blessed with the opportunity to coach this group, they were really special and I want to thank my four seniors.”
The boys basketball program has improved dramatically due to the efforts of Bova. He helped the Bluejays to increase their winning percentage by a remarkable 29.8% in the past year. The players definitely look up to him, including Wilson, who said, “Ever since he came in, I feel like we’ve had a winning culture here.”
While the program has improved it has also been due to the influence of former Oak Ridge athletes, including those of the graduating class of 2020. The all-conference athletes said they looked up to those athletes such as David Layton, Zach LeGrand and Tanner Shamburg. Camren Volz stated, “Whenever I was a freshman, they showed me the ropes and taught me how to play varsity basketball.”
Both Wilson and Hobeck are prepared to take on big leadership roles as they go into their senior season. They know what the team needs them to do in order to succeed.
“I think I’ll definitely take a bigger leadership role on the team because we have so many seniors leaving,” Wilson said. “I want to continue to lead the team in rebounding. I feel like if I can do that the team will lead by example and follow me.”
Hoping to improve off a 21-win season, the team knows what it needs to improve on for next winter.
“I feel like when we came into big games we overlooked our opponents and thought we were going to win,” Wilson said. “I think next year we will be able to improve on that.”
Coach Bova’s thoughts on the matter of improvements were “Defensively, we could get better with our press causing more turnovers, and on offense, I think we need to get more consistent from the three-point and free throw line.”
The three all-conference players for Oak Ridge finished the season with a combined average of 63% from the free throw line and 32.5% for three pointers.
While losing four seniors, the Bluejays hope to continue their success through the efforts of this year’s underclassmen.
“We have two big guards coming up, in [sophomores] Grant Meyer and Cohen Hahs,” Wilson said. “I think they will really help with our ball handling ability and will contribute fewer turnovers in a game.”
The Bluejays have quickly become a sight to see, as they play well together and emphasize humility.
“It sounds simple, but my goal for next season is to have the team play hard and unselfishly every time we step on the floor,” Coach Bova said. “I love it when people come up to me after a game and talk about how hard our team played. I hope we can build on the success we had this season.”