SPRINGFIELD — One of southwest Missouri’s premier prospects in recent years showed off his shooting ability and all-around game at the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions as Xavier recruit Jared Ridder helped his Kickapoo Chiefs hang tough early with Montverde in the opening round on Thursday and play within four points (56-52) of Greenforest, Ga. on Friday.
A long 6’8 wing player, Ridder committed to Xavier in June and officially signed during the early signing period in November. He helped the Chiefs advance all the way to the Class 5 state championship game a year ago, and to a No. 5 ranking this season.
Known for his ability to light up the scoreboard from 3-point range, Ridder improved his game over the summer, helping MoKan Elite capture a Peach Jam title. He has since taken his game to new heights this fall, averaging nearly 25 points per game.
Kickapoo (10-4) will next take on Republic (10-4), two of the better teams in southwest Missouri.
“Republic is a really good defensive team so we just have to come out and be patient and take good shots,” he said.
Ridder said the experience of playing some of the best competition at the Tournament of Champions will only serve to make them better in the long run. Last season, the Chiefs took seventh at the T of C, beating Bolivar after falling to talented Sierra Canyon and Christ the King squads.
“It is one of the best tournaments in the nation so it’s an honor to be in it,” Ridder said. “It has a great atmosphere and there’s a lot of media here so we can have our team get some exposure.”
Ridder said the Chiefs came out with a different mindset on Friday, and the squad hung tough with Greenforest (12-4) throughout before falling by four points.
“We came out with a lot more energy tonight,” Ridder said. “Last night we didn’t seem too excited to play so tonight we came out and were more focused and had a better mindset.”
Kickapoo 2017 guard Cam Davis led the way for the Chiefs on Friday, going for 22 points and three assists.
“Cam is a great player and a better person. I have been around him my whole life playing basketball with him,” Ridder said. “He brings a lot of energy and is the leader of our team. He sets everyone up and is a true point guard.”