Touting a perfect record, a starting lineup of five former Southeast Missouri State basketball players and a scoring average of more than 70 points per game, the Bank of Missouri team appears well on its way to cruising unscathed to a Cape Girardeau Parks and Recreation men's basketball league title.
Unfair? No. Just flat talented.
Carrying a 12-0 record into Sunday night's Division I semifinal game at the Osage Community Centre, the Bank of Missouri team has been dominant this winter. The squad has outscored its opponents by an average of nearly 20 points per game and finished the regular season as the only undefeated team in all five divisions. Bank of Missouri finished five games ahead of the second-place Division I team.
They hope to finish off the perfect season with a win in the championship, set for 5 p.m. March 19.
"If we get everybody there and play how we can, I think can we win it all," said Brett Hale, who played four seasons at Southeast from 2001 to 2005 and set the career scoring mark in four years at Dexter High School. "We'll have to play well, though."
The team hasn't had a problem playing well this season, which would be expected with a starting five that includes guards Hale, Derek Winans and Cory Johnson, along with former area standout Danny Dohogne in the post and point guard Kevin "K-Rob" Roberts.
All five, along with reserve Travis Smith, played basketball for Southeast. Hale, Winans and Roberts played the bulk of their Southeast careers together.
Others on the team with collegiate basketball experience include Drew Church (Division I Evansville) and Cory Barker (Shawnee Community College). Mark Harris and Luke Sample fill out the roster.
"We're just having fun," said Winans, who was a perennial leading scorer and academic All-American for Southeast. "It's good to go out and play again, especially with Kevin and Brett."
Several of the Bank of Missouri members have followed their basketball passions beyond their organized playing days.
Johnson is the basketball coach and athletic director -- as well as baseball coach -- at Kelly High School. Roberts and Church are junior varsity boys basketball coaches at Notre Dame and Jackson, respectively. Hale assisted his father, Paul Hale, in coaching at Notre Dame this past season and will continue his coaching career as an assistant at Farmington next season.
The team, which was organized by Dohogne and Smith, is led in scoring by Winans, who topped the division at 23 points per game in the regular season. Winans, Johnson and Hale were among the top four scoring leaders in the division for much of the regular season. Due to minimum games played, Hale's 18.7 scoring average in six games did not qualify in the scoring race.
"Derek's kind of our No. 1 option," Hale said. "He plays like he's still in the same shape he was in during college.
"Cory doesn't quite move or guard as well as he used to, but if he gets open for [a 3-pointer,] it's just like a lay-up. He kind of hangs around on the outside."
Dohogne led Notre Dame to consecutive high school state titles in 1986 and 1987 and holds both the single-season and career field goal percentage records at Southeast. Now 36, the 6-foot-7 Dohogne remains a force in the paint.
"It's getting tougher," he said, "but I like to get out there, and it's fun to play with all those guys that know how to play. It makes it worthwhile. It's good to have those guys on the team so I don't have to do as much."
Roberts, who is known as a low-scoring, laid-back jokester, said that while the players all take the season rather seriously, he just enjoys dishing out assists and providing entertainment.
"I'm kind of the comic relief on the team," he said. "You got guys that take it seriously, then I'll come down the court and do some fancy stuff, and other teams sometimes get mad. I just do whatever's needed.
"It's fun watching those guys shoot. They make me look better."
Roberts said that he can't foresee his team losing, but he said it is a possibility considering the rate "us old guys" are wearing down.
"You never know," he said. "We could have people missing, and we're getting old. I'm 23 years old, but my knees feel like they're about 53."
After a couple months of basketball, 13 wins, more than 900 accumulated points and aching knees, Bank of Missouri team members aren't content with just having fun. They want the title.
"It's pretty fun," Hale said. "We've done a pretty good job, and everyone plays hard. It's not like we're not going out there and giving it everything we have; it's serious for us. We joke around a little bit, but we take pride in playing and doing what we can do."