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Tri-Lakes Area's loss has been Ozark's gain, as Schweitzer leads Tigers over Pirates again

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Having put in six seasons as an assistant, including five at Ozark, Mark Schweitzer sent his resume in the spring of 2012 to two schools in hopes of landing what he viewed as dream jobs.

Schweitzer had hopes of returning to the Tri-Lakes Area, where he had established himself as a standout player at Reeds Spring and College of the Ozarks. Reeds Spring had an opening for a head coach, as did Branson.

“I felt ready and was looking to branch out,” Schweitzer said.

He received an interview at Reeds Spring, but was bypassed. Branson didn’t oblige him with an interview.

“They both said they wanted (head) coaching experience,” Schweitzer said. “I was pretty bummed when I got passed up for both jobs.”

“I’m sure Branson is not too happy about that now, but here at Ozark we sure are,” Ozark senior guard Ethan Whatley said. “We’re glad we have coach Schweitzer.”

Since being promoted to replace Steve Hunter at Ozark in 2013, Schweitzer has led the Tigers to at least one win over Branson in each of his nine seasons as their head coach. That streak continues, with Ozark downing the Pirates earlier this week.

Overall, the Tigers are 10-1 under Schweitzer opposite Branson and have won eight in a row against the Pirates.

Schweitzer is far from ever thinking what might have been had he been hired by Branson.

“I love the Branson area and have many friends there. I would have been very happy to take the job, especially with it being my very first high school head coach’s job,” Schweitzer said. “Would have, could have, should have … who knows what would have happened if I had gotten it. I probably would have been the worst coach ever.”

In fairness to Branson, the Pirates made a very good hire 10 years ago by choosing Brian McTague from Clever. McTague led Branson to 19 wins and a COC championship in the 2012-13 season. But with McTague’s wife not offered a job as a teacher at Branson, he was lured away by Glendale after one season with the Pirates.

Reeds Spring hired another Reeds Spring grad, Barry Yocom, in 2012. He’s since gone the administrator route as a principal at Jasper.

Meanwhile, Schweitzer has compiled a 158-80 W-L record at Ozark. He’s led the Tigers to six seasons of 18 wins or more.

“I’ve had a great run of parents and kids,” Schweitzer said. “Here at Ozark, I’m going to find kids who can dribble, shoot and pass. As long as I can keep getting the kids to buy in to play together, we’re going to continue to have good basketball teams.

It all worked out and shows things happen for a reason,” he added. “I’m an Ozark Tiger. I’ve been here for 15 years. This is my home.”

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