CANTON, Mo. — The Canton R-V School District has hired Ron Curtis to be its high school boys basketball head coach.
Curtis previously served as the boys basketball head coach at Mendon Unity High School in Illinois.
Curtis said Canton athletic director Clint Smith reached out to see if he would be interested in the head coaching job.
“I enjoy working with young people and it’s closer to home in Hannibal,” Curtis said. “I have a lot of friends in Hannibal, Palmyra and Canton. I definitely wanted to get back to coaching in Missouri.”
Curtis takes over for Cody Ash, who had to resign as Canton’s head coach midway through the 2020-21 season due to health problems. Samantha Powers served as the interim head coach for the remainder of the 2020-21 season.
Prior to coaching at Mendon Unity, Curtis had served as the boys basketball head coach at Hannibal for one year. He also was a volunteer assistant basketball coach at Hannibal-LaGrange University and coached high school basketball in Texas for a decade.
The number one priority for Curtis will be improving Canton’s defensive play.
“I was very fortunate to be in situations in Houston where I learned from some college coaches and a couple of NBA players,” Curtis said. “One thing I learned was you can always turn a program around by teaching defense. Playing good defense in high school doesn’t have to do as much about basketball skills, as much as it has to do about heart.”
Curtis plans to keep the playbook simple and let his players play.
“Basketball has changed a lot in the last few years,” Curtis said. “It’s a transition game. We are going to get the ball and go with it. We are not going to walk it up, we are going to push it.”
The Tigers graduated leading scorer Sam Arnold from last year’s team, as well as four other seniors.
Among some of the top returners include Kyle Frazier, Dalton Berhorst, Brady Hoewing and Robert Sutton.
Canton finished 8-14 last season and fell to Northeast in the second round of the Class 2 District 6 Tournament.
Curtis’ main message to his team is to have fun, play hard and win games.
“If we could come out at the end of the year at .500, that would be great,” Curtis said. “Watching them work out (Thursday) night, the freshmen looked very good. A couple of sophomores looked good as well ... I’m excited to see what these young men can do.”