Dora’s Isaac Haney is Missouri Class 1 Player of the Year
Dora High School sophomore Isaac Haney is Missouri’s 2019 Class 1 Boys Basketball Player of the Year, selected last week by the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association.
Isaac is a member of the Dora Falcons team that recently made Ozark County history when it advanced to the Class 1 championship game March 9 in Springfield. The Falcons lost to the Jefferson Eagles 75-65.
Since then, Isaac and Dora teammate Bryson Luna, also a sophomore, have been named to the 20-member MBCA All-State Class 1 boys basketball team.
Isaac lives 2 miles outside West Plains with his parents, Tina and Curtis Haney. He attended Richards Elementary School from kindergarten through eighth grade and could choose where he went to high school. He has two sisters, Andi and Tabitha, who are eight and 10 years older than he is. Both sisters were basketball stars at West Plains High School and then attended Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, on basketball scholarships.
Despite his sisters’ success at WPHS, Isaac decided to attend high school in Dora, mainly because of Bryson Luna and his brothers – the Luna triplets.
“The triplets and I are close, almost like family. Our dads knew each other, and we grew up playing ball together and hanging out together,” he said. “Since I don’t have siblings close to my age, those three became my brothers. So when it came time to choose [a high school], it felt so easy to make that decision.”
Through their dads, Curtis Haney and Rick Luna, Isaac and the Luna triplets – Bryson, Auston and Mason – had a connection almost from birth. “My grandmother, Dad’s mom, lost a leg, and she was in the hospital about the time the triplets were born. My dad and Coach Luna [Rick Luna is the Dora boys basketball coach] had played men’s softball and basketball together, and they were friends,” Isaac said.
Isaac was born not long after the triplets, and the two dads, having gotten better acquainted while they were both supporting family members in the hospital, continued their friendship. “When it was time to get a little basketball team together, and also a T-ball team, Rick Luna was the first person my dad got ahold off. I’ve played basketball with the triplets since we were 3,” he said.
When he wasn’t playing basketball with the triplets, Isaac was shooting baskets around the outdoor goal at his family’s home – and also at Haney’s Automotive, the West Plains tire shop owned by his dad and his uncles.
During some of their younger years, Isaac and the triplets “did most of our basketball in Springfield” at a basketball facility called The Courts. “Coach Luna coached us, even when we were that young. Me and the triplets always had a fifth man who would go with us for a team, but we core four would always go together.”
The Courts facility is no longer operating. Now, during the off-season, Haney and his parents make the hour-and-forty-five-minute one-way drive from West Plains to Springfield twice a week (or more) to work with Robert Yanders at his basketball training facility called Basketball Movement. There, Isaac trains with a traveling Amateur Athletic Union team that has taken him to competitions “all over the country,” including Las Vegas, Milwaukee and Disney World, he said.
The triplets no longer participate in weekly trips to Springfield, but Isaac says they work just as hard back home. “They work very hard and always push each other,” he said. “You won’t find three teammates as competitive as they are. They stay mentally focused and prepared. That’s the great thing about being teammates with them. They’re so connected.”
Isaac says he can easily tell the lookalike triplets apart by their appearance, “and most of the time I can tell them apart just by their voices.” But the almost-identical triplets caused some controversy this season after two of them swapped places when one of them was fouled and his brother took the shots from the free-throw line. Video of the casual but surreptitious swap went viral and was broadcast by national media. The boys involved in the swap had to sit out a game as punishment; their dad, who coaches the DHS team, sat out three games.
The incident “hasn’t affected us, as far as our relationship goes,” said Isaac. “We try not to cause too much controversy, but when you win, we know there will always be people who try to knock you off. We continue to just play the way we play. We would have loved to have the national attention for our wins, though, instead of that.”
He laughed, saying that, after the free-throw-shooter swap, officials refereeing the team’s games “did a lot more focusing on the triplets’ numbers, but in a respectful and joking manner, running down the floor laughing.”
He had just finished working out last week, during Dora’s spring break, when he checked his phone and saw a text from his aunt congratulating him on being named Missouri’s Class 1 Player of the Year. “It’s completely new to me. I honestly have no idea what it means yet,” he said.
The honor is the latest in a string of accomplishments. Isaac was named MVP in three tournaments this year, and, according to ozarkssportzone.com reporter Mark Spillane, he “surpassed the 1,000 career points [in January] after posting the second highest scoring season for any freshman in MSHSAA History.” During the playoffs, he broke the 1,500-point mark.
Some recent rumors have suggested Isaac might be considering transferring to another district to finish his last two years of high school, but he said Monday he was staying at Dora. “There’s no other place that feels like home. This is where I want to be,” he said.
He ended the 2018-19 season with deep disappointment about coming so close to a state championship and then losing. But he also has a lot of gratitude for those who’ve helped him and his teammates. First, gratitude for his parents: “My father has helped me tremendously. Mom and Dad have been very dedicated to supporting me. I attribute any success to them,” he said. “They’ve poured as much into my basketball career as I have. I’m beyond thankful for them.”
He’s also thankful for his teammates, of course – not only the triplets, but all of the team and its coaches.
And then there are the huge crowds of fans, including many who have no connection to the school except for the pleasure they get in watching the team play. “I’m glad we’ve been able to bond with our fans this year – all the people who came out and watched us play. Honestly, we couldn’t be more appreciative for them,” Isaac said.