BY JACK BULLOCK
Last February and March, the Sesser-Valier Red Devils put together yet another postseason run, reaching their third 1A supersectional.

In the previous two, S-V advanced to the state finals in Peoria.

But last March was a different story as the Red Devils fell to eventual third place finisher Moweaqua Central A&M 79-69, as their season ended at 26-6.

Coach Shane Garner saw a pretty good group of players and teammates walk away from the program as graduates, including 1A Deep South ABV “Player of the Year” Tyler Winchester.

The Fairfield Mules also made a long postseason jaunt, all the way to the Vandalia 2A Sectional final before losing to Teutopolis, 55-47 as their record-breaking campaign closed at 32-3.

Coach McElravy also lost some key personnel but return plenty of weapons a Sweet 16 team.

No one else on either side of the league got past the regionals.

Chester, Carmi-White County and Goreville all lost regional championship games, with the Yellow Jackets and Blackcats both losing on their home floors in the title tilts.

All three of those teams have players back that will make them postseason threats once again.

Coach Brad Norman has done quite a job in resurrecting a Chester Yellow Jackets program that didn't have a lot of hardware in the case, especially postseason.

This Dongola native is by far the all-time win's leader at the school heading into his ninth year at the helm.

The Yellow Jackets suffered a tough home loss to West Frankfort, 54-38, in the regional finale.

Goreville was the highest seed in their own regional but the Blackcats stumbled at home to Cairo, 74-71.

Coach Todd Tripp will once again have some good ones to mentor heading into 2019-20.

Carmi-White County and head coach Kevin Wolff also have some talent returning from a 10-18 club that was ousted from the postseason by conference mate Fairfield, 70-56 at the Harrisburg 2A Regional final.

A pair of veteran guards and an improving front court could help turn those won-loss marks around this winter.

Also in the East Division, Edwards County and head coach Russ Gerlach faces a “good news/bad news” scenario this season.

The good news is that the Lions will roar into the postseason in class 1A instead of 2A.

The bad news is that he has four key players missing from the 2018-19 squad, which added up to 97 percent of the Ed Co output.

Edwards County bowed out early in the Mount Carmel 2A Regional with a first game loss to Flora.

The sledding will be a bit easier this coming February if they are up to the task.

Johnston City has a bunch of points missing this season as well, with eight seniors having left taking most of the varsity minutes from a year ago with them.

Coach Scott Burzynski heads into his third season as the big chief of the Indians' nation coming off of a 17-16 mark, which marked the first winning campaign since 2013-14 for the boy's basketball program.

They actually picked up a postseason win over Vienna before losing to eventually regional champ Pinckneyville at the 2A Anna-Jonesboro Regional.

Head coach Doug Miller returned back home to his Alma mater, taking over a 2A program that has struggle for the past few seasons in coming up with victories.

A 50-49 loss to Harrisburg on the Bulldogs' home floor closed the book on a cold 4-27 winter.

This coach is working towards turning things around by building upon the young Foxes coming up.

In the West Division head coach Eric Stallman will lead some good ones into battle at Christopher.

The Bearcats were moments away from shocking Sesser-Valier on the Red Devils' court in the regional semifinals a year ago.

S-V hung on for a 46-44 win, eventually winning the regional and sectional titles.

Six Bearcats from last season who sported significant varsity experience are back along with a transfer who comes back home after being a part of a larger program in Franklin County most recently.

These 'Cats have a good shot at improving on their 12-18 mark from 2018-19.

Vienna and head man Cory Waters ended up 13-18 overall last winter, closing out with a loss to Johnston City, 57-52 at the 2A Anna-Jonesboro Regional.

The Eagles lost all five starters from season last and will turn to a couple of key returning players along was some newcomers as they will open their season in the usual manor; hosting a six-team round robin turkey tournament.

The Trico Pioneers head into this winter, also off of a 13-18 run.

Coach Dan King led his team to a regional win over Red Bud before bowing out at 11-22 with a loss to the host Yellow Jackets of the Chester 2A Regional.

Two senior starters and a key transfer out is the down side while Coach King does return some talent, experience and some much needed depth.

Zeigler-Royalton will have a new skipper on the deck leading the Tornadoes as former player and standout Jimmy Stevens takes over the wheel from Matt Morgan.

Z-R showed marked improvement last season, posting a 6-24 mark after going 0-22 the previous season.

Moving forward for the Tornadoes is on the Doppler.

For complete team-by-team previews, click on the team links below.