ANNA-JONESBORO
BY JACK BULLOCK
Coach Mike Chamness has two starters back and some young kids to work with as the 2016-17 season approaches.

After an injury-plagued 2015-16, which saw A-J lose its best player in the third game of the season, the Wildcats carried on.

Zach Parr, the teams' top returning player from the previous season, was lost for the year and with him went leadership and scoring.

The Wildcats season came to an abrupt halt in the regional semifinals, losing to the host Eagles in overtime at the 2A Vienna Regional.

Coach Chamness' club finished a respectable 16-14 on the season and their JV squad was above .500 which is a good sign.

Many of the kids last season were forced to play both JV and Varsity, that fact should help the experience factor heading forward.

Two starters are where the Wildcats will start this season in rebuilding.

Jake Parr, a 6-foot-2 senior, and 5-foot-11 junior guard Sheldon McGrath both played big roles on the team a year ago.

Coach Chamness look for those two to step up and become leaders of this squad.

Jade Gillis, a 6-foot-1 senior guard, 6-foot-1 senior forward, and 6-foot-5 senior Izzy Markovic look to contribute.

It appears that the Wildcats will have some depth with 6-foot-4 junior Logan Sawyer, 5-foot-8 junior Jacob Zimmerman, 5-foot-8 Ross Pinnon and 5-foot-11 Noah Smith all getting a chance to contribute.

A pair of sophomores; Tyler Smith and Carson Reynolds, both 6-foot, will be part of the retooling of the Wildcats.

The opportunities are abundant for the group as eight seniors who hogged most of the minutes last winter are gone.

“Finding some new pieces to go with some returning guys will be the main concern for us,” said Coach Chamness, an A-J grad and seven year head coach for his Alma Mater. "We return two staters in Parr and McGrath, we will rely on those two to do a lot for us especially early. We will need to find the right guys to go with them. I think we have a lot of balance, with a lot of guys who are pretty even, so people will have to separate themselves early on. We will have a lot of new faces. Last year we had a lot of new guys playing but those new guys were seniors. This year, the new guys will be mostly juniors and sophomores so adapting to the pace of play may take some time.”
2017-18 VARSITY SCHEDULE
N27-D2 Goreville Invitational Tournament J12 @ Sparta

D8

@ Nashville J13-20 West Frankfort Mid-Winter Classic
D9 @ Cobden J26 Nashville
D15 Carterville J27 West Frankfort
D16 Metropolis Massac County F2 @ Carterville
D19 @ Chester F3 Benton Shootout
D22 @ Pinckneyville F9 Pinckneyville
D26-28 Eldorado Holiday Tournament F10 @ Du Quoin
J5 Du Quoin F16 Sparta
J9 @ Ullin Century F19-23 IHSA Regional TBD