CARTERVILLE
BY JACK BULLOCK
Head coach Shane Hawkins takes on a new job at Carterville after spending the last four seasons at Marion.
Having won games and hardware at both Marion and before that Trico, ABV has no doubt that the success that has happened recently at Carterville will continue.
As a player he won a state title in 1994 with Pinckneyville.
He played in the NCAA tournament for SIU.
When he came back to coach locally he kept on winning.
He led Trico to three regional championships in six seasons, going 146-46.
Although he ended up just 51-63 at Marion in four seasons, he got the Wildcats to a 3A Sectional Final in 2014, losing to Cahokia, 49-41.
In the past three seasons, the Carterville Lions have won three regional titles and a sectional.
But with an enrollment shift the Lions will move up to be one of the smallest 3A teams in the state.
Last season ended in the 2A Sectional at Flora with a loss to Lawrenceville.
Then head coach David Brown and Hawkins basically switched jobs a few months ago with Brown going to Marion.
Hawkins will face a challenge of taking his team up several notches to compete at the next level in the postseason.
The big hole to fill going into 2016-17 is guard Austin Swalls, a 6-foot-2 ABV 2A Second Team pick.
The top player returning for the Lions is a veteran of some important games.
Six-foot-six senior Taylor Heil was a starter as a sophomore and was part of two of the regional titles and the one sectional championship.
Two classmates of Heil are also back in the backcourt.
Seniors 5-foot-10 Blake Jackson and 5-foot-9 Brendan Beasley were both key elements to the winning last season.
Coach Hawkins has a pair of juniors he will likely put in the starting lineup.
Six-foot-two guard Justin Johnson and 6-foot-6 center Luke Ford will and some size to the opening night lineup as they host the Pyramid Plus tournament with some heavy hitters entered.
“Our kids have done a great job buying in to the program and their attitude and effort has been tremendous,” said Coach Hawkins. “We have a core group of guys who have been successful, know what it takes to be successful and want to continue to be successful.”
2017-18 VARSITY SCHEDULE
N20-25 Pyramid Plus Tournament J27 @ Benton

D2

West Frankfort F2 Anna-Jonesboro
D8 Du Quoin F3 @ Metropolis Massac County
D15 @ Anna-Jonesboro F9 @ Nashville
D16 Carbondale F10 Sparta
D20 Nashville F13 @ Harrisburg
D28-29 Pinckneyville "Duster Thomas" Classic F16 Pinckneyville
J5 Sparta F23 Herrin
J12 @ Pinckneyville F26-M2 IHSA Regional TBD
J26 @ Du Quoin M7-10 IHSA Sectional TBD