COBDEN
BY JACK BULLOCK
Another of the small schools in southern Illinois that is optimistic about their boy's basketball team this coming season are the folks in Cobden.

The Home of the Appleknockers have nearly everyone back from a club that forged a three-way tie for the South Egyptian Conference title last winter with a 7-1 mark.

However the non-conference games were a different story as Cobden went just 3-16 against everyone else to end the year at 10-18 overall with a tough 73-64 loss at home to eventual regional champ Mounds Meridian in the semifinals.

Coach Rhett Barke lost just one senior from a year ago and the ones returning are wanting to build off of what they accomplished in the league a year ago.

Two senior starters are a good place to begin the 2017-18 preseason story, with 5-foot-10 point guard John Russell and 6-foot-3 forward Clayton Eck.

Russell is nearing 1,000-points for his Appleknockers' and he and Eck are veteran players who are a ready for a final run.

Coach Barke mentioned a pair of starters from a season ago who are now sophomores; 6-foot-5 Joe Brumleve and 6-foot-1 Dylan Lewey.

Both were important to the success factor.

The Appleknockers should have some good depth to go with all of the experience.

It doesn't hurt any that the reserve unit has some size.

Guards 5-foot-11 senior Conner Allen and 6-foot-3 junior Zane Nance, return.

Coach Barke is very impressed with incoming 6-foot-4 freshman forward Noah Franklin.

“He will see early minutes and may break the starting lineup for the first game,” said Coach Barke. “His athletic ability and shooting accuracy will make him very difficult and one of the top freshman to watch this season.”

Upfront Cobden will have help coming off the bench with 6-foot-3 sophomore forward Carl Evans, 6-foot-1 sophomore forward Landon Britt and 6-foot-3 sophomore guard Clayton Flamm all looking for minutes.

“This years team will be very lengthy and quick. If the players can continue to work together, we should be aimed to make some noise in the Regional, which is long overdue for the Appleknockers,” said Coach Barke, who is 74-107 in seven seasons at Cobden. “Cobden is in search of their first Regional title since the storybook 1964 Appleknockers and this team has a legitimate chance to reach this goal. Look for Cobden to build off last years conference success and improve upon it post-season.”

OUTLOOK – It is a good thing when small schools improve and become factors in tournaments and conference championships. The Appleknockers have depth and size, both are attributes that are normally reserved for the larger schools. It has been a long time since Cobden had success in boy's basketball. They have won state titles in boy's baseball and girl's softball so the school knows about postseason success. Why not add some boy's basketball hardware to the trophy case?

2017-18 VARSITY SCHEDULE

N20-25

Vienna Classic J6 @ Thompsonville
D1 @ Dongola J8-13 Chester Invitational Tournament
D2 @ Christopher J19 Carrier Mills
D5 @ Joppa Maple Grove J23 Marion Agape Christian
D8 @ Mounds Meridian J27 Pinckneyville Showcase
D9 Anna-Jonesboro J30 Vienna
D12 Wolf Lake Shawnee F2 @ Ulin Century
D15 Elkville Elverado F9 Tamms Egyptian
D19 @ Goreville F13 @ Marion Crab Orchard
D26-29 Sesser-Valier Holiday Tournament F20-24 IHSA Regional TBD