COLUMBIA
BY JACK BULLOCK
Columbia head coach Mark Sandstrom has a crew coming back that makes him feel this will be a “fun and exciting season” for the Eagles.

After a 14-15 season against a brutal schedule, Columbia will embark on another gauntlet of powerful teams this season, including an upgrade in the league.

The Eagles will have to be ready against the teams in the tournaments that are entered (Mascoutah, Columbia, Belleville East) and also Salem replaces Red Bud in the Cahokia Conference, which is a larger school in comparison.

Coach Sandstrom always seems to have the kids ready to play from the beginning of the year and this season should be no different.

All five starters return from the team that lost in the 3A regional at Bethalto to Jerseyville in overtime.

Six-foot senior guard Jordan Holmes averaged 21 points a game while also grabbing 7.8 rebounds a contest. He dished out three assists a game.

He is a two-time all-conference choice.

“He is the best player I have coached in my 16 years on the sidelines,” said Coach Sandstrom. “And he is getting some D-I and D-II looks.”

Upfront the Eagles have 6-foot-6 junior Jon Peterson who also brings back some impressive numbers (12 points, seven boards) and he was also all-conference.

Six-foot-eight junior Cole Khoury returns to give Columbia a tall presence in the paint.

Toss in the names Jared Germain, a 5-foot-6 senior guard, and 5-foot-10 senior guard Brennen van Breusegen to the mix.

Both averaged around four points a night for the Eagles a season ago.

Six-foot-three senior Drew Worley and 6-foot-1 senior Mitch Huebner will provide some senior leadership and a role player inside, according to Coach Sandstrom.

“I’m very excited about our underclassmen perimeter players. Six-foot-one junior Riley Hubler is a great defender and one of our better perimeter shooters,” added Coach Sandstrom. “Sophomore Sam Horner and sophomore Jacob O’Connor. Both will add to our depth and improved perimeter shooting.”

“We have a great group of kids that pull for one another, work extremely hard, and love basketball. We hope to stay healthy, execute our roles, and improve every day,” said Coach Sandstrom. ““We have a lot of experience returning with a lot of versatility. That is perhaps the most exciting thing for me as a coach. We played all of our youth last year to prepare for the 17-18 and 18-19 seasons. We can play a variety of different ways led by our all-state candidate, Jordan Holmes.”

OUTLOOK – The Eagles should be in the hunt for this conference championship and the other parts of the schedule will make them better in the long run. The 3A thing still hangs around their neck, as it does Breese Central, in this league. This coach will get the most out of his kids and they, as a unit, will make the most out of this situation. Depending on how things go this season and if the key players stay healthy, they could be in the regional title mix in February and March.

2017-18 VARSITY SCHEDULE
N21-D2 Mascoutah Thanksgiving Tournament J23 Salem

D9

Belleville East J26 @ Okawville
D12 @ Salem J30 Bethalto Civic Memorial
D15 Freeburg F2 Mascoutah
D19 @ Carlyle F9 Carlyle
D26-29 Columbia/Freeburg Holiday Tournament F12 @ Trenton Wesclin
J5 @ Breese Central F16 @ Freeburg
J6 Highland Shootout F20 Breese Central
J9 @ Waterloo F23 Troy Triad
J16-20 Belleville East Invitational Tournament F25-M2 IHSA Regional TBD