ELKVILLE ELVERADO
BY JACK BULLOCK
Elverado surprised a lot of folks in southern Illinois last season and set some school records in the process.

They became the first Falcons' boy's basketball team to 20-games and they took home a conference title for the first time since 1964.

This season they have some losses to deal with but they also have some players back that will want to build upon what they accomplished last winter.

Seniors who graduated this past spring from the team were Joey Dunham, Sage Sarensen, Noah Barnes, Logan Cavitt and Austin Lashbrook.

Sarensen and Dunham were starters and were important to the groundwork that head coach Jacob Emling laid out when he arrived two seasons ago.

"We will have some big shoes to fill in Joey, and Sage. Those guys did everything we asked of them. We will especially miss them on the glass, they were two of our leading rebounders,” said Coach Emling.

This season's club will have some new kids in uniform while also having some that will be back to help the team improve.

Two seniors who were starters last season; 5-foot-11 Avery Caraker and 5-foot-10 Gage Funk return.

The juniors include point guard and ABV special mention 5-foot-10 Aquntez Penn along with 5-foot-10 Trey Bernardini and 6-foot Blaine Morse.

Aquntez Penn should join the 1,000-point club this season as a junior.

The sophomore class includes 6-foot-1 Michael Shearer, 6-foot Dawson White and 5-foot-9 Tanner Shread.

Three underclassmen have arrived in Elkville and Coach Emling believes they will all help out.

Six-foot-one sophomore Sam Alstat coming in from nearby Herrin, 6-foot-3 junior Isaac Floyd comes in from Sparta while Ryland Hartman, a 6-foot junior, comes in from Fairbury Prairie Central.

All should help the Falcons be a better team which will keep the winning going at a school that hasn't seen this kind of success in decades.

Coach Emling also mentioned some freshmen who could be useful in the varsity games this season; 6-foot-3 Brody Troutt and 5-foot-10 Jonathan Reese.

"I believe that we will be extremely athletic this year. We will have one of the best groups of guards out of teams in our conference, and on our schedule. We are going to rely heavily on seniors Avery Caraker, and Gage Funk to lead us,” said Coach Emling. “They both work and play extremely hard, and I think we will go how they go. Gage had a good summer pushing the tempo on offense, running the floor for a lot of bucket, and Avery is a workhorse on defense. We will rely on Aquntez Penn, Dawson White, and Sam Alstat to be a big part as well. They will make up a lot of our scoring, and don't mind sharing the ball with each other. They all have the ability to knock down the outside shot, or take the ball to the rim. Issaac Floyd will come in and play too. He is a big man down low that we will rely on to score in the post and rebound. Trey Bernardini, and Michael Shearer should get good minutes as well. They bring a lot defensively, and really get after it on the glass, and rebounding will be key for us this year, after losing two rebounders to graduation last year. I'm looking forward to a fun season, where I think we will have a lot of different options to give teams different looks.”

Going 0-25 in 2015-16 to improve to 21-9 last season was an improbable turnaround of fortunes for this small school.

OUTLOOK – The Falcons were definitely a pleasant surprise last winter and there win over Meridian snapped Meridian's 66-game South Egyptian Conference winning streak. They did lose some important players to transfer and graduation, but they have talent returning and the transfers in should help immediately. The difference this season is the word is out about Elverado and they won't be able to sneak up on anyone. They will be a threat to win the conference title again this season and perhaps win the school's first boy's basketball regional title.

2017-18 VARSITY SCHEDULE

N20-25

Crab Orchard Turkey Tournament J9

@ Marion (IL.) Agape Christian

N28 Marissa-Coulterville J16-20 Egyptian Invitational Tournament
D5 @ Dongola J23 Wolf Lake Shawnee
D8 Tamms Egyptian J27 Pinckneyville Showcase
D9 Ramsey F2 @ Mounds Meridian
D12 Marion (IL.) Agape Christian F6 @ Galatia
D15 @ Cobden F9 Ullin Century
D16 @ Thompsonville F13 Gateway Legacy Christian Academy
D28-29 Pinckneyville "Duster Thomas Classic" F16 Joppa-Maple Grove
J4 Zeigler-Royalton F19-23 IHSA Regional TBD