For a young team last season, the Goreville Blackcats put together a pretty impressive season under head coach Todd Tripp.
But perhaps the best is yet to come.
The kids that were part of the learning process last winter are a year older and more mature.
This bodes well for a program that has been pretty good for the past decade.
Perhaps its time for a big move upward?
Coach Tripp has an impressive mark since taking over his Alma mater 12 years ago.
The Blackcats have cast a spell on many of an opponent in that time frame, as Goreville is 239-117 in that stretch. Eight of those seasons produced 20+ wins.
Last season against a beefed up schedule, Goreville went 22-10 and won a 1A Regional title on their home floor, topping Gallatin County 88-69, for the school's seventh boy's regional title and the fifth for Coach Tripp.
As for this season, the Blackcats have a wealth of experience returning to try to make 2016-17 memorable.
Coach Tripp has some good ones returning and with a lot of depth to boot.
It starts with 5-foot-11 junior guard Braden Webb and 6-foot-6 senior Brant Glidewell. This pair are both nearing 1,000-points and with Webb being just a junior, he could become one of the top scorers in the school's storied history.
Webb averaged 16.6 points a game for the Blackcats last season while Glidewell did a lot of 'gliding' to the basket a year ago.
Glidewell dominated around the glass, scoring 13.7 points while grabbing 10.3 rebounds a night.
Both of these players could lead this program to a school first sectional title in March.
They are that good.
But the rest of the crew should do more than just compliment Webb and Glidewell.
Tanner Dunn showed last year he could get things 'done' on offense, as he averaged just under 10 points a game for Goreville.
Six-foot-four senior Davis Helton and 5-foot-10 junior Peyton Massey were also part of the winning ways of last season, a campaign in which only their four losses to Christopher were to 1A schools. The rest came from larger schools, including 3A Benton.
Coach Tripp has had teams that like to pressure the ball and run the floor.
He will always look for extra help and he has plenty coming back this season.
Six-foot-three junior Cole Tosh is back after a pretty good sophomore year as is 5-foot-9 junior Raymond Lewis.
Jacob Crews, a 6-foot senior, 5-foot-10 senior Blaine Dunning, 5-foot-11 junior Peyton Geyman and 5-foot-11 junior Morgan Bishop will make for a deep reserve corps.
The schedule of tough games is by design and it begins in earnest with their own invitational tournament with Benton, Anna-Jonesboro, Johnston City and Hamilton County; all of which are 2A squads. Regular season games with West Frankfort and 1A power Woodlawn along with 3A teams at the Massac County Superman Classic in January should only help strengthen this team.
“We have experience that we hope to build on this year. I like the potential of this team and I'm looking forward to seeing how this team will grow this year,” said Coach Tripp, who has learned from some of the best coaches in IHSA history. “If they work hard and all have the same goal, we could be a team that could make some noise in the post-season. We have many kids that will play important roles on this team and if they all accept the roles they have, we could be fun to watch. We want to be ready come February.”
N27-D2 Goreville Invitational Tournament J27 @ Woodlawn


@ West Frankfort J30 @ Chester
D18 Cobden F2 Christopher
D26-29 Sesser-Valier Holiday Tournament F3 Benton "Rich Herrin Shootout"
J5 @ Campbell Hill Trico F6 Zeigler-Royalton
J6 Vienna F9 Sesser-Valier
J9 @ Sesser-Valier F10 @ Vienna
J12 @ Christopher F13 Chester
J15-20 Metropolis "Superman Classic" F16 Campbell Hill Trico
J26 @ Zeigler-Royalton F19-23 IHSA Regional TBD