BY JACK BULLOCK
If you are looking for someone to challenge the top team in the Mississippi Valley Conference to keep them from repeating as champs, it is probably the ones dressed in Purple and White.

Highland is the defending champs but Mascoutah probably has the best shot at dethroning the Bulldogs.

Second year head coach Justin Love is a familiar name in the St. Louis sports region.

He played D-I college basketball across the river at St. Louis University for coaches' Charlie Spoonhour and Lorenzo Romar.

Love and his Indians went 17-13 in 2017-18, losing to Alton Marquette, 54-43, in the 3A regional semifinals at Waterloo last February.

It was the first above .500 finish for the Mascoutah boy's basketball team in the last decade.

Love must replace a couple of seniors but his returning players all have some experience from last winter.

Mascoutah lost first team all conference player 6-foot-5 guard Blake Weiss and starting 5-foot-11 point guard Jaydon Stewart.

Both will obviously be missed but the rest of the crew that returns looks to step forward in a big way.

“We will start five seniors, four who are returning from last years team,” said Coach Love. “I think everyone will be important on our team. Everyone has a role. I think we have a really good starting five.

Five-foot-eleven senior point guard Jarrod Johnson is back for the Indians.

Six-foot-three senior guard Shawn Wiestroer returns as does second team all-conference swingman 6-foot-3 Malik Green.

Mascoutah has a pair of 6-foot-7 seniors; Aly Keys and Tyler Jowett.

Keys is a transfer from Georgia and Jowett played last season for Mascoutah.

Sophomore point guard Cedric Rhodes will also see a lot of minutes.

“I think everyone will be important on our team. Everyone has a role. I think we have a really good starting five. All of whom I think will play at the next level next year,” said Coach Love. “Malik Green is our key and most dynamic player and will be in conversation for player of the year in conference. The key will be bench and guys stepping up. We have really talented sophomore point guard Cedric Rhodes who is difference maker off the bench. We also have eight seniors with experience.”

OUTLOOK – The Indians have a good coach in place that has experience playing at the Division I level in college. They have the size and the guard play to have a really big season. Like all teams, the defensive end is where the games are won and lost. Having size in the paint will help on the defense and rebounding. They will be the main threat to unseat the reigning league champs.

N26-D6 Mascoutah/Wesclin Tournament
Enrollment: 1,069 (3A)
D10 @ Salem
Conference: Mississippi Valley
D13 @ Highland
Colors: Purple/White
D14 MICDS Shootout
Head Coach: Justin Love
D17 Civic Memorial
2018-19 Won/Loss Record: 23-12
D21 Belleville Althoff
State Tournament Result:
D26-30 Breese Mater Dei Holiday Tournament
Lost to East St. Louis, 77-60
J3 @ Belleville West
3A Mascoutah Sectional.
J4 Elkville Elverado Shootout
a
J10 OPEN
a
J14 St. Louis (MO.) Riverview Gardens
a
J17 @ Jerseyville
a
J20-25 Nashville Invitational Tournament
a
J31 Triad
a
F4 Highland 1
F7 @ Columbia
a
F11 @ Civic Memorial
a
F14 @ Edwardsville
a
F18 O'Fallon
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F21 @ Waterloo
a
F25 @ Triad
a
F28 Jerseyville a
M2-6 IHSA Regional TBD a