MULBERRY GROVE
BY JACK BULLOCK
Improvement is what all head coaches want to see each season, and they want to see their kids get better as each season progresses.

Head coach Mark Bollinger saw both things happen last year as the Aces played much better later in the season as they did early.

The 10-18 record may not show it, but the play in the second half of the season was better.

Mulberry Grove picked up some decent wins last year, including beating Bunker Hill in non-conference play and playing St. Elmo-Brownstown tough in two different games.

The final loss of the season was to the Eagles in the Altamont 1A Regional.

For the good news of the day for Coach Bollinger and his club, nearly everyone returns for more games and hopefully some added excitement.

Despite two graduation losses, Michael Sloan and Jake Linnabary, the Aces have many cards in the deck (or in this case, planes in the hanger) heading into 2017-18.

Five-foot-seven junior guard Courtlyn Latham returns for his third year of starting for Mulberry Grove.

Joey Linnabary, a 6-foot-1 senior, and 6-foot-5 sophomore Wyatt Criner are also back as well as senior Ross Tompkins.

Latham, Linnabary, and Criner were starters while Tompkins played enough to letter.

Alex Franklin transfers back to the program after a year away and the same can be said for Joe Archibald, who left and returned.

Franklin is a 5-foot-10 senior guard while Archibald is a 6-foot-4 senior.

Both should help out immediately.

Coach Bollinger also mentioned 5-foot-8 freshman Jackson Isringhausen and 5-foot-11 sophomore Kalib Scoggins for potential varsity minutes.

Add the names of 5-foot-9 junior Kade Swain and 6-foot junior Connor Brown to the list of contributors this season.

Along with losing Sloan and Linnabary to graduation, the Aces lost Zane Belcher to injury.

“The competition this season should be quite different than in season's past. Many teams we faced last year will be in rebuilding mode with younger less experienced rosters. Graduation hit several teams hard especially in our conference. If our team comes together I feel we will contend for all three tournaments on our schedule, the conference title, and a regional,” said Coach Bollinger. “Courtlyn Latham will be a 1000-point scorer, I'm just not sure if he can reach that milestone this year.”

OUTLOOK – This team looks to be much improved despite the graduation losses. Sometimes it just takes the right timing and chemistry for things to come together. While some of the teams in this area (EIC) won't be as strong as they have been, Mulberry Grove looks to be better than last season. This could help move the Aces into position to snag this conference title and perhaps defend their home turf when they open the season hosting their annual Turkey Tournament.

2017-18 VARSITY SCHEDULE
N20-25 Mulberry Grove Turkey Tournament J23 Nokomis

N28

Sandoval J26 @ Centralia Christ Our Rock Lutheran
D5 @ Patoka J30 Cowden-Herrick-Beecher City
D8 @ Bunker Hill F2 Windsor-Stewardson-Strasburg
D12-16 St. Elmo Holiday Tournament F6 Odin
D21 @ Brussels F9 @ Farina South Central
J6-13 Morrisonville "Mohawk Classic" F16 @ Ramsey
J16 Glen Carbon (IL.) Father McGivney F19-23 IHSA Regional TBD
J19 @ St. Elmo-Brownstown F27-M2 IHSA Sectional TBD