Replacing five starters is nothing new to small schools and the Mulberry Grove Aces get to go through it this season as none of the main five return after finishing above .500 at 14-13 with an exit from the regional last season at the hands of Nokomis at the 1A Nokomis Regional.
Coach Mark Bollinger will begin his second season with the Aces in a rebuilding mode, with a lot of missing pieces.
Gone from last season were three starters who had been in the lineup since they were freshmen and sophomores. Four to graduation, one to transfer.
Alex Franklin, the leading scorer from a year ago, left via transfer.
Ty James also left after graduation, taking 1.300 career points with him.
Jack Criner, Shawn Iberg and Austin Redfern were mainstays on the MG 5 in the recent history of the program and will all be missed.
Coach Bollinger will turn to some kids with varsity experience as reserves last season as they will be needed to be able to play more minutes in 2016-17.
Six-foot-three senior Mike Sloan was an occasional starter last year but he has been on the varsity since his freshman year.
Josh Hahn, a 6-foot senior also got into varsity action last winter as did 5-foot-6 senior Jake Linnabary.
All three of those players will need to step into starting roles.
Junior Joey Linnabary, a 5-foot-10 guard, will also be called as will Courtlyn Latham, a 5-foot-7 sophomore.
Coach Bollinger will have some raw kids coming off the bench this winter and everyone wearing Orange and Blue will need to contribute.
“We finished second in our own tournament, losing by just six-points to Patoka in the final game,” said Coach Bollinger, a Greenville grad who has coached the past seven years in the Mulberry Grove school system at the grade school and high school. “We won a game at the Nokomis Regional last season before losing to the host team. I feel we will be very competitive in the conference but Patoka, St. Elmo-Brownstown, and Cowden-Herrick/Beecher City all have strong squads with familiar faces. I have a strong starting five with some height coming off the bench that is still a little raw but being molded.”
N20-25 Mulberry Grove Turkey Tournament J23 Nokomis


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