New North Clay head coach Josh Zink, who is an alumni of the school, takes over a program that is entering into a two-year contract to coop with Clay City.

Last season, the first season for this school in the National Trail Conference, the Cardinals struggled with a 5-21 record and they didn't win a league game as the finished 0-8.

The Cardinals lost two starters from last season; seniors Brandon Repking and Bryce Walker. Both of them were starters for two years for former coach Ben Farleigh.

There are several players, including three starters, that return along with three varsity players that come in from Clay City that Coach Zink can now work with.

The hold overs from last year include Quincy Aldrich, a 5-foot-10 senior guard, and 6-foot junior Reese Blank.

Kyle McNelly is a 6-foot senior back after starting for the Cardinals.

Those three will be the focal point of building a solid foundation for this new coach to work with.

Six-foot Bryce Holkenbrink, also returns after starting some last season.

Sophomore 5-foot-7 Luke Fleener, 5-foot-10 sophomore Tyson Jones and 5-foot-9 sophomore Ian Bailey.

Aleon Rinehart, a 5-foot-7 senior, also returns.

Kaden Turner, a 6-foot junior transfer from Carterville, should help immediately according to Coach Zink.

Six-foot-two junior Nick Miller was a starter at Clay City a year ago and will be part of the mix.

Brandon Webber, also from Clay City, is a 5-foot-11 senior who has struggled coming back from a torn ACL. If healthy he will be a part of the equation.

Lane Holkenbrink, a 5-foot-7ophomore, 5-foot-11 sophomore Blake Noll from Clay City and 5-foot-11 junior Trey Smith add to the numbers that Coach Zink will have to work with.

Coach Zink will have some other underclassmen that will be a part of the rebuilding as this mentor is looking forward to the challenge of taking over the program.

“North Clay really had their glory days in the 80's, 90's, and the very early 2000's. Currently, our program has really only one direction to go and that is up. We look forward to winning our first conference game in the NTC. We not only want to win a game, but we want to be a competitive force in conference play. We feel like this year's team can be the team that is looked at in the future as the turning point for North Clay Basketball,”said Coach Zink. “These young men want to be good, and have put the time and effort in to becoming better and I think we will show that on the court this year. Our team is starting to understand what it takes to win. I couldn't ask for a better group of young men for my first year in my return to coaching at North Clay. It is a pleasure to be around this group, and I really respect the amount of time and dedication they have shown. We will feel like there are good things to come for North Clay Basketball and it starts with this.”

OUTLOOK – After the switch from the Midland Trail Conference to the National Trail Conference, the Cardinals didn't get any favors from any of the NTC clubs in the first tour of duty. Coach Zink has numbers to work with at least. He was correct in the statement of there being no place to go but up. It will take time to make a move but North Clay at least has the numbers to put things into motion.



Sandoval J9 Martinsville
D5 St. Elmo-Brownstown J16 @ Windsor-Stewardson-Strasburg
D8 @ Newton J19 Oblong
D9-16 Wayne City Holiday Tournament J22-27 NTC Tournament @ Altamont
D15 Altamont J30 Neoga
D19 @ Cisne F2 Dieterich
D26-28 Dieterich Holiday Tournament F10 LOVC/NTC Shootout @ Cumberland
J2 @ Effingham St. Anthony F13 Wayne City
J5 Cowden-Herrick-Beecher City F16 @ Farina South Central
J6 Effingham St. Anthony Shootout F19-23 IHSA Regional TBD