PIASA SOUTHWESTERN
BY JACK BULLOCK
The Piasa Southwestern Birds, which in itself is a cool handle, didn't fly very high last season.
Coach Jason Darr's club struggled with consistency and produced just a 15-16 overall mark, and just 3-6 in the South Central Conference.

Granted, the schedule was a bear by design with a significant upgrade in strength, but they still couldn't win the big games.

But that can all change this season as the Birds four returning starters back from a club that gave Breese Central a scare at the Wesclin 2A Regional semifinals before falling, 59-46. The game was tied at the half before the Cougars begin their run to Peoria.

The top scorer back from last winter is 6-foot-5 senior and three-year starter Collin Baumgartner, who punished opponents with a double-double average of 16 points and 10 rebounds.

He also finished the season with 77 blocked shots and he should reach 1,000-points early this season.

Six-foot junior guard Justin Bailey (11.0 p.p.g.) is a dead-eye from the perimeter, having hit 37 percent from the arc.

He torched SCC rival Litchfield last season in the Metro-East Thanksgiving Tournament with 40-points.
Caden Heyen, a 6-foot-3 junior, also returns after popping home a half dozen points a night while 6-foot-2 classmate Ben Lowis added seven points and six rebounds.

Coach Darr mentioned four other prospects for playing time for Southwestern.

Two seniors; 6-foot Dylan Green and 6-foot-2 Ben Gallaher along with two juniors; 6-foot Caleb Robinson and 6-foot-1 Brock Seymour will give the team some bench strength.

“Team chemistry will be huge for us early in the season. We have some talented players that can shoot the basketball,” said Coach Darr. “Our season success will hinge on how hard we hit the glass on both sides of the court. We have a great group of kids and a real chance to make some noise this season.”
2017-18 VARSITY SCHEDULE
N20-25 Metro-East Lutheran Turkey Tournament J12 Greenville

N28

Carrollton J15-20 Macoupin County Tournament
D5 @ Litchfield J23 @ Gillespie
D8 Carlinville J30 East Alton-Wood River
D12 Staunton F2 @ White Hall-North Greene
D15 Breese Mater Dei F6 @ Roxana
D19 Brussels F9 @ Vandalia
D26-29 State Farm Classic - Bloomington F13 Hillsboro
J5 @ Bunker Hill F16 @ Pana
J9 Jerseyville F19-23 IHSA Regional TBD