PINCKNEYVILLE
BY JACK BULLOCK
Disappointing finishes to seasons are always a great motivation for the kids returning.

The Pinckneyville Panthers 29-3 campaign came to an unexpected halt last March in the 2A Nashville Sectional as they lost to the hosts, 43-40.

A loss against a team that they had defeated twice during the regular season in 2016-17.

Again, motivation.

The 2017-18 Panthers look every bit as good as the previous version and ABV is sure that they will stay focused on the big prize of reaching Peoria.

Head coach Bob Waggoner has the talent back to make a run at the Final Four.

Having a ABV first team 2A selection back doesn't hurt matters, and Pinckneyville has just that in 6-foot-2 forward Grant Jausel.

This lefty shot a lot of teams out of the building last season and he is a tough match up defensively.

As a matter of fact, there are many Panthers that fit that mold.

Having an experienced point guard back helps matters and 5-foot-10 JC Moll returns for Coach Waggoner to run the offense.

Another backcourt standout from last season was Dawson Yates, a 6-foot-1 sophomore, who worked his was into the lineup.

Kyle Luke, a 6-foot-2 senior forward, and 6-foot-1 sophomore Devin Kitchen round out what looks like the top starting five in the ABV area.

However the reserve unit might be the difference maker, especially in the postseason.

Coach Waggoner has a key transfer in from Waltonville who will give Pinckneyville some added size and varsity basketball experience.

Six-foot-six senior Tanner Spihlmann was a starter for the Spartans last season and he will help out immensely in the frontcourt.Coach Waggoner listed five other players who will all have roles to fill with four of them being seniors with experience.

Five-foot-nine senior guard Kyle Kreger, 5-foot-11 senior Hunter Clark, 6-foot senior Tyler Rice and 6-foot-4 senior Dustin Bartinicki, along with 6-foot-2 junior Dylan Houghland all have ability to help out at any given time during this long season of tough games.

“Senior oriented team with a good mix of underclassmen, our overall depth will be our strength,” said Coach Waggoner, a former ABV 2A Coach of the Year and owner of a 238-73 record in 10 seasons at Pinckneyville. “We have 11 players that could start varsity. We have several players that have played varsity and should be ready for the challenges of a varsity season.”

OUTLOOK – After the finish of last season, look for these Panthers to take no prisoners in 2017-18. The schedule will be difficult and there are some really good teams that they will have to deal with, especially in the tournaments that they will play in. However this team's depth looks to be the key factor in separating them from the other contenders this season. ABV has no problem putting the bull-eye on the Panthers as they are the favorites to win the Carbondale 2A Supersectional in March and head to Peoria.

2017-18 VARSITY SCHEDULE
N21 West Frankfort J12 Carterville

N26-D2

Carlyle "Kaskaskian Classic" J15-20 Benton Invitational Tournament
D8 Sparta J26 @ Sparta
D9 St. Louis (MO.) MICDS "Shootout" J27 Pinckneyville "Panther Showcase"
D15 @ Du Quoin F2 O'Fallon (IL.) "Shootout"
D16 @ Herrin F3 Du Quoin
D22 Anna-Jonesboro F9 @ Anna-Jonesboro
D29-30 Duster Thomas "Hoops Classic" F10 Nashville
J5 @ Nashville F16 @ Carterville
J6 Vandalia F19-23 IHSA Regional TBD