The Red Bud boy's basketball program is now under new leadership.

CJ Cruser, a Nashville, Illinois native and former head coach at Waterloo H.S., takes over a program that hasn't posted more than single digit victories since 2011-12.

The Musketeers stumbled to an 11-18 mark last winter, bowing out of the regional against Waterloo Gibault.

Cruser was a successful assistant coach under Darin Lee at Nashville and he has a wealth of experience as both an assistant and as a head coach.

He is in charge of a program that is switching divisions in the Cahokia Conference as they go from the large school Mississippi Division to the Kaskaskia Division.

In horse racing terms, this is dubbed as “class drop” as they went from being the smallest of the large schools to now having the largest enrollment (371 students) of the schools in the small school division.

Coach Cruser has some talent to work with in his first season at the helm.

There are two returning starters, which is a good place to begin.

Six-foot senior point guard Griffin Ziebold 6-foot-4 senior guard/forward Alex Birchler

Both were on a playoff football squad this fall.

Six-foot-seven senior Shaye Carter wasn't eligible last season until the end of the season and he will be a “big” part of the line up this winter.

Caleb Reichmann is another 6-foot-7 post player that will start for the Musketeers

Red Bud will have more size up front with 6-foot-4 Cory Fithian and 6-foot-3 Alex Siever will help give this lineup even more height in the frontcourt.

Look for 5-foot-10 sophomore Jaden Birkner along with seniors 6-foot-1 Logan Cowell and 6-foot-2 Drew Kueker to man the backcourt.

Knowing this coach and his track record, look for immediate improvement in the early going of the season, which begins at the new look Trico/Murphysboro Tournament in the second week of the season.

“I feel as if we should be able to get over the hump of .500 this year. I feel as if we have quality players on the team this year. We will be a much better team in February than we will be in November due to the fact I did not have these guys in the summer with me. So we are behind in our own preparation,” said Coach Cruser. “Our point guard Griffin Ziebold will need to have a monster year in regards to handling pressure. Our “bigs” will improve and by the end of the year Reichmann and Carter should be able to score on most opponents with their 6-7 frames. We will need to make shots this year to avoid being zoned and teams trying to neutralize our height inside.”

OUTLOOK – Look for this team to turn some heads in the early going in the season. This coach has gotten the job done at every stop, so there is no reason to believe otherwise. The size up front will be a headache to most of the smaller schools in this division. But as the 2A postseason is concerned they will need to be better by February, which is the goal for eveyone.

N27-D2 Trico Pioneer Invitational Tournament J12 @ Lebanon


@ Steeleville J15-20 Sparta
D9 @ Dupo J23 @ New Athens
D12 @ East Alton-Wood River J27 Waterloo Gibault
D16 Valmeyer J30 Lebanon
D19 Trenton Wesclin F6 Marissa-Coulterville
D22 @ Freeburg F9 Okawville
J2 @ Valmeyer F13 @ New Athens
J6 @ Marissa-Coulterville F16 Dupo
J9 Steeleville F19-23 IHSA Regional TBD