STEELEVILLE
BY JACK BULLOCK
The Steeleville Warriors put together a fine campaign last season.
Although their total non-conference record wasn't that sharp (12-9) they ran away with the Kaskaskia Division of the Cahokia Conference with a spotless 10-0 mark for a 22-9 2015-16 finish.
The finish was an exclamation point because they were ousted in the 1A Crab Orchard Regional title game by Woodlawn, 69-27.
Three starters are gone from that team, including ABV 1A Special Mention pick Nic Hagel and Trey Lazenby. Both of whom started for the Warriors team that won the consolation title at the Sesser-Valier Holiday Tournament
The good news is that Coach Bryce Bainter is still coaching this team, as he and his staff have done quality work with this program that is on the upswing.
He has a few good ones remaining from that team a year ago that also grabbed third place hardware at both the Trico and Sparta tournaments.
Returning starters include Dusty Sutton, a 5-foot-8 senior guard who scored 7.2 points per game last season for the Warriors.
RJ Smith, a 6-foot-3 senior forward, also added some numbers to the book (7.9 p.p.g.).
Both of those seniors will need to lead the younger players and also pick up some of the scoring slack left by the absence of Hagel (19.4 p.p.g.).
Sophomore Owen Gross really stepped up in the second half of the season for Steeleville and this 6-foot-1 guard/forward will likely to continue his improvement the next three years.
Coach Bainter also mentioned Reid Frederking, a 6-foot-4 senior (2.4 p.p.g.), and 5-foot-11 senior Andrew Grafton (4.8 p.p.g.) as potential starters.
Three juniors who will likely help out the starters include 6-foot-3 forward Eli Wittenborn, 6-foot-6 forward Nic Ebers and 6-foot-6 junior Noah Valleroy.
Six-foot sophomore Bradley Mevert will also help when needed.
“Last year we won the Conference and were probably the favorite going into the season. This season I think it is VERY wide open in the conference. I honestly believe that about five of the six teams in the conference have a chance to win it. Every year I have been here I could pick probably the two best teams in the conference but this year I don't think you will be able to do that. I would say with the teams in our area that Okawville and Chester are the best teams that we will go against. We may see some teams of that caliber at a tournament but nothing guaranteed,” said Coach Bainter. “We will have five players on the roster between 6-3 and 6-6, so hopefully we will control the glass and that size will help on the defensive end. I don't know if we will have the offensive fire power we had last year so it would be best for us if we keep the games in the 50's and below. Last year if a team scored in the 60's I thought we still had a chance to win but I don't know if that will be the case this year.”
2017-18 VARSITY SCHEDULE
N27-D2 Trico Pioneer Invitational Tournament J23 @ Valmeyer

D4

Valmeyer J26 New Athens
D5 Red Bud J27 Pinckneyville Showcase
D8 Marissa-Coulterville J30 @ Marissa-Coulterville
D12 @ Dupo F2 Dupo
D15 @ Okawville F3 Sparta
D26-30 Sesser-Valier Holiday Tournament F6 @ Lebanon
J5 Lebanon F9 @ Campbell Hill Trico
J9 @ Red Bud F16 @ New Athens
J16-20 Sparta Mid-Winter Classic F19-23 IHSA Regional TBD