It has been a few years in the making, but the Waltonville Spartans have the potential to get back into the hunt for a regional title this season.
Despite losing a couple of really good players and leaders, the ones coming back and the two that are coming into the program should all make an immediate difference, not only in the outcome but in the attitude.
Coach Tyler Mitchell will certainly miss Dylan Miller and Ryan Majewski.
Miller will be missed because of his all-around play and leadership.
As a point guard and a scorer, Miller topped 1,000-points for his career and was the top playmaker as he led the team in assists.
Majewski got a lot of his points the hard way and his defense and rebounding must be duplicated this season.
Three starters return from the 15-13 team that went 5-4 in the conference.
Six-foot-two senior forward Dalton Banach will take on more offensive responsibilities this year for Waltonville.
Tanner Spihlmann, a 6-foot-5 junior forward and 6-foot-1 junior Caleb Jourdan will also need to pick up their offensive numbers.
Two transfers; Zane Wilson from Sesser-Valier and Isaac McPhail from Christopher, were both major players for their respective teams last season and will make a difference for the Spartans.
That will likely be the starting five when Waltonville opens play at the Christopher Thanksgiving Tournament this week.
Cole Griffith is a 5-foot-10 senior and should be one of the first off the bench for Waltonville along with Jayon Malone, a 5-foot-10 sophomore.
Both played well of the bench in 2015-16.
“We have a ton of offensive talent and some really good athletes,” said Coach Mitchell, a Zeigler-Royalton graduate in his third season as head coach at Waltonville. “What I believe is going to separate us this year is our decision making and how tough we are on defense. Getting stops is obviously a huge part of the game. I think we will be able to score with the best of them but getting defensive stops and controlling the game on the defensive side of the floor will be the difference maker.
N20-25 Christopher Turkey Tournament J23 @ Zeigler-Royalton


Sandoval J26 OPEN DATE
D8 @ Centralia Christ Our Rock Lutheran J27 Pinckneyville "Showcase"
D12 Christopher J30 @ Odin
D15 Woodlawn F2 Grayville
D19 @ Marion Crab Orchard F6 Sesser-Valier
D26-29 Sesser-Valier Holiday Tournament F10 McLeansboro Hamilton County
J5 @ Bluford Webber Township F13 Cisne
J9 @ Okawville F16 @ Wayne City
J15-20 MTC Tournament @ Woodlawn F19-23 IHSA Regional TBD