WALTONVILLE
BY JACK BULLOCK
The Waltonville Spartans had a senior group of players who looked poised to make a splash in the postseason last February.

As the fourth-seed in their sub-sectional, the Spartans were one of the teams to beat in a loaded Wayne City Regional.

However nemesis and long time rival Woodlawn came out firing in their semifinal tilt and took a commanding lead.

Rallying took too much out of the Spartans starting five, as they fell to Woodlawn, 43-42, ending the careers of three senior starters and was the final game of Coach Tyler Mitchell's tenure at the school.

Not only is there a new coach in place this season but there will also be five new faces in the starting lineup.

Four seniors graduated last season and a fifth starter transferred to Pinckneyville.

So new head coach Anthony Lowery is nearly starting from scratch, with nearly zero varsity experience returning.

In fact, in the Woodlawn loss, all five starters played the entire 32 minutes in the season ending defeat.

Zane Wilson, Isaac McPhail, Dalton Banach graduated and Travis Sphilmann and Caleb Jourdan transferred.

So it is rebuilding for the Spartans.

Coach Lowery is a former Waltonville player, having graduated in 2006.

So he knows the community as he returns home with a great opportunity at a pretty good basketball program that has been more than competitive in its history.

The starters for Waltonville when the season begins will be McKendal Malone, a 5-foot-11 junior guard, who played some varsity minutes and started on the junior varsity.

In the backcourt will also be Gage Berkemeier, a 6-foot senior, along with 5-foot-11 sophomore Reagan Newell. Up front could be the strength of the club as 6-foot-6 junior Zack Webb will be in the middle for the Spartans.

Six-foot-three sophomore Dillon Banach will also give Waltonville some size.

The reserves will also be important for the Spartans.

Six-foot senior Cody Shelton, 6-foot-2 Jaxon Haley and 6-foot-1 junior Jacob Tucker will all see minutes, especially early on.

With nearly zero varsity experience returning this will be a extremely young team that relies on a number of new faces,” said Coach Lowery. “Talented point guard Jayon Malone looks to lead the young Spartan team into battle this year with a new coach and a new system. We will look to make up for what we lack in experience by committing to defense and rebounding.”

OUTLOOK – Having a bench, or even more importantly having confidence in your bench, will be a key for the Spartans this season. Also having some size in middle should help. This young coach will know much more about how things are going to shape up in the first week of the season. This program has been pretty good over the years and they won 19-games last year. ABV has no doubts about them winning more games than they will lose.

2017-18 VARSITY SCHEDULE
N20-25 Christopher Turkey Tournament J23 @ Zeigler-Royalton

D5

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