WEST FRANKFORT
BY JACK BULLOCK
For West Frankfort, the trip through the time tunnel didn't turnout so great last winter.
For the 2015-16 season, the Redbirds were brought back to days of old for the postseason as they were bumped up to 3A.
Conjuring up memories of the old South Seven Conference, West Frankfort's regional tournament stay was short lived, losing to Salem at the 3A Salem Regional.
Like awaking from a bad nightmare, Coach Kevin Toney begins the 2016-17 season knowing that the Redbirds will be back to 2A for the postseason.
For the regular season, West Frankfort struggled with a young team but showed some flashes of quality, enough to build toward a new season that begins this week.
WF finished 7-20 overall last year, 0-10 in the tough Ohio Division of the Southern Illinois River-to-River Conference.
Immediately the Redbirds will have to replace three starters, including the top scorer from a year ago.
Senior guard Keegan Easley led WF with 14.1 points a game and was also the top assist man with just under two a game.
He was also the best perimeter defender, averaging nearly three steals a game.
Easley led the team from beyond the 3-point arc at the 54 percent clip.
Six-foot-three senior Chase McLaren inside presence, defensively and rebounding will be sorely missed.
Brett Reiger missed nearly all of his senior season with a knee injury and has also graduated.
Coach Toney has some kids returning who were part of the rebuilding last season.
Three starters are back with 5-foot-10 senior guard Noah Allen back for another season.
The two other returnees are forwards.
Six-foot-six senior Austin Glodich and 6-foot-4 junior Keagan Thrash.
Part-time starter Lucas Wolfe, a 5-foot-10 junior, will help the backcourt.
On down the list, Coach Toney talked about a sophomore group that return after getting used to the Max Morris Gymnasium experience as freshman.
C.J. Johnson, a 6-foot guard, along with 5-foot-11 Kyle Hammers, 6-foot Ryan Hopkins and 5-foot-11 Ryley House all looking for playing time.
The more experienced ones on the roster include 6-foot-4 junior Lucas Davis, 6-foot-5 junior Bradlee Croslin, 6-foot senior Jaryd Clark, 6-foot senior Brandon Beery, 5-foot-10 junior Jake Russell and 5-foot-11 senior Ethan Riddle.
Add the names Stanley Powell, a 6-foot-4 senior, and 6-foot-1 senior Andrew Sturgill to the roster.
Some of those kids were part of a winning junior varsity squad (10-8).
“I really feel like one of our biggest attributes will be our depth. If that's the case, that depth should make our practices are very competitive. Our players understand that every minute of practice will be important,” said Coach Toney.
2017-18 VARSITY SCHEDULE
N21 @ Pinckneyville J12 Metropolis Massac County

D1

@ Salem J13-20 West Frankfort Mid-Winter Classic
D2 @ Carterville J26 Harrisburg
D5 Eldorado J27 @ Anna-Jonesboro
D8 @ Harrisburg J30 Du Quoin
D15 Benton F2 @ Benton
D16 Goreville F9 @ Murphyboro
D26-28 Eldorado Holiday Tournament F10 Herrin
J2 Murphysboro F16 @ Metropolis Massac County
J5 @ Herrin F19-23 IHSA Regional TBD
J6 Sparta F26-M2 IHSA Sectional TBD