WOODLAWN
BY JACK BULLOCK
The end of an era happened just a few short months ago.
Walking off of the Carver Arena floor for the last time, head coach Shane Witzel didn't tell anyone yet, but it was going to be his final game coaching boy's high school basketball for Woodlawn.
Following an overtime loss to Liberty, Coach Witzel waited a few weeks before announcing his retirement from coaching.
In a coaching sense, this coach had nothing left to prove.
His resume speaks for itself with a career won-loss record of 443-149 in 20-seasons, Coach Witzel seized the opportunity that four-class basketball had given this program, taking the Cardinals to Peoria four times, winning the title in 2012 while receiving four different trophies (first, second, third and fourth).
New head coach Brian Gamber has worked along side Coach Witzel the past two seasons and is ready to begin his tenure.
A Mt. Vernon native with a fine basketball pedigree of his own, Gamber will have to replace a good group of starters (4) from the 29-5 fourth-place finishers from the season before.
Ross Owens, the ABV 1A “Player of the Year” has left to play at Missouri State University.
Brett Harris is now at Milikin University, Garrett Minks and Austin Ballard have also gone.
The one returning starter is Blake Wollerman, a 5-foot-8 senior guard, who was a major cog in the supersectional championship wheel from last winter.
He will now be a third-year starter for the Cardinals.
Two other players who saw significant playing time a year ago return; Trey Isaac and Jordan Hoppa.
Isaac is a junior while Hoppa is a senior.
According to Coach Gamber, Isaac has taken a leadership role for the team.
Both will have to leap forward to help keep Woodlawn on the upswing.
Look for some others to step up this season.
Zach Ashby, a 5-foot-10 senior, will play important minutes this season along with Kaden DeVore, a 6-foot junior.
Coach Gamber mentioned a few others with a chance to contribute.
Aaron Spangler, 5-foot-10 sophomore, along with 6-foot-1 junior Blake Fewkes, 5-foot-11 Jackson Bennett and freshman Blake McKay should all play a role in the new regime.
“We have a great group of kids that like to play and compete. We have a lot to replace from last year, but we have several kids that are very capable of doing that. Everyone is going to have to step up and take their game to the next level,” said Coach Gamber, who has head coaching experience for three seasons at Waltonville before becoming an assistant at Woodlawn.
2017-18 VARSITY SCHEDULE
N28-D2 Carlyle "Kaskaskian Classic" J13 Herrin

D8

Odin J15-20 MTC Tournament @ Woodlawn
D9 Christopher J23 @ Grayville
D12 Centralia Christ Our Rock Lutheran J27 Goreville
D15 @ Waltonville J30 @ Sesser-Valier
D19 @ Bluford Webber Township F2 @ Cisne
D26-29 Sesser-Valier Holiday Tournament F6 @ Wayne City
J5 @ Sandoval F9 Metro-East Lutheran
J6 Altamont F16 Cairo
J9 @ Flora F19-23 IHSA Regional TBD