Photo by Theo Tate
Ron Allen, Tra’ Allen, Kenny Berry, Raekwon Jackson and Darrion Flemons (from left) make up the Warriors’ senior class this winter.
A year ago, the Granite City Warriors started their season on a high note.
The Warriors captured the Stove Top Stuffing Thanksgiving Classic championship by finishing with a 3-1 record. Granite City was tied for first with two other teams in the five-team, round-robin tournament, but was awarded the title due to a tiebreaker.
“It was a nice way to start the season,” Granite City coach Steve Roustio said.
This year, the Warriors are setting their sights on winning the Stove Top Tournament again. They begin their season on Nov. 23 against Triad on Memorial Gymnasium, then they’ll travel to Taylorville on Nov. 24, play at Nokomis on Nov. 25 and wrap up tournament play on Nov. 28 with Civic Memorial at Nokomis.
“It’s going to be all predicated on how we bring it defensively,” Roustio said. “If we can guard every possession, I feel good about this tournament as far as what we’re bringing back in terms of players. I know that other teams have graduated some of the better players. It’s still going to be tough to play on the road. It’s kind of hard to say whether you’re favorited or not. I just believe that we can win that if we play defense and don't turn the ball over. We can get out of the gate 3-1 or 4-0 if we can take care of business defensively.”
The Warriors also are looking to finish with an outstanding season this winter. Last year, they finished 11-17 overall and 1-13 in Southwestern Conference play.
“I feel good about a lot of things,” said Roustio, who is in his eighth season as head coach. “I feel good about their attitude and I feel good about the fact that we have some good team chemistry. We have players who have been starters for three years. We were built for this year. Three years ago, we were looking forward to this year. We just have to hope and pray that we stay healthy and we don’t do anything to cause any self-destruction. We have to make people beat us. We can’t beat ourselves.”
The Warriors have five seniors, three of them were starters since their sophomore seasons. Kenny Berry, Tra’ Allen, Ron Allen, Raekwon Jackson and Darion Flemons make up the senior class.
Berry, who has been a starter since his sophomore year, is the team’s top returning scorer. Last year, he earned all-Southwestern Conference honors by averaging 17.3 points per game with 46 three-pointers.
Tra’ and Ron Allen also have been starters since their sophomore seasons. A year ago, Tra’ Allen averaged 8.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game and Ron Allen — who is coming off an outstanding season in football this fall — averaged 5.0 points per game.
Roustio said his team will also get some help from his large junior class.
“We’re carrying 10 juniors on our JV/varsity and we’ve got some pretty good supporting cast from our junior class,” the Granite City coach said. “Torrey Deal looks pretty good early on and Marquis Shaw has been playing pretty hard trying to mix it up with the varsity.”
The Warriors started their 2014-2015 season at 3-0 before losing 5 straight games and never got back to the .500 mark.
Still, Roustio was pleased with the way his team played. Out of the Warriors’ 17 losses, 8 of them were by 10 points or less.
“I wished it was a little bit better,” Roustio said. “It could have been a little bit better. Of course, there were some games that we won that we could have lost. So it could have been worse. The way you look at it is, ‘Were we competitive?’ Last year, we were as competitive as any year since I’ve been here.”
Granite City begins its SWC season on Dec. 4 at O’Fallon. Last year, the Warriors beat Belleville East for their only conference win after finishing 0-14 the year before.
Ron Allen 6-1 F,G
Tra' Allen 6-5 F,G
Kenny Berry 6-2 G,F
Darion Flemons 5-11 G,F
Reakwon Jackson 5-10 G,F
Torrey Deal 6-1 F,G
Malique Mason 6-0 G
Jake Roustio 6-0 F,G
Marquis Shaw 6-1 F
Nick Grote 6-6 F,C