Photo by Bill Roseberry
Trace Gentry, a junior for the Roxana Shells, shields the ball from a Pinckneyville defender during the Class 2A East Alton-Wood River Sectional semifinals.
With three of the five Greater Alton area boys’ basketball teams corralling regional titles, it made for a memorable ‘14-15 campaign.
Below is a recap of the season:
ALTON (4A): The Alton Redbirds matched their best win total in 2014-15, going 27-5.
The Birds also won 27 games in ‘04-05, ‘05-06 and ‘06-07.
Alton found itself in a sectional final for the first time since 2004-05. AHS lost 48-36 to eventual state runner-up Normal Community in the Class 4A Pekin Sectional finals this season.
Alton was led by seniors, including starters Carlos Anderson (11.1 ppg) (2.7 apg) (2.1 spg), an SIUE recruit, Bryan Hudson (12.0 ppg) (7.2 rpg), Darrius Edwards (13.1 ppg) and Isaiah Thurmond (5.2 ppg). Seniors Lavonte Hobbs, Demonte’ Wigfall, Josh Lovings and Nigel Harris also contributed off the bench.
Sophomore Maurice Edwards (7.6 ppg) started, thrived and will look to be the key cog next season. Junior Marcus Latham and freshman Kevin Caldwell played sparingly and should contribute next year.
CM (3A): The CM Eagles won their first regional title in 22 seasons in 2014-15. CM beat Jersey 53-45 in the Class 3A Jersey Regional title tilt.
The Eagles (19-12) then ran into eventual 3A state runner-up Belleville Althoff, who bested them 79-54 in the Carbondale Sectional semis.
Things ran through 6-foot-8 senior and 1,000-point scorer Jakob Lowrance, bound for Central Missouri next season. Lowrance averaged 19.5 ppg and 9.7 rebounds, both team highs.
Fellow senior Zack Lehnen (6.3 ppg.) also contributed. Juniors Adam Hill (4.4 ppg.) and Brett Lane (6.8 ppg.) and freshman Jaquan Adams (8.6 ppg.) rounded out the starting lineup. Adams came on late in the season.
MARQUETTE (3A): After winning the Prairie State Conference title and earning the No. 1 seed in the 3A Jersey Regional, the Explorers (18-12) fell 39-26 to the host Panthers to open the playoffs.
Junior Shandon Boone, a transfer from CBC, sparked the Explorers as their leading scorer and a potent 3-point marksman.
Marquette will lose senior starters Max Goepel and Jacob Fischer, but return junior point guard Trey Aguirre, junior big man Ben Sebacher and freshman Reagan Snider who came off the bench.
Five wins by less than five points during the season highlighted Marquette’s knack for drama in ‘14-15.
ROXANA (2A): The Roxana Shells won an improbable Class 2A Southwestern Regional by beating the host Piasa Birds 56-53 in overtime.
Roxana (16-16) also beat Gillespie 57-47 in OT in the regional semifinals. The Shells lost to Pinckneyville 61-44 in the East Alton-Wood River Sectional semis to end their season.
Senior starter Randy Skiff (8.9 ppg) and senior bench player Shawn Porter graduate. Junior Trace Gentry (15.8 ppg) returns as the leading scorer, along with fellow starters sophomore Zach Golenor (9.9 ppg.) and juniors Chance Foss (7.9 ppg) and Blake Vandiver (4.0 ppg).
Freshman Jordan Hawkins (5.8 ppg) also contributed.
EA-WR (1A): The Oilers finished 12-18, but picked up a win in the 2A Southwestern Regional, besting Carlinville 47-46 on a Blake Marks’ free throw with no time remaining.
Marks, a junior, averaged a team-best 19.3 ppg. EA-WR will say goodbye to 1,000-point scorer and senior Mike Stimac (19.2 ppg), as well as seniors Dillon Buck (6.7), Zac Butkovich (4.8) and Nic Daily (3.4), who all started.