Photo by Diane Cox
Pictured is the 2014-15 East Alton-Wood River boys' basketball team (front row, from left), Nic Daily, Dillon Buck, Justin Englar, Cody Blacklock, Zach Butkovich and Isaiah Mercer; (back row, from left) Luke Wells, Joel Biesk, Mike Stimac, Blake Marks and Zach Lafferty.
Kyle Duncan, the third-season head boys’ basketball coach at East Alton-Wood River, is approaching the winter schedule with optimism and eagerness.
Duncan said he hopes to improve a 22-36 record with his maturing squad, which has focused on conditioning and dedication. The Oilers were 11-18 in each of his first two seasons.
“Our varsity has got to be the hardest-working group of guys that I’ve coached so far,” Duncan said. “These guys have taken a lot of initiative to get extra work in whenever they can. I was seeing the guys out at the track after practice just running to work on conditioning.”
With four strong seniors returning in Mike Stimac, Nic Daily, Zach Butkovich and Dillon Buck and a three-year letter winner in junior Blake Marks, the Oilers look for being seen as more than a newcomer in the Prairie State Conference.
“The conference will be tough,” Duncan said. “Nokomis and Mount Olive will be teams that we will try to get an opportunity to go check out. I think we will be a competitive team this season, we just have to continue to keep putting the work in.”
Stimac, a 6-foot 3-inch forward who has averaged 19.5 points per game in recent years, will be the offensive focal point for the Oilers. But not to be left out are Marks, Buck and Butkovich. They have been working hard to boost the Oilers. Marks and Butkovich have represented the Oilers in the 3-point postseason competition, with Marks advancing on to the sectional level.
“I’ve been with these guys since they were freshmen,” Duncan said. “We’re able to take the time to perfect the small things instead of having to focus on the basics. Where we fall short being undersized comparatively, we make up for with speed.”
Improvement seems to be the motto for the Oilers. Duncan said helping athletes mature and gain experience is what EA-WR has had to focus on in all sports during recent years. EA-WR has had young squads and new talent on every playing field.
“We have some strong younger guys coming up that may see some varsity time throughout the season,” Duncan said. “We’re looking at sophomore Joel Beisk as being our sixth or seventh guy; he has some decent height and is showing some skill. Brandon Beasley, Luke Wells and Cody Blacklock are coming along. We have some freshmen that I think will prove to show some promise in the next couple years.”
The Oilers will kick off their season on Monday, Nov. 24, at the Metro-East Lutheran Turkey Tip-Off when they face the Freeburg Midgets. EA-WR won’t wait too long before facing rival Roxana. The Oilers battle the Shells at 8:30 Tuesday in the MELHS tourney.
EAST ALTON-WOOD RIVER OILERS BOYS BASKETBALL SCHEDULE
Nov. 24-26, 28-29 – Metro East Lutheran Tournament
Nov. 24 – Freeburg, 7 p.m.
Nov. 25 — Roxana, 8:30
Nov. 28-29 – Games TBA
Dec. 5 – vs. Carlinville, 7:30
Dec. 9 – vs. Staunton, 7:30
Dec. 12 – at Roxana, 7:30
Dec. 17 – at Brussels, 7:30
Dec. 26-27, 29-30 – Carlinville Tournament
Jan. 3 – at Nokomis*, 7:30
Jan. 6 – vs. Calhoun, 7:30
Jan. 9 – vs. Vandalia, 7:30
Jan. 12 – at Litchfield, 7:30
Jan. 16 – at Dupo, 7:45
Jan. 17, 19-24 – Litchfield Tournament
Jan. 30 – at Marquette*, 7:30
Jan. 31—vs. Bunker Hill*, 7:30
Feb. 3 – at Southwestern, 7:30
Feb. 10 – at Mount Olive*, 7:30
Feb. 17 – vs. Metro East Lutheran*, 7:30
Feb. 20 – at Greenville, 7:30
Feb. 21 – vs. Valmeyer, 7:30
* Denotes conference games
EA-WR OILERS BOYS’ BASKETBALL ROSTER
Coach: Kyle Duncan
Record last season: 11-18
Career record at school: 22-36 (2 years)
Zach Butkovich, 6-1 F
Nic Daily, 5-11 G
Mike Stimac, 6-3 C
Dillon Buck, 5-8 G
Austin Henry, 6-2 F
Blake Marks, 6-0 G
Cody Blacklock, 5-9 G
Brandon Beasley, 5-9 G
Jimmy Harbison, 5-5 G
Luke Wells, 5-10 G
Zane Butkovich, 5-8 G
Zach Lafferty, 5-8 G
Joel Beisk, 6-3 F-C
Jordan Schmidgall, 5-8 G
Donte Willaford, 5-7 G
Stimac, a 6-foot-3 senior center, should be the featured player again this season for the Oilers. He served as the team’s top scorer and rebounder last season, averaging double digits in both categories.
A 6-foot junior guard, Mark will give the Oilers a strong backcourt presence. Marks can supply scoring and ball-handling for the Oilers, who were 11-18 last season.