By Kyle Daubs

A big challenge for Charleston – replacing points lost from its two leading scorers last season and its point guard.

Isaac Miller, now playing at Eastern Illinois, averaged 12.4 points to earn Second-Team All-Apollo honors for a 12-18 Trojans squad. 

Caleb Hurst, the team’s second leading scorer, led CHS in rebounding.

Senior point guard Cade Landrus, meanwhile, opted not to play.

Coach Brad Oakley, now in his second season, believes that the team could have a “balanced” team despite the losses.

After missing all of last season with an injury, senior Cory Spour returns as the team’s top guard, while senior Sam Bickford returns after starting as the team’s center. 

“Cory Spour back is going to be a huge addition,” said Oakley. “Sam Bickford played last year as a starter and provided an inside presence for us offensively and defensively. Both of those guys are great leaders with how they work and push their teammates. They both have set a good example for the younger players.”

Juniors Jackson Burgess and Jaksen Braun are likely contenders for starting spots. The rest of the lineup will feature inexperienced varsity players that will try and grow up quickly, just like everyone else sporting a basketball team in Illinois.

“I think our strength is that we have a lot of guys that can handle the ball and shoot,” said Oakley. “I don’t think teams are going to be able to focus on just one layer, so that helps. We will have balanced scoring.”

Oakley cited that height will not be their strong suit but believes their ability to handle the ball, in addition to their defensive play at practice could help the team contend in games. 

“Defensively, we have practiced a lot harder than last year,” said Oakley. “We are going to have to stay focused on that and not give up too many baskets. If we can rebound, I think our offensive balance will keep up competitive and we can be successful.”

Charleston tied Mattoon with a 3-9 record in the Apollo last year. Charleston opens up their season on Friday with Mount Zion, the only team to finish below them in the conference standings (1-11), and then returns to action on Saturday against Mahomet-Seymour. 

“My big thing is that I want the kids to improve each day and come out with the right attitude, spirit, and focus on how to prepare for games,” said Oakley. “The wins and losses will take care of itself. I don’t want to set a number goal because we could get to the middle of the season and exceed that and I don’t want us to be satisfied. I want to see us get better over the next six weeks and have it be something that they remember with how hard they played.”

All of Charleston’s games will be live-streamed and the link for viewing can be found on the Charleston athletics page. 

Varsity Roster

Seniors: Sam Bickford, Cory Spour

Juniors: Jaksen Braun, Jackson Burgess, Grady Smitley

Sophomores: William Applegate, Gio Barber, Cameron Dunklin, Caleb Oakley, David Triplett

Freshmen: Gavin Drake, Langdon King, Louis LeBron, Luke Landrus, Matt Misner, Adam Rudibaugh, Parker Pounds, Charlie Spoonhour, Brett Spour

2021 Varsity Schedule 

Friday2/5/2021Mt. ZionHome6:00 PM
Saturday2/6/2021MahometHome3:00 PM
Tuesday2/9/2021TaylorvilleAway6:00 PM
Friday2/12/2021TeutopolisAway5:15 PM
Saturday2/13/2021EffinghamAway1:00 PM
Tuesday2/16/2021LincolnHome6:00 PM
Friday2/19/2021MattoonAway5:15 PM
Tuesday2/23/2021Mt. ZionAway6:00 PM
Friday 2/26/2021LincolnAway6:00 PM
Saturday2/27/2021MattoonHome1:00 PM
Tuesday3/2/2021TaylorvilleHome6:00 PM
Friday 3/5/2021TeutopolisHome5:15 PM
Saturday3/6/2021Cerro GordoAway1:00 PM
Tuesday3/9/2021EffinghamHome5:15 PM
Wednesday3/10/2021AltamontHome6:00 PM
Friday3/12/2021MahometAway6:00 PM