EUREKA – Not since the 2013-14 campaign has Eureka enjoyed a winning season. They nearly did last year, one that finished 12-13 and ended with a 48-44 defeat to regional host El Paso-Gridley.
“I feel the boys are confident with their play,” said Hornets’ coach Tim Meiss. “We were competitive all of last year. We return a lot of nice players. It’s a good group.”
Back in the fold are two senior regulars on the frontline in 6-foot-7 Keegan Zimmerman (11.9 points per game) and 6-2 Alex Brittain. While Zimmerman can make the three-ball, as he sank 33 a season ago, he could pose problems for the opposition in the lane because of his height and length.
“It’ll be interesting. He’s come a long ways since last year,” commented Meiss, who enters his 34th season at Eureka with a 516-350 record. “He has expanded his game.”
As a team, the Hornets averaged 50.5 ppg.
According to Meiss, a pair of senior guards in 6-2 Adam Anderson and Brady Krile will be in the starting five, while one spot is open.
Defensively, the Hornets permitted 50.3 points per contest.
“I think so,” said Meiss when asked if the defense can keep them in games. “We have a lot of good athletes. I think it’s exciting.”
He added due to the length they possess, the Hornets may implement a halfcourt trap.
Of the 14 players on the varsity roster, five are of the underclass variety, including four sophomores.
According to Meiss, one or two of those could be contributors.
“I do. They’ve been playing really well. It’ll be interesting to see,” said the veteran coach, who enters his 42nd season on a prep sideline with an overall record of 617-455.
Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley (25-4, 12-1) is the reigning Heart of Illinois Conference champion and with four of five starters back and nine of the top 10 appears to be the team to beat again.
“I think they’re above everyone else,” commented Meiss of the Falcons. “They were conference champs and second in the (McLean Co.) tournament.”
The Hornets will look to improve from a share of fifth.
“I think we can finish in the top half,” Meiss said.
Blue Ridge’s departure to the Little Okaw Valley Conference means there will be 12 HOIC games instead of 13.
Eureka tips off today at 5 p.m. against Tri-Point in the GCMS Invitational. The rest of the schedule appears below (all non-tournament varsity games will tip @ 7 p.m. unless noted):
Wednesday: versus Le Roy in the GCMS Invite
Friday: vs. Warrensburg-Latham, 6:30 p.m. in the GCMS Invite
Saturday: 4 or 5:30 p.m. game in the GCMS Invite
Nov. 27: vs. Peoria Christian
Nov. 30: vs. Central Catholic
Dec. 4: @ Lexington*
Dec. 7: @ Le Roy*
Dec. 11: vs. Tri-Valley*
Dec. 14: vs. Ridgeview*
Dec. 18: @ Roanoke-Benson
Dec. 21: vs. Prairie Central @ Fairbury
Dec. 22: vs. Watseka in Eureka College Shootout @ Reagan Athletic Complex, 6 p.m.
Dec. 27-29: Macomb-Western tourney
Jan. 4: @ EP-G*
Jan. 8: vs. Putnam County @ Granville
Jan. 12: vs. Brimfield
Jan. 15: vs. Deer Creek-Mackinaw*
Jan. 19 & 21-26: McLean Co. tourney
Jan. 29: @ Tremont*
Feb. 1: @ Fisher*
Feb. 5: vs. Heyworth*
Feb. 8; vs. GCMS*
Feb. 12: @ Fieldcrest*
Feb. 15: vs. Flanagan-Cornell*
Feb. 18-22: Regional
Notes: The Hornets were 15-12 in ’13-’14. The GCMS Invite is new to the schedule along with Brimfield. EP-G, Eureka, Fieldcrest, Le Roy and T-V all tied for fifth in the conference. Ridgeview (28-5) is the reigning McLean Co. tourney champ, while DCM (26-7) also surpassed 20 victories. A new rule for this season allows for a running clock to be triggered if one team is ahead by 30 points or more at the start of the fourth quarter.