The Illinois Valley Central Grey Ghost varsity basketball team begins its season this week looking to repeat as North Central Illinois Conference-Lincoln Division champions.


The Illinois Valley Central Grey Ghost varsity basketball team begins its season this week looking to repeat as North Central Illinois Conference-Lincoln Division champions.

Last year, the Ghosts tied for first in the conference with an 8-2 record and an impressive 20-7 overall record.

Despite having great conference and non-conference success, the Ghosts fell to Peoria Manual, a team that finished second at State, in the regional round of the playoffs.

Last year’s senior stars Jacob Bjerk and Josh Parr will not be back to anchor the team, but this year’s squad still features a strong class of seniors and several key underclassmen who will help the Ghosts rise above a tough regional that includes Manual and Peoria Christian.

This year’s senior class is made up of captain Terrell Williams, who was a standout wide receiver on the varsity football team, captain Billy Seiler, who was the team’s leading scorer this past season and first team All-Conference the past two seasons; captain Jordan Parr, who was second team All-Conference last season; Justin Parr; Drew Furkin; and Tyler Smith.

Juniors Chris Martin, Nick Arnold and Drasen Johnson look to add their skills to the team and help out the veteran seniors while also becoming more acclimated to the pace of the varsity games.

Sophomores Alex Koch, who went to state for golf; and juniors Keegan Horack and Jared Johnson will also gain some valuable gametime experience.

When the Ghosts take the court, they generally tend to run a man-to-man defense that plays fast and with a lot of energy.

“We’re going to try to play at a fast pace,” head coach Jim Thornton said. “We’re a pretty athletic team.”

The goal for this year’s team is to win the regional title and repeat as conference champions.

But to take regionals, they will have to best the Manual Rams, which will not be an easy feat to accomplish, since the Rams generally bring a good team every year.

The team began practice earlier in the month and is ready to start the grueling season and get off on the right foot.

“In practice, we make a point of emphasis to play fast,” Thornton said. “Defensively, we work on fundamentals.”