GRANITE CITY — Granite City took steps to respectability last season in finishing 10-17 overall.
The Southwestern Conference wasn't so kind, however, to the Warriors, who dropped 13 of 14 league games.
Granite City peaked in December with a signature victory against Quincy in the Collinsville-Schnucks Holiday Classic. But it was downhill from there as the Warriors dropped 13 of 16.
With several experienced players returning, Granite City coach Steve Roustio hopes progress is forthcoming.
The Warriors got off to a good start Tuesday with a 69-31 victory over Nokomis in the Triad StoveTop Stuffing Classic as senior guard Perry Grimes scored 22 points and made six 3-pointers and senior guard Omar Walker chipped in with 13 points.
"We have seven seniors, and a few of them have extensive experience," Roustio said. "Grimes is shooting the ball very well in practice and it carried it into (Tuesday) night's game."
The 6-foot-1 Grimes averaged eight points a game last season and ranked second on the team with 25 3-pointers. Walker averaged 9.7 points and led Granite City with 30 3-pointers, but Roustio said Walker also is valuable for the ballhandling he provides.
The Warriors also return 6-3 senior Devin Narvaez, who averaged a team-leading 10.7 points and 5.8 rebounds as a junior.
"Narvaez and (6-2) sophomore D.J. Miller are two other players who can get to the rim and score as well as provide a 3-point shooting threat," Roustio said.
Other returning players include 6-4 senior Troy Garcia and 6-1 senior Eric Jacks. Garcia averaged 5.1 points and 1.6 rebounds; Jacks averaged 1.2 points in limited time.
Completing the Warriors' roster are: 5-7 senior George Wallace Jr.; 5-8 senior Doug Collins; 6-3 junior Blake Brown; 6-2 junior Quentin Jackson; 5-9 junior Damion Whitehead; 6-2 sophomore Terrance Glover; 5-10 sophomore Jalan Banks; 6-0 freshman Ron Allen; 6-3 freshman Trey Allen; and 5-10 freshman Kenny Berry.
"Our guys know that we must stay focused and play one game at a time, one possession at a time," Roustio said. "We also need to continue to buy into our player roles and share the ball. Getting the ball to the hot hand is huge for our offensive production."
But Roustio also said defensive execution is a must. The Warriors are athletic but not big, so defending the post again will be a key.
"Our team defense is the overall key to our success," Roustio said. "We have to continue throughout the season in taking pride in making consecutive stops as well as being able to score off our defensive pressure."
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2665.