Season preview: Eisenhower Panthers

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Eisenhower seniors Quylan Young (left) and Yansyn Taylor step into leadership roles this season for the Panthers. Eisenhower seniors Quylan Young (left) and Yansyn Taylor step into leadership roles this season for the Panthers.

Don't tell Eisenhower it's a rebuilding year. The Panthers lost senior stars Stephon Bobbitt, Stefon Jarrett and Julian Jones, yes, but high-scoring guards Yansyn Taylor and Quylan Young are back along with an array of interesting newcomers to the rotation. Eisenhower was 23-9 last season, equaling the program's win total in the five years prior to coach Rodney Walker's arrival in 2014-15. This season they've already shown they're ready to make waves again, with wins over Champaign Central and Peoria High in the Decatur Turkey Tournament. One of the secrets to their early-season success? A major upgrade in the team's outside shooting ability, with snipers like RJ Walker and Keon Jones entering the rotation.

2016-17 record: 23-9, lost to Mt. Zion in 3A semifinals
Head coach: Rodney Walker (4th year at MacArthur, 44-47) (.484)
Key returners: Wing: 6-4 Yansyn Taylor, 6-2 Keon Jones, 6-3 KJ Taliferro, 6-2 Wesley Wilson
                          Guard: 5-11 Quylan Young, 5-9 Cam Rowe
Key additions: 6-1 RJ Walker (freshman)
Key question: Can the Panthers overcome a slight decline in height from last year's squad and continue the program's upward trajectory? (9 wins, 12 wins, 23 wins)
Key games: Capital City Showcase vs. Southeast 12/2, vs. Lanphier 12/8, Collinsville Tournament 12/28-12/30, Non-City Tournament 1/12-1/20 (includes vs. MacArthur 1/12), @ MacArthur 2/20

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