EDWARDSVILLE - The SIUE Charter School Cougars worked hard the entire game in a defeat to Edwardsville on Wednesday. SIUE had good moments and played to the end under Coach Shawn Roundtree and continues to build its program.

Shawn RoundtreeEdwardsville High School head boys coach Dustin Battas spoke with the utmost respect about Coach Roundtree and what he is doing with the Cougars.

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"Shawn is a good man and he's a good mentor for those kids," Coach Battas said. "We weren't originally scheduled to play them and they did us a favor when Lutheran St. Charles had o cancel at the last minute. So we're very grateful to him, just for the opportunity to play them and coach Roundtree was excited to come here. He knows a lot of our guys, he's worked with a lot of our players over the years, being a big guy in our community.

"So it was a good match to see him and see his team and get them going in the right direction. They've already won some games this year. And I told some of his players they're lucky to have him and have a guy like him to mentor them and coach them and build that program up."

For the Cougars' part, SIUE played and worked hard throughout the game against Edwardsville and is headed in the right direction, Coach Roundtree believes.

"I feel great," Roundtree said. "The kids are doing a very good job. It's a big challenge for us, being two years into the program. So, as I told them in the locker room, we went from making 29 turnovers to making seven or 10 turnovers. We went from missing 19 free throws to missing seven free throws a game. So we're all working and doing much better."

The Cougars are still developing their program, such as a first- or second-year expansion team in a professional league. It's definitely a labor of love for Roundtree.

"Yes it is," Roundtree said. "And they're getting well, just got to keep working harder."

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Roundtree is also very optimistic about the future of the team and the program.

"Well, what I spoke to them was about three games and the (IHSA) regionals," Roundtree said. "We can do that. And so, with the young guys that we have, sophomores and freshmen, juniors, I think we'll be much stronger and much better next year."

For now, though, SIUE Charter is still trying to get its program established and heading in the right direction.

"Just trying to get established and allow the players to be accountable," Roundtree said. "And responsible."

"They're listening," Roundtree said. "So, each year, we're going to get better."

When asked about the team's future, Roundtree was very optimistic about what lies ahead for the Cougars.

"We'll be better next year," Roundtree said. "Again, we're looking to the playoffs. Three or four games and the playoffs, and we're regional champs. So, we have our eyes on being regional champs."

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