SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The Evangel Valor Men’s basketball team made a whole lot of noise last season.

“It’s definitely an honor,” Evangel senior Josh Pritchett said at Heart of America basketball media day. “Playing Evangel is definitely something that’s been beneficial to me.”

It started with a 20-win regular season.

That led to the Valor winning its first Heart of America Tournament game in seven years.

The Valor made their first NAIA Tournament appearance since 2015.

“It was something that was really important to us throughout the season,” Pritchett said. “Just trying to do our best and make it as far as we can and being able to make it down to nationals was really a big deal for us and it was a fun and good time.”

Now, the Valor aims to make more noise in its final season in the Heart Conference. In the preseason conference poll released Wednesday, Evangel was picked to finish in a tie for second alongside MidAmerica Nazarene.

“You got to be there every night, every day for practice, just getting better and staying in it,” Pritchett said. “You got to stay focused. And I mean, the Heart is a very tough conference and just having all those high level teams to play against is just you can’t take a night off ever.”

Evangel returns three of its five primary starters from last season.

Including Josh Pritchett, a senior from Rolla, who was second on the team with an average of more than 13 points per game last season.

“Josh being one of the longest tenured guys on the team, I kind of understands how it how everything works, what the expectations are,” Valor head coach Bert Capel said. “He’s he’s done a good job this year and we we anticipate he’ll do that with the whole year.”

The Valor will also have another year of familiarity with their head coach. Bert Capel is back for his second season.

“We weren’t really sure what the expectations were,” Capel said. “And then kind of as the season goes along, we felt like we were really gelling together and playing well and it was just a matter of maybe keeping that going the whole year.”

Both Capel and the Valor are hoping the experience and the hunger mean more noise at Ashcroft this winter

“I just remember and I tell the guys to, I just remember how it was well when I was, when I played here, the excitement that that the school and the basketball had,” Capel said. “And I want them to experience the same thing. We got a lot of returners and hoping that the experience of of postseason play and playing tough games and playing games on the road will help us this upcoming season.

Evangel opens the season on October 28 in the Jeff Uphaus Memorial Tournament against Missouri Baptist.

The first home game will be November 3 against Harris-Stowe.