Hoops season is in the books. What better way to wrap things up then to start handing out the annual All-County honors.
It was another exciting season of basketball for the boys around Fayette County. Three teams (Starr's Mill, Whitewater, and Fayette County) reached the Sweet Sixteen in the state tournament. McIntosh spent time in the top ten of the rankings.
While the game is about team play, there are still plenty of individual honors to be handed out.
There were a number of special players around the county this season, but there was one obvious choice for Player of the Year, Philip Cofer of Whitewater. Cofer, a 6'8" junior, averaged 19.3 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game. Even as the focal point of opposing teams, Cofer still managed to impose his will on a nightly basis.
"Phil is such a dynamic player. He can change shots at the rim, rebound consistently, post up a smaller defender, or step out and knock down the three. He is a special player that does not come around very often," says Whitewater head man Jason Barnes. "Phil also matured as a vocal leader for us this season. As special as a player as he is, his character is even better"
It's not often that you see a player make such an immediate impact as the one made by Freshman of the Year Jordan Lyons of McIntosh. Lyons, along with fellow frosh Will Washington, led the Chiefs to a top ten ranking for much of the season. Lyons tallied an impressive 19.2 points, 3.3 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. He has a very bright future for the Chiefs.
"Jordan has worked extremely hard to get to where he is and has the motivation to continue to improve his game," says his head coach Jason Eisele. "He has excellent basketball IQ for a freshman. I am looking forward to working with him over the coming years."
While the other awards had clearcut winners, it wasn't so simple to pick the area's top coach. Several coaches got mentioned. McIntosh's Jason Eisele had a team led by two freshmen ranked in the top ten most of the season. Starr's Mill Brandon Hutchins led his Panthers to the state's Sweet Sixteen. Fayette County's Andre Flynn had one of his finest coaching performances, pushing a young Tiger squad with minimal experience into the Sweet Sixteen.
One team has to take the honors, but you can't just honor one man. There have to be two men named Coach of the Year, Jason Barnes and Noah Chalkley of Whitewater. Barnes, the head man for the Wildcats, coached the team to 18 wins their first ever region championship. It wasn't just that simple though. During the season, the team lost long time assistant coach Noah Chalkley to a heart attack. Coach Chalk had been part of Wildcats basketball since its inception. Rather than fold up, the team rededicated themselves and soared to new heights. The unquestioned highlight of the season came when the team won that region title in a tournament named in Chalk's honor.
The All-County first team is comprised of Cofer, Lyons, CJ Johnson, Darius Sharpe, and Will Anda.
Johnson, a junior from Fayette County, averaged 15 points, five rebounds, and three assists a night while shooting 80% on free throws. Johnson took over games whenever the Tigers needed him.
Sharpe, a senior from Whitewater, was the perfect compliment to Cofer, averaging 14.2 points per game while hitting 41% of his threes. Sharpe was clutch when they needed him most, winning games by getting to the hoop or making free throws.
Anda, a senior from Starr's Mill, did most of his work in intangibles. While he averaged 7.5 points, five assists, and two steals, his coach Brandon Hutchins said "he was the main reason for a lot of our success this season."
The All-County second team is made up of Dante' Sterling, Brandon Lindsey, Jeremiah Vrudny, Junaid Olusesi, and Will Washington.
Sterling, a junior at Fayette County, is quickly developing into a top player with a high ceiling. Sterling averaged 14 points and eight rebounds a game while shooting 37% in threes.
Lindsey, a junior at Sandy Creek, was a scorer for the Patriots who could get red hot and burnt up the opposition.
Vrudny, a junior at Starr's Mill, is one of the area's best two-way post players, averaging 11 points, six rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game.
Olusesi, a senior at Whitewater, was the third cog in the Wildcats electric offense, averaging 11 points and 6.8 rebounds a night.
Washington, the other half of McIntosh's fab freshman duo, picked up 10.4 points, 4.6 assists, and 2.5 steals a game.
There is still plenty of talent left deserving recognition. The Honorable Mentions, submitted by each head coach, are an impressive bunch in their own right.
Fayette County honors Clark Minnifield, Chaz Berry, Kelvin King, and Corey Williams.
McIntosh honors Joey Bolen and Robby Duff.
Sandy Creek honors Christian Turner.
Starr's Mill honors David Watson.
Whitewater honors David Bowler and Robbie Harlfinger.
Our Lady of Mercy honors Dylan Terrell and Chib Emefo.