What a season it was for boys basketball. Four teams made the state playoffs, three won at least one game, two made the quarterfinals, and one made it all the way to the Final Four.
With such success around the county, naming top honors is extremely difficult. In the end, one player set himself apart by capping off his stellar career with a bang. Jordan Lyons of McIntosh repeats as Player of the Year. Lyons, a Furman signee, posted 19.3 points, 2.4 assists, and 2.5 rebounds a night, as the Chiefs made their deepest playoff run in school history. He picked up Region Player of the Year recognition, along with numerous All-State honors. On top of that, the four-year starter etched his name forever in the record books, finishing as the county’s all-time leading scorer with 2,351 career points.
Dishon Lowery of McIntosh is the Defensive Player of the Year. Lowery, a Wofford signee, posted 10.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks a game. Along with region honors, he was recognized by many as the top rebounder in all of AAAAA. The three-year starter finished his Chief days with 1,038 points and 1,027 rebounds, truly remarkable numbers on a team where he had to share the spotlight.
Just as tough as top player honors was selecting the top coach, but the Chiefs complete a sweep. Jason Eisele of McIntosh is Coach of the Year. Playing with a bullseye on their backs every night, Eisele led his Chiefs to a 29-3 record, including the first-ever trips to the Elite Eight and Final Four in program history. Along the way, his team also completed its second straight undefeated season in region play. Eisele was also honored with State Coach of the Year honors.
Special recognition does need to go to an excellent batch of coaches. Anthony McKissic, in his first year at the helm at Sandy Creek, led the Patriots to the Elite Eight. Andre Flynn, for the second year in a row coaching a nearly all new team, took Fayette County to the second round of state, including a massive road upset of Buford in the opening round. Tony Caruso led Our Lady of Mercy to the best season in school history, including 20-plus wins and a region runner-up finish.
A compelling Player of the Year case could be made for the other three players joining Lyons and Lowery on the All-County First Team, McIntosh’s Will Washington, Fayette County’s Noah Gurley, and Sandy Creek’s Christian Turner and Elias Harden.
Washington, a senior, was considered by many to be one of the best point guards in the state. Washington posted 13.8 points, 7.3 assists, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.5 steals to lead the high-octane Chief attack.
Gurley, a junior, won Region Player of the Year honors as he tallied 17 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 blocks for the Tigers.
Turner, a Gardner-Webb signee, was one of the most underrated players in the state, putting up 14.2 points, 6.5 assists, 5.9 rebounds, and 3.2 steals a night, while running the point for the Patriots.
Harden, a junior, led the county in scoring with 20.9 points a night, along with 5.8 rebounds.
The All-County Second Team is an excellent collection of players. It is composed of Sandy Creek’s Evan Jester, McIntosh’s Chase Walter, Starr’s Mill’s Zach Pina, Fayette County’s Jaylon Cheffin, Whitewater’s Victor Ayuk, and Our Lady of Mercy’s Cedric Labat.
Jester, a junior, posted 9.7 points and 8.6 rebounds a game.
Walter, a senior, tallied 8.2 points, most of them on thunderous dunks, and 7.6 rebounds.
Pina, a sophomore, led the Panthers with 15.5 points and 2.6 assists.
Cheffin, a senior, notched 13 points a night while shooting 40 percent on 3-pointers.
Ayuk, a senior, was a defensive standout for the Wildcats while also posting 10.6 points and 6.2 rebounds.
Labat, a senior, led the Bobcats with 19 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals.
A host of stellar players earn Honorable Mention recognition. Fayette County’s honorees are Austin Nesmith, Phillip Young, and Eric Williams. McIntosh’s honorees are Isaac Kellum and Braxton Shaw. Sandy Creek’s honorees are Javon Jackson, Keith Heard, and AJ Freeman. Starr’s Mill’s honorees are Jack Van Nimwegen and Drew Hudson. Whitewater’s honorees are Zach Yeager and Garrett Owen. Our Lady of Mercy’s honorees are Josh Hurst, Anthony Caruso, Charlie Feldner, George Haynes, Aaron Ushery, and Robert Chery.
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