Following up 2015-16’s boys basketball season was a tall task, but this year’s campaign did just that. Three county teams made the state playoffs, and all three advanced to the second round. On top of that, two of the teams stayed in the top ten all season en route to joint appearances in the Final Four.
Choosing top honors was exceptionally difficult this season, leading to a pair of shared awards.
Noah Gurley of Fayette County and Evan Jester of Sandy Creek are Co-Players of the Year. Even as the focus of opposing defenses, the two stars were unstoppable all season as they pushed their teams to the Final Four. Gurley, a Furman signee, posted 19 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 blocks a night. Jester, a senior, countered with 19.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 1.8 steals. Both earned their respective Region Player of the Year trophies.
In a similar outcome, Andre Flynn of Fayette County and Anthony McKissic of Sandy Creek are Co-Coaches of the Year. Just as you couldn’t separate Gurley and Jester, the same goes for their coaches. Both squads came into the season with plenty of hype, and both backed it up. The bullseye was squarely on their backs all year, and they thrived on the pressure. They finished with identical 23-8 records and trips to the Final Four.
Among a tough field, Phillip Young of Fayette County is the Defensive Player of the Year. Young, a senior, averaged 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists, while locking down any player, guard or forward, that was unlucky enough to be his target.
The All-County First Team is made up of Austin Nesmith of Fayette County, Cole Guenther of McIntosh, KJ Wilkins of Sandy Creek, Drew Hudson of Starr’s Mill, and Josh Graham of Whitewater.
Nesmith, a senior point guard, powered the Tiger offense with 14 points and 6 assists a night. Guenther, a junior wing, notched 11.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks while shooting 43 percent on 3-pointers. Wilkins, a senior guard, posted 12.8 points, 3.2 assists, and 4.2 rebounds. Hudson, a junior, averaged 13.8 points and 8.1 rebounds a game, second only to Jester for most boards in the county. Graham, a junior forward, posted 16 points and 6 rebounds.
The All-County Second Team consists of Chaz Hardin of McIntosh, Jarred Godfrey of Sandy Creek, Nate Allison of Starr’s Mill, Zach Pina of Starr’s Mill, and Josh Anthony of Whitewater. Hardin, a junior, put up 12.5 points, 4.4 assists, and 2.3 steals. Godfrey, a junior, posted 11.7 points, 4.5 assists, and 4.5 rebounds. Allison, a sophomore, notched 12.5 points and 7.1 rebounds. Pina, a junior point guard, caught the eye of opposing defenses and coaches while tallying 12.3 points and creating for teammates. Anthony, a senior, tallied 9.9 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals.
A host of stellar players earn Honorable Mention recognition. Fayette County’s honorees are Josh Dupree, Kahmonnie Willis, and Jaylen Holloway. McIntosh’s honoree is Joseph Cummings. Sandy Creek’s honorees are TJ Bickerstaff, Kameron Miller, and Eric Williams. Starr’s Mill’s honorees are Kyle Evert and Nick Karli. Whitewater’s honoree is Josh Lanier. Our Lady of Mercy’s honorees are Robert Chery and George Haynes.
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