After nearly four months the high school basketball season has reached its end. Over the next few weeks, all-conference, all-district, and all-state teams will be released, recognizing the area’s best young talent. I’ve also decided to recognize area roundballers for their outstanding seasons. Check out my "Hashtag All-Stars".
Lance Schaffer, senior – Fair Play: Schaffer probably could have been on each team listed, but because he can score at will he landed here. The 6-foot-3 senior was the epitome of getting buckets this year, averaging 28.5 points per game. Even more staggering was his consistency. Schaffer scored at least 19 points in each of the Hornets’ 29 games this season, including 14 games with at least 30 points, capped with a season-high 41 in a January win over Humansville. That’s just the tip of the ice berg. Schaffer also knocked down 76 3s on 46% shooting, tallied 91 steals and pulled down 11 rebounds a night.
Erik Durham, senior – Parkview: All season long Durham gave Vikings fans a treat each time he laced them up. The 6-foot-3 guard hit opponents up for 25.3 points a night, scoring 709 of Parkview’s 1,615 total points on the season. The most impressive thing about Durham was the method by which he got his points; the only word to describe it is efficient. Durham shot 56% from the field and 45% from deep and shot double-digit free throws in seven games this season. The guard, who is receiving Division 1 attention, also set a school-record when he lit up West Plains for 44 points on 17-of-22 shooting from the field.
Austin Gastineau, senior – Ava: The 5-foot-11 guard became an online sensation when he scored 55 points in a 101-96 3OT loss to Warsaw, including a 70 foot heave to force the third overtime period. Gastineau, who led the Bears with 21.9 ppg, also led Ava in rebounds, assists and steals.
Da’Quan Ervin, junior – Branson: The junior guard burst on the scene for the COC-Large champs scoring in bunches for the Pirates. The football standout scored 506 points (18.7 ppg) on the season for Branson. His size and quickness makes him extremely hard to guard off the dribble, leading to his team-high 165 free throw visits this season, where he shot 77%.
Chandler Myers, sophomore – Mount Vernon: To say that the 6-foot-4 forward is nifty around the rim would be an understatement. Myers scored 551 points for the ‘Neers (19 ppg), anchoring their inside scoring attack. Most impressively, Myers shot an unreal 70% from the field (233-of-331) in addition to his team-high 7.4 rebounds a night. I would hate to be a coach in the Big 8 for the next couple of years.
All-#icleanglass (Best Rebounders)
Cody Eidson, sophomore – Macks Creek: The 6-foot-6 forward pounded opposing teams around the area with his size, pulling down 12 boards a game. Eidson notched a season-high 21 boards in the Pirates 80-64 loss to Fair Play, a game in which he also scored 42 points. He also had no problem throwing block parties, averaging nearly four a night, including a season high 12 against Halfway as part of an 18-10-12 triple double.
Levi Hargrove, junior – Thayer: Hargrove may be a little undersized for a 4-man, but that doesn’t keep him from going after every rebound in sight. The 6-foot-2 Hargrove pulled in 13.1 a night for the Bobcats, including a trio of 25+ rebounding nights this season.
Evan Roberts, senior – Bolivar: The 6-foot-8 Roberts made a name for himself over the past four years for sending opposing players’ shots into the bleachers, however the Liberators big man also did a number on the glass. Roberts pulled down 9 boards a game for Bolivar, including tallying 34 boards total in back-to-back games against Class 4 state champ Republic and rival Marshfield. Roberts also blocked 93 shots on the season.
Austin Selby, senior – Reeds Spring: Reeds Spring may have had a down year, but there was nothing down about the performance of Selby. The 6-foot-5 forward logged double-doubles like it was his job, finishing the season with 17 on the strength of 16.1 points and 11.5 rebounds a night.
Jacob Caruso, sophomore – Mansfield: Caruso is one of the best players that you’ve never heard of. Although he can take over a game in multiple ways, his presence in the paint is eye opening. The 6-foot-5 Lion pulled down 9 boards a night for Mansfield, as part of 10 double-doubles on the season. Against Evan Roberts and Bolivar, Caruso put himself on the map with a 14-17 performance.
All-#handdownmandown (Best Shooters)
Austin Ruder, senior – Nixa: I nearly called it the “All-Ruder” team. The 6-foot-3 senior made a career of knocking down triples, many of which came from well behind the high school arc. Ruder polished off one of the most decorated careers the Ozarks has seen in recent years by scoring 550 points (19.6 ppg) including a school record 86 treys. The Missouri State signee finishes his career with school records in career points (1,722), threes in a season (86) and career (273) as well as winning 100 games in his four years.
Thatch Unruh, senior – Branson: It is probably illegal to be in the Unruh bloodline and not be able to stroke it from deep. Much like big brother Tate (currently starring at Northern Colorado) Thatch gave opposing defenses fits with his range; which starts when he steps in the gym. Unruh finished his senior season by pouring in 525 points (19.4 ppg) including 81 treys. Unruh also wasn’t afraid to take the big shot, knocking down a game-winning triple to top then No. 1 Nixa en route to a COC-Large championship.
Silas Smith, senior – Nevada: Like Ruder and Unruh, Smith probably could have been on any of the other teams as well, but his ability to shoot the basketball is among the best in the area. The 6-foot-4 guard scored 629 points (25.3 ppg) to lead the Tigers to the top seed in Class 4 – District 12. However, it was his Steve Nash-like percentages that are noteworthy. Smith shot 43% from 3 as well as 84% from the line. Smith scored a career-high 43 points against Central back in February.
Austin Petry, senior – Hillcrest: The 6-foot-1 guard was the calming factor for the undersized Hornets all year. Although he led Hillcrest in nearly every major statistical category except points, it was his efficiency from the field that I will most remember about him. Petry scored 11 points a night, but shot 53% from the field and 42% from deep.
Chance Rash, junior – Bolivar: The 6-foot-4 wing is high school’s version of Dirk Nowitzki. Rash is a big guard and has little trouble shooting over the smaller defenders that come his way. Unfortunately for opposing teams Rash shoots it like Dirk too. His 15.1 points a night came on 50% shooting from the field, 40% from three, and 83% from the line.
All-#idowhatiwant (Most Versatile)
Austin Essick, senior – Billings: Essick was a stat sheet stuffer, and triple-double waiting to happen for the Wildcats this season. The 6-foot guard averaged 21 points, 11.3 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 3 steals per game for 2012 Class 2 state champs. Essick registered his only triple-double of the season in an 88-75 win over a tough New Covenant team; Essick finished with 29 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists.
Jakob Neidig, senior – Ozark: He may be going to Missouri State to play soccer, but Neidig’s floor game had area colleges also inquiring about his services. Neidig kept the Tigers’ managers busy with his 8.4 points, 5.5 assists, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.4 steals a night.
Shane Williams, senior – Mount Vernon: Although Williams will play a different kind of ball at Nortwest Missouri State, the ‘Neers floor general can also get it done on the hardwood. The football standout tallied 12.8 points, 5.7 assists, and 4.4 rebounds for Skip Brock’s 22-7 Mount Vernon squad.
Chris Kendrix, junior – Willard: Nicely put, Kendrix is a freak of nature. There is nothing on the court he can’t do, whether it is guarding any of five positions, running the point for his team, or throwing down legendary tomahawk dunks. The 6-foot-4 standout averaged 20.4 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.4 steals a night, and is being courted by various D-1s.
Cody Brewer, junior – Everton: Everton was one of the area’s most fun teams to watch this season, and Brewer was a large reason why. The 6-foot guard averaged 19.4 points, 8 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 2 steals and a block a game for the 21-5 Wildcats. Brewer turned in one of the best stat lines of the season with his 24-10-10 triple-double in a 85-54 win over Golden City.
Chris Ward, Kickapoo: The “Dancing Bear” anchored a quarterfinal run for the Chiefs, including an 89-75 upset of Class 5 – District 11 top seed Nixa. Ward (15 ppg, 8 rpg) saved his best performance for last, dropping 28 points and 17 rebounds on Class 5’s third place Columbia Hickman.
Brett Krisk, Ozark: The 6-foot-6 senior has COC coaches breathing a sigh of relief now that he is finally done. Krisk (16.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg) has a knack for scoring in a variety of ways, be it face up jumpers, drop step hooks, or knocking down the occasional trey.
Dalton Fisher, Clever: Clever’s floor general reminded me a lot of former Creighton standout Nate Funk. Fisher (18 ppg, 4 rpg, 4 apg) did whatever he had to do to put his team in position to be successful. Most nights that required Fisher to create for himself and others.
Calvin Dryer, Buffalo: There weren’t many bright spots in the Bison’s 3-21 season, however Dryer gave Buffalo faithful a show each time out. The 6-foot wing dropped 20 points a night for Scott Miller’s Bison, including a stretch of 12 straight games with 20 or more points.
Brady Chastain, Billings: The 6-foot-1 wing has made a name for himself by knocking down shots. He hit 74 threes this season; including seven games in which he hit at least five triples. Chastain, who is the SWCL Player of the Year, averaged four rebounds and four assists in addition to his 19 points per game.
Bryce Dulin, junior – Nixa: The 6-foot-4 guard had a breakout season for the Eagles in the absence of Jalen Norman. Dulin is a nightmare on the defensive end. His length and athleticism allow him to guard any position on the floor, and on most nights he did. On consecutive nights at the Tournament of Champions Dulin went from guarding Bullitt East’s 6-foot-9 Kentucky signee Derek Willis, to occasionally being asked to guard 6-foot-1 Florida signee Kasey Hill of Monteverde Academy.
Z Barr, junior – Willard: The football standout made a name for himself in Lamont Frazier’s first season by being all over the place defensively. On many nights Barr played as undersized 4-man, mixing it up inside despite giving away a few inches at times.
Tyler Bussell, senior – Kickapoo: Bussell was one of the area’s most selfless players, often sacrificing his offense to give more on the defensive end. The 6-foot-3 senior was a large part of Kickapoo’s quarterfinal run. In a three game stretch Bussell was able to slow down Unruh, Ruder and Kendrix, leading to Kickapoo wins.
Niko Danding, senior – Eminence: What the 5-foot-6 guard gave up in height, he made up for in heart. The Redwings Class 1 state championship run came largely on Danding’s ability to pressure the ball. In Eminence’s upset win over Drexel Danding put the clamps on the Bobcats’ Trevor Cooley, holding him to just nine points and eight turnovers in Eminence’s 65-64 overtime win.
Dylan Edwards, senior – Strafford: The 6-foot-2 forward was as scrappy as they come in the post, despite usually being undersize. His hustle and heart helped push the Indians into the Class 3 quarterfinals.
All-#babyfacedassassin (Best Freshmen)
Marcus Gorman, Rogersville: If you’re a fan of a COC-Small team you’re going to learn to hate this name. Gorman, the son of Rogersville coach Rod, is as heady of a point guard as you’ll find. His 7.5 points, 4.6 assists and 40% shooting from deep will only get better next year. Assassin
Christian Brown, Spokane: Much like Gorman, Brown also played his freshman year under his dad (former Spokane head coach Larry). Christian, a 6-foot guard, can shoot it, or take you off the dribble. The SWCL honorable mention guard will take on a bigger scoring role next season with the losses of Hunter Bishop and Eric Bowman.
Ben Weinreis, Ash Grove: The second team All-Mid-Lakes selection impressed throughout his first year of varsity basketball. The 6-foot-1 wing is extremely versatile, and doesn’t shy away in big moments (see Greenwood game).
Johnny Lewis, Osceola: The 6-foot forward was a large part of the Indians 20-6 season, averaging 9.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and a block a night despite being grossly undersized.
Hunter Dame, Conway: The 5-foot-11 guard wasn’t scared of the lights at all in his inaugural campaign for the Bears. Dame scored 11.5 points a game for Adam Thornhill’s 13-12 Conway squad, scoring in double figures in 16 games.