Each of the six area varsity boys basketball teams produced winning records in 2013-14, creating ample competition for spots on the 2014 Morris Daily Herald All-Area team.
Brennen Shetina, Coal City
The area’s leader in assists with 138, Shetina averaged 13.0 points per game while shooting 44.9 percent from the field, getting 51 steals and averaging 3.3 rebounds per game. He was honorable mention All-State by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association, first-team Interstate Eight All-Conference and All-Tournament at Coal City, Plano and the I-8 tourney.
“Brennen had the ball in his hands 90 percent of the time for us,” Coal City coach Brad Boresi said. “He did a great job running our offense, distributing the ball to others and scoring for us if we needed him too. His tremendous work ethic developed him into one the of top players in the area. He was our most consistent player all season long. We knew exactly what we were going to get out of him every night.”
Conlan Callahan, Seneca
With area-high shooting percentages of 41.6 (67-for-161) from 3-point land and 86.7 (78-for-90) from the free-throw line, Callahan scored 14.1 PPG, to which he added 159 rebounds, 78 assists and 46 steals. The Morris Daily Herald Player of the Year was second-team IBCA All-State, All-Tournament at Seneca and Plano and first-team All-Conference in the I-8.
“He is a four-year starter with deadly accuracy from beyond the arc,” Seneca coach Russell Witte said. “Finished his career sixth on the all-time scoring list at SHS, which is a huge accomplishment considering some of the players that have been here.”
Austin Patterson, Morris
Patterson’s 95 complete 3-pointers, in 244 attempts, were the main reason he scored a Morris-high 15.6 PPG, though he was also 54-for-67 at the free-throw line. Patterson was also the Redskins’ leading rebounder (5.8 per game), had 41 assists and 27 steals, was a unanimous All-Conference pick in the Northern Illinois Big 12 East and was All-Tournament at Coal City and Plano.
“He can flat-out shoot the basketball,” Morris coach Joe Blumberg said, “and he led us in rebounding too. Others on our schedule are aware of his perimeter shooting, and we started to see more junk defenses on him as the year progressed.”
Jack Clausel, Newark
Clausel led the area in scoring, averaging 17.2 PPG, and did so as a 52.7 percent shooter from the field (195-for-370) and a 72.3 percent shooter from the free-throw line (73-for-101). He totaled 208 rebounds, 39 assists, 23 steals and 34 blocks, was a unanimous All-Conference selection in the Little Ten, was All-Tournament at Plano and was special mention IBCA All-State.
Nick Peters, Coal City
The area’s leading rebounder (11.4 per game), shot-blocker (66) and thief (69 steals), Peters finished second in scoring (16.3 PPG), field-goal percentage (54.8; 170-for-310) and assists (111). He was All-Conference in the Interstate Eight and All-Tournament at Coal City, Plano and the conference tourney.
“He played on the varsity all four years of his high school career,” Boresi said. “He joined a small group of Coal City basketball players when he scored his 1,000th point at the Plano Christmas Classic against Newark.”
Carter Gallick, Seneca
Seneca’s second-leading scorer at 10.1 PPG, Gallick made nearly 37 percent (61-of-165) of his 3-point attempts and nearly 73 percent (51-of-70) of his free throws. He totaled 55 rebounds, 69 assists and 30 steals, was first-team All-Conference in the I-8 and was All-Tournament at Seneca and the conference tourney.
“Carter really started to play some good basketball the second half of the season. He had unlimited range, and when he was hitting, we usually would roll,” Witte said. “He is a great role model for all young kids as to what hard work can accomplish on and off the court.”
Alex Bott, Seneca
A 50 percent shooter (100-for-200) from the field and an over 70 percent shooter (71-for-101 from the line, Bott scored 9.7 PPG and added 89 rebounds, 71 assists and 41 steals. He was named fourth-team All-State by the IBCA, second-team All-Conference in the I-8 and All-Tournament at Plano and the conference tourney.
“Alex was one of our more versatile players as he could shoot from the perimeter and get to the rim at will,” Witte said. “He really developed one of the better jump shots off the dribble in the area. When teams tried to take away option one and option two, Alex would step in and take control of the game.”
Joe Butler, Minooka
Minooka’s leader in scoring (10.1 PPG) and rebounding (6.7 per game), Butler was a first-team All-Conference selection in the Southwest Prairie. He also contributed averages of around two assists and two steals per game.
“Joe led our team in points and rebounds,” Minooka coach Scott Tanaka said. “In addition, Joe was always asked to defend the opponents’ leading scorer. Joe was always able to limit the production of our opponents’ leading scorer.”
Adam Alexander, Minooka
Alexander gave Minooka a second double-digit scoring average with right around 10 PPG. The first-team All-Conference pick in the Southwest Prairie also grabbed 4.7 rebounds per game.
“Adam is a big reason for our success the past two seasons,” Tanaka said. “He led our team in blocks and did an excellent job handling the basketball and leading our team. He was a senior captain this past year.”
Kyle Robison, GSW
Nobody with Robison’s volume of shots matched his field-goal percentage of 56.7. The Panthers’ MVP and first-team All-Conference selection in the River Valley was fifth in the area in scoring (13.4 PPG) and second in rebounding (8.6 per game).
“Hardest-working kid I’ve coached in my nine years as a head basketball coach,” Gardner-South Wilmington coach Chris Gibson said. “Outstanding leader. Great kid.”
Sam Allen, Morris
Morris voted Allen its MVP, and he won its Assist Award with 76. An honorable mention All-Conference pick in the NIB12 East, Allen scored 3.4 PPG while making over 77 percent (27-of-35) of his free throws and totaling 36 steals.
“There’s not a statistical category where ‘Sambo’s numbers are eye-popping,” Blumberg said, “but he was our glue guy. He ran our offense. He was our best perimeter defender. He played extremely hard every drill of every practice, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard a negative word from the kid. Ever.”
Jake Walker, Morris
The Redskins’ second-leading provider of points (9.4 PPG) and assists (68), Walker was a 35.2 percent (44-for-125) shooter from 3-point land. The honorable mention All-Conference selection in the NIB12 East and All-Tournament pick at Plano finished with 52 rebounds, 68 assists and 23 steals.
“We felt that he needed to immediately step up and score from the perimeter and help replace the losses of [Jason] Matteson, [Jake] Hogan and [Ben] Ortiz. He did just that,” Blumberg said. “He can score off the dribble and knocked down some huge 3s throughout the season. He’s stocky, strong and deceptively quick.”
Evan Bjelland, Morris
The Redskins’ third-leading scorer at 8.3 PPG, Bjelland contributed 83 rebounds, 62 assists and 24 steals to their cause. He was honorable mention All-Conference in the NIB12 East and All-Tournament at Coal City.
“When he explosively attacks north and south, no one on our team is more dangerous with the basketball than Evan,” Blumberg said. “He can finish around the rim and finds open teammates on the perimeter.”
Neal Tyrell, Minooka
Tyrell was named Minooka’s Mr. Indian and Toughest Indian at its awards banquet, which would seem to be honors befitting someone who took 18 charges on the season. He averaged around 9 PPG.
“Neal was instrumental in our 11-5 stretch finishing the season,” Tanaka said. “He was a catalyst with his outside shooting and great decision making. In addition, he was the first one taking charges and diving after loose balls”
Mark Geers, Minooka
Geers had averages of 7.4 points and around four rebounds per game this season.
“Mark was instrumental in our 11-5 stretch finishing the season. During that stretch, Mark carried our team offensively,” Tanaka said. “He is a very athletic and talented big man that presented match-up problems for our opponents.”
Coal City: Senior forward Lane Cowherd, who shot an area-best 62.2 percent (112-for-180) from the field, scored 9.7 PPG and totaled 123 rebounds. “Fans might not have noticed the work that Lane did for us this season, but I guarantee you other coaches did,” Boresi said.
GSW: Senior forward Tristan Noonan, who averaged 11.7 points and 3.2 rebounds per game and was honorable mention All-Conference in the River Valley. “Tristan was the guy that took the big shot when we needed a bucket,” Gibson said. ... Junior center Blake Marks, who averaged 9.0 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. “Blake averaged 13.4 PPG in conference games, which was a huge reason why we were able to go from 2-10 in the RVC a year ago to 9-3 and second place in the league this year,” Gibson said.
Minooka: Senior guard/forward Jake Smith, who averaged 9.1 PPG in 17 games before an ankle injury cut his season short. “He was our leading scorer before his injury and is a main reason for our success these past two seasons,” Tanaka said. ... Freshman guard Jonny Butler, who averaged around four points and three rebounds per game. “Jonny was the floor leader of our basketball team,” Tanaka said.
Newark: Freshman guard Will Clausel, who scored 9.0 PPG and totaled 160 assists, 93 rebounds and 50 steals. ... Junior guard Matt Eike, who averaged 8.5 PPG and also had 94 rebounds, 68 assists and 40 steals.
Seneca: Senior forward Austin Applebee, who led the Irish in rebounds with 234, scored 8.1 PPG on 50.9 percent (86-for-169) and was second-team All-Conference in the I-8. “Our high flyer kept getting better and better as the year went on,” Witte said.