Time to hand out postseason awards
Every year the all-league teams come out. Sometimes I’m left scratching my head. Maybe it’s the world of fantasy sports we live in. Everyone, if they so choose, can build their own team. It’s like being an arm-chair quarterback with a little general manager flare thrown in.
So, I took it upon myself to do this. Creating an all-county boys and girls basketball team. Classifcations were thrown out, and all-star rules were not followed — not every team had a player on the team. There was some debate with myself — oh yes, it got heated at times — so there is an honorable mention team.
First, let’s start with the girls all-county team.
By far this was the easiest of the two.
With a clear-cut Player of the Year, Keesha Sarman, it made most of the other selections somewhat easier. A lot like the opening pargraph of a story. Once you get that, the rest sort of falls into placeinto place. Of course there are always going to be “snubs.”
La Grande created the biggest dilemma — choosing between sophomore Avery Albrecht or Kylin Collman. Albrecht just edged out her teammate with her play being a little more consistent.
Coach of the Year was a debate down to the wire. In the end, I went with Tigers head coach Doug Girdner. It doesn’t help that I’m not a huge fan of two people sharing an award —which did happen later. The award came down to the wire with another coach who had a team finish second in state last season as well — Rhondie Johansen.
In the end, Girdner came back with the least, and still made it back to the final eight. In the end, Union having Sarman back to lead the team kept the Bobcats’ coach from taking the honor.
Easy first-team selections were seniors Cove’s Mikayla Murchison and Powder Valley’s Alexandra Colton. Without those two players, their respective teams don’t advance to the state play-in round.
Hayley Riggs of Enterprise is one not many Union county basketball fans may have heard of. But, she was the biggest threat for Enterprise this season. The Outlaws had a chance to make a run before the season started, but lost two players head coach Mike Crawford would have had in the starting lineup, and would have helped Enterprise compete with the top of the Blue Mountain Conference.
The boys selections were a little more complicated. There wasn’t an easy selection for Player of the Year. It forced my hand into a two-player situation — if I had ever seen a three-player award handed out, it would have been easy to go that route as well.
In the end, it was Powder Valley’s balanced attack that did it in from Marcus Pratt or Tyler Robinson getting that slight nudge.
That left it to La Grande’s Tyson Wicklander and Imbler’s Kyle Johnson.
Initially, Johnson wasn’t on the radar. But, in hindsight, looking at what Imbler lost last season and the job Johnson did helping the younger kids along, put him into that group. Johnson could have scored 20 points a game, but chose to get his teammates more involved. He still managed to put up consistent numbers.
Coach of the Year was a simple choice in my eyes. Union’s Brett Dunten got a group of players to actually play together. If not for a case of shell shock in the play-in game, the Bobcats might have been playing in the final eight in Pendleton.
Not going to lie, this isn’t a very diverse group. La Grande, Powder Valley and Imbler dominate this list. All three teams dominated their respective leagues — Greater Oregon League and Old Oregon League.
It was kind of a strange year. More so for Powder Valley. With seven seniors returning, Quin Stephens, who received the sixth-man award, was easily in the top five for Player of the Year. If not for missed playing time, it would have been easy to hand it to Stephens outright.
Take it all with a grain of salt. Mull it over, and if you want to talk to me about your selections I’d be happy to.
There’s nothing better than debating sports.