With some unrivaled free time to look back at the prep hoops season gone by, Bounce is now going to break down his own awards for the boys side of things.
ICYMI, I have already given out my own awards for the girls side, met with a FAN VOTE as well:
All this week, Bounce will be giving out some awards for each conference in Northeast Indiana as well as area teams we cover not in those four major conferences, let you get some voting in, and what about one more prediction?
We will break down these conferences and players this week and then on April 15 & 16, we wrap up boys hoops season with our All-Area team and Player of the Year.
Today, we look in at the NE8, the conference with the most Sectional champions in the are with three in Norwell, Leo and New Haven.
*You can vote in any of these fan polls for the next 10 days, through April 14
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Will Geiger, Norwell
How do you beat the best team in the conference and arguably the best team in the area? You stop Will Geiger of course. Now you will see the reason that the Knights were only beat once in the area and twice all season: stopping Will Geiger doesn’t happen much. He finished the year averaging a double-double to no surprise and was a guaranteed bucket getter near the rim while improving his game out from there. Best player from the best team. No brainer here.
HONORABLE MENTION: Blake Davison of Leo, Donovynn Lewis of New Haven, Mitchell Wilson of Columbia City, Kade Fuelling of Bellmont, Hayden Jones of East Noble
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Hayden Jones, East Noble
Bounce was ready to hear about it because I came razor close to making this Geiger as well because his value was immense. This is the conference, above any other that the ‘Best Player’ and ‘MVP’ races are pretty similar.
But I am staying true to my tune of who is relied on so much by their team and their team needs them to perform. And East Noble, who was supposed to slip off the radar, stayed in people’s minds in the NE8. They did that, in a large part, because Hayden Jones knew how the team had to perform to play at the level East Noble was accustomed to and he worked to raise them up. Jones is a workhorse and while any of my honorable mention candidates would have hurt their teams in their absence, East Noble NEEDED Jones to build themselves up.
HONORABLE MENTION: DJ Allen of Leo, Thomas Latham of New Haven, Mitchell Wilson of Columbia City, Kade Fuelling of Bellmont, Will Geiger of Norwell, Blake Davison of Leo
Who was the most valuable to their NE8 team in 2019-20?
BREAKOUT PLAYER: Luke McBride, Norwell
Nobody else was able to step into major varsity minutes and be as much of a worry as McBride was. We knew he was a big three point threat before he ever played a high school game but the jump from 8th grade to varsity ball is immense none the less. McBride didn’t miss a beat and never looked like he was even bothered by the pace or physicality of the game. As a freshman, he became one of the best players in the conference.
HONORABLE MENTION: Zack Troyer of Leo, Chris Hood of East Noble, Connor Penrod of DeKalb, Jakar Williams of New Haven
Who is your pick for breakout player from the NE8?
MOST UNDERRATED: Michael Sievers, Columbia City
When you are behind a player like Mitchell Wilson, it is easy to get lost in the conversation, especially if you aren’t one of the top ranked teams in the conference. Sievers was second on the team with 10.7 points per game and was an intimidating force from 15 feet and in with his stature and physicality. Sievers was especially impressive in the paint where he averaged a team second best 7 points per game in the paint.
HONORABLE MENTION: Nic Ellsworth of Bellmont, Conner Torson of Norwell, Caleb Nixon of DeKalb, Zach Hubartt of Huntington North, Gage Ernsberger of East Noble
Who is your pick for the most underrated player from the NE8?
COACH OF THE YEAR: Mike McBride, Norwell
McBride isn’t the best coach in the NE8 this year just because of what the Knights did on the court. He is also the best coach this year because of the value that he put into his youth and feeder systems from the time he joined Norwell as their coach four years ago. It paid off in droves this year because they were able to add varsity ready pieces from middle school and lower levels to accent their skilled and experienced senior class. The unbeaten NE8 champs added a Sectional title and were actually one of the favorites to come out of Class 3A in the north half of the state before the season was cut short. McBride cultivated all of that so well.
HONORABLE MENTION: Cary Cogdell of Leo, Bruce Stephens of New Haven, Ryan Eakins of East Noble
Who is your picks for NE8 Coach of the Year?
GAME OF THE YEAR: Norwell versus Leo, January 11
Norwell really looked in the first half like they were going to run away with this long looked forward to game. They hit shots, were efficient and their defense help stymy Leo. The Lions’ shooting was more than off all night long, but they still managed to fight back from an 11 point halftime deficit. In the Leo comeback, DJ Allen did a solid job of forcing Norwell’s Will Geiger out of his comfort zone; about as good as anyone did with that all season. But it was seasoning that did Leo in: Geiger and his fellow seniors Conner Torson and Drew Federspiel were just battle tested at the Knights prevailed 50-45.
HONORABLE MENTION: 2/25 Leo over DeKalb 59-53; 1/25 East Noble over Leo 60-52; 2/14 Leo over Columbia City 50-42; 1/25 Norwell over New Haven 54-45; 2/1 New Haven over Columbia City 58-53;
What is your pick for NE8 game of the year in 2019-20?
WHO WINS THE NE8 IN 2021?: Leo
Many teams can lay a fair claim to this spot, but Leo returning so many important pieces is going to give them the nod in my eyes as of April. Blake Davison proved he may be the most overall talented of his brothers and that is a difficult talk when you realize what kind of walking buckets that Adam and Jeremy were when they played for Leo. In Sectional play, the Lions finally got a game where both DJ Allen and Zack Troyer were very good and if that happens any night, nobody else is getting a rebound.
Who do you think wins the NE8 in 2021?
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