Class 1A was loaded with talent this year in boys basketball.
In fact, two teams from the area advanced to the state semifinals, and one team in Mainstreet’s coverage area brought home a state title.
That doesn’t include a pair of other teams who were ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 in the state this season.
Those players who were a part of the area’s success were well represented on the Mainstreet Daily News All Area Basketball Teams.
A panel of local sportswriters and coaches chose the All Area teams from Mainstreet’s eight-county coverage area. All 44 players and coaches will receive commemorative plaques to recognize their accomplishments.
Freshman CJ Ingram of Hawthorne made the first team after helping lead the Hornets (11-5) to the Class 1A state semifinals.
Ingram led his team in scoring at 14.7 points per game, but also averaged 5.9 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and 3.1 steals.
“CJ has a great feel for the game,” said Hawthorne coach Greg Bowie, who led the Hornets to another state semifinal appearance. “He’s an all-around player and very unselfish. He’ll go from getting a clutch basket, to taking a charge, to dropping a dime to a teammate. He’s special.”
But there was not a more dominating player in the paint than Bell junior Daniel Pittman, who joined Ingram on the first team after being named to the All Area 2021 team. Pittman averaged a whopping 28.5 points per game to go along with 11.5 rebounds every night.
“Daniel is a young man with high moral standards who works hard at the game of basketball not only trying to improve himself but also works to make his teammates better,” said Bell basketball coach Charles Mehl. “This makes him a great teammate and positive leader.”
Bell assistant coach Mark Kenney, who has worked with Pittman for two years now and knows him to be “a very upstanding, conscientious and polite individual” said his basketball skills have greatly improved since he’s had the privilege to work with him.
“One would be very surprised how quick Daniel is in the paint,” he said. “At 6-5, 300 pounds, he is virtually unstoppable inside. To add to his dominance inside, he shot nearly 80 percent from the charity stripe. His ball handling skills are impeccable and literally loves the game.”
Bronson, which finished 16-10 under first-year coach Billy McCall, Jr. and just missed the state playoffs, placed two on the All Area team.
Senior Jesse Williams III made the first team after averaging a double-double (15.1 points and 10.2 rebounds) for the Eagles, along with 3.6 assists and 4.1 steals per game. Mainstreet selected Williams to the All Area basketball team in 2021 and he was also selected to the All Area 2021 football team.
“Jesse turned out to be a very good contributor on our team in every category,” McCall said. “He had never been pushed as hard as I pushed him, on the varsity level, and once he realized that he was better than what he was giving, that’s when he evolved into the team’s best overall player. He’s the graduating class’s valedictorian and a multisport athlete. The future is extremely bright for this young man, and I am very proud of him.”
Senior Aneury Montero (15.1 points, 8 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 5.9 steals per game) made the second team.
“Aneury developed into a really good player despite his lack of maturity throughout the season. As the season progressed, he quickly became the opposing team’s best player’s worst nightmare because of his suffocating defense. His knack for the ball on defense was impeccable.”
Williston has a star in the making in 8th grader JT Tipton, who helped lead the Red Devils (16-11) to the regional semifinals.
Tipton made the first team after averaging 14.8 points per game. He shot 89 percent from the free throw line (89-of-95).
“Just watching him on film, he’s got one of the quickest releases that I’ve seen,” noted Hawthorne coach Greg Bowie.
Tipton’s teammate, sophomore Kyler Lamb, made the second team after averaging 12.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 2.1 steals per game.
Joining Tipton in the backcourt on the first team is senior Tyler Perry of Trenton (18-11), which just missed its first trip to the state semifinals with a double overtime loss at Hawthorne in the regional final.
Perry, who had a game-high 16 points in the loss to the Hornets, is a University of Nebraska at Kearney football signee. On the hardwood, he averaged 8.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. He was also named to Mainstreet’s 2021 All Area team.
“Tyler Perry was a very special player for Trenton High School as a whole,” said Trenton coach Cedric Booth. “(former players) Hamp Cheevers and Wyatt Langford are the most recent players that affected the school as a whole athletically. Guys that are multiple sport stars are hard, if at all possible, to replace. Tyler was a pillar in the program, a guy that the team could just look to in hard times and just make plays.”
Hawthorne lost to eventual state champion Bradford (Starke) in the state semifinals. The Class 1A state champion Tornadoes (16-10) were balanced in scoring, but still placed Shayne Davis and Amari Jones on the second team.
Davis, a junior, averaged 11.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 2.1 steals per game. He scored 17 points in the state semifinals and had 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists in the title game.
“Shayne is the type of player every coach wishes he had,” said Bradford coach Sampson Jackson. “He’s the type of player you don’t have to worry about what kind of energy or effort he’s bringing to the game. He’s going out every night to give it all he has. He can finish at the rim, he can defend and he’s a leader, super excited about him returning next year.”
Jones, a senior, averaged 8.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 2.2 steals per game. He had nine points and seven rebounds in the state championship game.
“At 6-4, 220 pounds, he creates mismatches for opponents, and he was always the guy we looked to when things got shaky down the stretch,” Jackson said. “He can shoot, he can post, he can pass the ball, literally can do it all. We could put him in the post or out on the wing and know that he’s going to make a play for us. The way he goes about his business on and off the court is what it takes to set the standard in a program.”
Joining Jones in the frontcourt is sophomore Andrew Powell of Oak Hall School, who averaged 17.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game for the 14-7 Eagles.
“Andrew had one of the finest offensive seasons in the past 20 years of Oak Hall basketball, but he also improved tremendously in other areas this season and led the team in both rebounding and blocked shots,” assistant coach David Stirt noted. “Nobody works harder at his game, and as he gets stronger and more experienced, he has a chance to develop into a player who could make a big impact for a college program in a couple of years.”
Newberry, which was ranked No. 1 in 1A in January, led the way with four players as honorable mention selections.
BOYS – SMALL SCHOOL (1A/2A) (1st Team)
G – Tyler Perry, Trenton (Senior)
G – JT Tipton, Williston (8th-Grade)
G/F – Jesse Williams, Bronson (Senior)
F – CJ Ingram, Hawthorne (Freshman)
C – Daniel Pittman, Bell (Junior)
BOYS – SMALL SCHOOL (3A-7A) (2nd Team)
G – Kyler Lamb, Williston (Sophomore)
G – Aneuro Montero, Bronson (Senior)
G/F – Shayne Davis, Bradford (Junior)
F – Amari Jones, Bradford (Senior)
F – Andrew Powell, Oak Hall (Sophomore)
Bradford: Robbie Simons (Sr., F-C), Jontez Williams (Sr., G), Dae’jon Shanks (So.)
Branford: Cash Blalock (Jr., G), Devin Mosley (Sr., C)
Chiefland: Jonathan Adams (8th grade)
Dixie County: Ian Williams (Jr., F)
Fort White: Jayden Jackson (8th grade, G)
Hawthorne: DJ Slater (Jr., G), Jailen Ruth (Jr., F), Jamal Nealy (Sr., F)
Newberry: Reggie White (So., F), Perrion Sylvester (Sr., G-F), Joe Carter III (Sr., G), Michael Moore (Jr., G)
St. Francis Catholic Academy: Tyler Dey (Jr., F)
Trenton: Xavier Jones (Jr., G), Jaron Riley (Sr., G)
Union County: Thomas Williams (So.), Curran Webb (Sr., F-C)
Williston: Ryan Williams (Sr., F-C), Javon Brown (So., G), Tayelen Seabrook (Sr., F)
This is the third in a five-part series on the 2022 Mainstreet Daily News All Area Basketball Team, sponsored by Smith Law Firm (girls teams) and Smith Asset Management Company (boys teams). Click here read about the small school girls and big school girls teams.