The catalyst behind the Erie boys' basketball team's first regional championship in eight years, senior guard/forward Jacob Johnston turned in a season to remember both for himself and for the Cardinals (19-14).|
So, it's only fitting that the 6-foot-4 standout was tabbed by the Three Rivers Conference as its Player of the Year for the 2012-13 prep campaign. Averaging over 23 points per game, Johnston hit his peak during Erie's Class 1A regional-title run, scoring 49 points in the semifinals against Shabbona Indian Creek and then 40 in a 73-65 title-clinching win over Paw Paw.
Johnston was the lone first-team pick for the Cardinals, who won regional gold for the first time since 2005 and only the second time since 1960. Fellow senior guard Connor Saad was an honorable-mention selection.
Johnston was also just one of two TRAC-9 standouts to earn unanimous first-team honors, the other being Kewanee senior guard Dayton Ince. Ince put up over 17 points per night to help the Boilermakers to a 22-5 finish and a perfect 14-0 title-run in the conference, in addition to helping his coach Steve Salisbury earn the league's Coach of the Year award.
Ince's freshman teammate, forward Donovan Oliver, did earn second-team kudos after averaging a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds per game. The Boilers' duo of senior guard Matt Gustafson and junior forward Dalton Nuding earned honorable-mention spots.
Two more area standouts earned first-team spots -- Riverdale senior guard Jared Richmond and Prophetstown senior forward Carter Ames. Richmond's 19 points per game helped the 15-14 Rams reach the 2A regional finals, while Ames led the 14-15 Prophets with 14 points a night.
Three more seniors -- Fulton's Nick Fish, Morrison's Alexander Volckmann and Prophetstown's Devin Johnson -- earned second-team berths. Prophetstown senior Zach Inskeep and Riverdale junior Mitchell Sand landed on the honorable-mention list.
Bureau Valley had a pair of selections in first-team sophomore guard Parker Neuhalfen and second-team sophomore forward Tommy Johnston.
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