Brock Netter, Staff Writer
To really understand just how special this past basketball season was, you’d have to look back on every career-defining moment, every game-winning shot, and every net that was cut down in jubilation.
Southern Ohio Sports Authority was right there every step of the way, covering individual milestones, improbable feats and wins that changed history.
After a fun-filled year, take a look at our All-Area Team, which consists of 30 area players who were at their best throughout the winter season.
George Arnett | Valley | Junior | Guard
Valley had a wealth of balance, boasting three players who scored 14 points or more per game. But when it was crunch time, the ball was in Arnett’s hands and he delivered the goods. With a fearless mentality, he attacked the basket and sank pull-up jumpers to the tune of 16 points a game, helping the Indians win their first district title since 2014. He was a first-team SOC II and first-team all-district selection.
Bradley Ashbaugh | Whiteoak | Senior | Guard
The Wildcats were constantly a threat to pull off an upset at any moment, and Ashbaugh was the biggest reason why. Leading the Wildcats with 22.6 points per night, he helped lead his team to wins over Piketon, Portsmouth and Peebles before scoring his 1,000th career point to end his Wildcat career. He was an all-SHAC and first-team all-district selection.
Bryson Badgley | McClain | Senior | Guard
McClain was loaded with 10 seniors on its team, but no one could put the ball in the hoop as consistently as Badgley did. With the ability to drop 30 points in the blink of an eye — which he did on multiple occasions — he spearheaded the Tigers to 17 wins and an FAC championship by scoring 18.1 points a game, including his 1,000th career point. He was the FAC Player of the Year and a first-team all-district selection.
DeSean Branson | Unioto | Senior | Guard
Branson came on strong last season during Unioto’s regional semifinal run. This year, he ran the show and made the most of his opportunities. With a pair of game-winners in his back pocket to boast a clutch gene, he helped guide Unioto to 12 wins while averaging 18.6 points and 5.4 rebounds on the year. He was the SVC Player of the Year and a first-team all-district selection.
Casey Cline | Westfall | Junior | Guard
Westfall had the talent and unpredictability factor to win the SVC. Although they didn’t, the Mustangs gave teams a run for their money because of Cline’s ability to put the ball in the bucket. The junior guard boasted a silky smooth shot and posted a team-leading 14.1 points per night. He was a first-team SVC and second-team all-district selection. Remember his name next winter.
Reico Colter | Washington | Senior | Guard
Colter transferred to Washington and immediately made a splash that put the Blue Lions back on the map. He dropped 40 points in a season-opening win against Warren and never slowed down until the bitter end. With a jumper that caressed nylon nearly every time, he led the Blue Lions with 21.4 points a night, helping to claim 13 wins and a sectional championship. He was an all-FAC and first-team all-district selection.
Bransyn Copas | North Adams | Sophomore | Guard
As a freshman, Copas was tasked with a lot of responsibility while learning on the fly at the varsity level. He took his game to a new level this season, establishing himself as the go-to guy that helped the Green Devils win 12 games with a team-leading 17.2 points per night. He was an all-SHAC and first-team all-district selection.
Jace Copley | Valley | Sophomore | Guard
It couldn’t all just be transition dunks and attacking the basket. Someone had to be willing to pull up from distance. Enter Copley. Give him an inch of space from beyond the arc and the ball is going up. Never one to shy away from a big shot, he finished the season for the 20-win Indians by scoring 15 points a game to help them win a sectional and district championship. Valley isn’t going anywhere with Copley back in the fold.
Dax Estep | Paint Valley | Junior | Forward
In the wild horse race that was the SVC, Paint Valley stayed in the thick of things because of Estep’s efforts. A menace on the boards and a master of put-backs, the 6-foot-4 Bearcat forward ended the season as the team’s leading scorer and rebounder at 15.4 points and 8.6 rebounds per night. He returns for one final season after being named first-team SVC and a second-team all-district selection.
Cyan Ervin | Wellston | Junior | Forward
Ervin has always been a special talent, but this was his year to elevate himself to another level. He led the Golden Rockets to their first winning season in five years, averaging 21 points and five rebounds per night. He capped the year by scoring his 1,000th career point — just the ninth player in school history to reach that plateau. He was a first-team TVC and all-district selection.
Will Futhey | Waverly | Senior | Forward
Futhey’s talents on the gridiron speaks for themselves, but he was the X-factor that took Waverly from a district final appearance last year to a state semifinal appearance this season. His aggression in the post and relentlessness on the glass pushed the Tigers to heights they hadn’t seen since 1970. He ended the season averaging 15.5 points and eight rebounds per night, earning first-team SOC II and second-team all-district honors.
Luke Garrett | Eastern Brown | Senior | Guard
Garrett was part of, arguably, the best 1-2 punch in the SHAC, and delivered the goods whenever his number was called. The 6-foot-1 guard controlled the game and knew when to strike at all times, shown by his 17.7 points per game, including his 1,000th career point. He shot just under 50 percent from the floor, helping bring the Warriors another SHAC title. He was an all-SHAC and second-team all-district selection.
Tanner Holbert | Logan Elm | Junior | Guard
Holbert shouldered nearly as much offensive responsibility as any player in the area and always rose to the occasion, even beating teams single-handedly when needed. Having the green light at any time to get his shot off, the touted junior drained buckets at a premium level and scored 20.3 points per game, leading the Braves to 14 wins and a sectional title. He was an MSL and first-team all-district selection.
Trent Hundley | Eastern Brown | Senior | Forward
The Warriors have a reputation for dominating the SHAC. Nothing about that changed, and Hundley made sure of it. Arguably the most dominant player in the conference, he led the Warriors in every statistical category — 18.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2.4 steals, 1.0 blocks, 47 percent shooting and 81 percent from the free throw line. Unreal. He was named SHAC Player of the Year and first-team all-district.
Grady Jackson | New Boston | Senior | Guard
It was well-known that New Boston was going to take a couple steps back this season. But that paved the way for Jackson to showcase his talents. With the ball in his hands, the do-it-all guard slashed his way to scoring 23.7 points a night, including his 1,000th career point. He ends his career with two SOC I, four sectional, two district titles and a regional crown. He was named first-team SOC I and first-team all-district.
Koleton Miller | Western | Senior | Guard
Miller was the driving force behind the best season Western has had over the past 15 years. He led the team in scoring at 14.7 points per night, helping the Indians capture 25 wins including SOC I, sectional and district titles alongside a regional final appearance. He was named first-team SOC I and first-team all-district, leaving behind a lasting legacy in Latham.
Myles Montgomery | Minford | Freshman | Guard
Montgomery is the only freshman on this list, and it’s easy to understand why. He made a huge splash in the area with multiple 20-point games, establishing himself as the future of Minford basketball by averaging 20.3 points for the 18-win Falcons, earning himself first-team SOC II and first-team all-district honors. This kid is a superstar in the making and worth the price of admission. Enjoy the next three years watching him.
Tristan Prater | Jackson | Senior | Guard
Jackson’s postseason run happened without Prater due to injury, but the senior guard was the heart and soul of the Ironmen. He was part of the Ironmen’s defensive identity, and became the go-to guy that averaged 10 points a night, helping the Ironmen win 12 games. He was named all-FAC and a second-team all-district selection.
Eli Radabaugh | Vinton County | Senior | Guard
Vinton County has had a proud basketball tradition, spurred by excellent guard play. Radabaugh was the latest example. He tied the school record for assists in a game with 11, but also showed his ability to score by averaging a team-high 13 points per game, which helped the Vikings claim a share of the TVC title for the first time since 2017. He was named all-TVC and first-team all-district.
Xzander Ream | Zane Trace | Junior | Guard
The Pioneers were filled to the brim with talent, but Ream managed to become the cream of the crop in Kinnikinnick. With the athleticism to put anyone on a poster, alongside a solid jump shot, he was the team’s leading scorer at 14.3 points and helped the Pioneers win the SVC and a sectional title. He was named first-team SVC and first-team all-district.
Trey Robertson | Waverly | Senior | Guard
It’s impossible to have this list without the best player in the area, and in school and county history for that matter. He was a two-time SOC II and Division II District Player of the Year, a two-time first-team All-Ohioan, a 2,000 point scorer and a pure winner. Robertson capped his storied career by scoring 25 points a game, leading the Tigers to SOC II, sectional, district and regional titles. Whatever college roster he suits up for is getting a straight assassin with the ball in his hands.
Levi Sampson | Green | Junior | Forward
There’s no one in the area who put up buckets the way Sampson did, and his numbers reflect it. A mismatch at 6-foot-4, he routinely got to his spots and made all defenders pay for trying him. Though the Bobcats had their struggles at times, Sampson finished the season as the area’s leading scorer at 26.4 points per night. He was a first-team SOC I and first-team all-district selection.
Jonathan Strickland | Notre Dame | Senior | Forward
The Titans had a bit more balance this season, but make no mistake about it, Strickland was still their go-to guy. Not one to shy away from contact, the senior forward finished the season by scoring 15.8 points a night for the 17-win Titans, which included winning a sectional title. He was named first-team SOC I and first-team all-district for his efforts.
Eli Swords | Wheelersburg | Senior | Forward
Swords was the only player from last season’s Sweet 16 run with vast varsity experience. He put the team on back at times and Wheelersburg did what it always does: win the big games. The 6-foot-1 senior led the Pirates to a sectional and district championships, averaging 16.3 points a night. He was named first-team SOC II and second-team all-district.
Tra Swayne | Piketon | Senior | Guard
The Redstreaks always packed their lunch pail and brought it defensively, and Swayne was a part of that. But he also had a gear offensively that made him a threat to take over a game in a moment’s notice. He ended the season scoring 12.4 points and dishing out a team-high 3.8 assists, leading his team to 14 wins. He was named first-team SVC and second-team all-district.
Reese Teeters | Fairfield | Senior | Forward
The Lions always bring it, especially once tournament season rolls around and Teeters turned things up a notch late in the season. He averaged 14.1 points and shot 43 percent from distance, helping guide the 14-win Lions to their third straight sectional title and district final appearances. He was named all-SHAC and first-team all-district.
Kendyll Toney | McClain | Senior | Forward
Toney was an imposing force with a strong 6-foot-4 frame. But he was as smooth as butter with the ball in his hands. The southpaw saved his best season for last as he poured in 13.9 points alongside five rebounds and a tick under four assists per night, helping the Tigers claim their first district championship since 2005. He was named all-FAC and second-team all-district.
Noah Whitt | Western | Senior | Guard
There was nothing flashy about Whitt’s game. He simply just played and let his impact on the game do the talking for him. In turn, it led to him scoring 13.6 points a night, on top of making all the little plays that added up to Western’s magical run to the Elite Eight. He was named SOC I Player of the Year and second-team all-district.
Trae Zimmerman | South Webster | Senior | Guard
South Webster was an unpredictable team that could beat any opponent on a given night, and Zimmerman was the main catalyst. With an attack mindset and a fearlessness to attack the bucket, the senior guard finished the season by averaging 17 points and scored his 1,000th career point, leading the Jeeps to a sectional championship. He was named first-team SOC II and first-team all-district.
Trenton Zimmerman | Minford | Senior | Forward
Zimmerman got some much-needed scoring assistance from his running mate in Montgomery, but it was still Zimmerman’s show. A towering presence at 6-foot-6, he could beat you on the inside or from the perimeter. Pick your poison. He ended the season as the team’s leading scorer at 22.1 points per night, including his 1,000th career point as he guided the Falcons to a sectional title. He was named first-team SOC II and first-team all-district.
Honorable Mention Selections
Jude Little, Unioto; Cameron Hall, Chillicothe; Jesse Dixon, West; Braylon Damron, Vinton County; Bryce Stuart, Valley; Mark Stulley, Waverly; Josh Clark, Wheelersburg; Connor Lintz, Northwest; Alan McCoy, Peebles; Cordell Grubb, Paint Valley; Evan Park, Unioto; Nalin Robinson, Zane Trace; Aidan Hall, Oak Hill; Boston Campbell, Jackson; Garrett Brown, Wellston; Hunter Price, Hillsboro; Tanner Lemaster, Washington; Andrew Guthrie, Miami Trace; Levi Gullion, Piketon; Braylen Baker, Logan Elm