COLUMBUS – Unlike the all-area girls basketball team, the all-area boys team is senior-laden, led by a pair of Boone Central/Newman Grove players who led their team on an unlikely run to the state tournament.
Jessie Sullivan, who earns the title of honorary captain after averaging 17.2 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, and Dylan Gentrup led BC/NG to three consecutive upsets of No. 8 O’Neill, No. 6 Broken Bow and No. 2 Winnebago to punch its ticket to state for the first time since 2014.
Sullivan was a load inside. At 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds few players could hang with him in the post.
“He’s fabulous,” BC/NG head coach Justin Harris said. “He’s a smart player and when we get him the ball, it’s tough for anyone to guard him.”
An all-state defensive tackle in football, Sullivan was also named first-team all-state on the basketball court.
Gentrup averaged 16.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.3 steals per game. He tied the school record by making seven 3-pointers in one game and broke the school record for made free throws in a season and career.
“Dylan was at his best when he was aggressive in going to the hoop as many teams couldn't find a way to slow him down,” Harris said. He could score in a variety of ways, but also could create for his teammates. Dylan had a knack for making some key defensive plays to help lead to easy baskets that we needed.”
Joining the two Cardinals on the first team are David City Aquinas’ Tyler Vavrina, Schuyler’s Auston Hall and Humphrey St. Francis’ Trevor Pfeifer.
Vavrina is one of the best scorers to come through Aquinas in recent years. As a senior, the 6-foot-2 guard averaged 16 points, four rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.3 steals per game. Vavrina finishes his career with 1,095 career points.
“Tyler was a great senior leader for us,” Aquinas head coach Kyle Eller said. “He is a kid that absolutely loves the game of basketball and that translated to the rest of our team in a lot of ways. He definitely presents match-up problems as he has good size while still able to play both guard positions. He has a good mix and ability to score from either inside or outside as he was able to demonstrate this year. Tyler was almost always the first kid in the gym and the last one out.”
Hall was a big match-up problem inside for Schuyler’s opponents. The 6-foot-5 big man was a three-year starter for the Warriors, but took his game to a different level in his senior season. Hall averaged a double-double this season while scoring 14.7 points and grabbing 10.8 rebounds per game.
Pfeifer, the lone underclassmen on the first team has established himself as one of the best players in D-2 despite being just a sophomore. While the Flyers fell short of the state tournament this season, with Pfeifer back for two more years, the expectations won’t change for St. Francis.
The all-area second team includes Shelby Rising City’s Austin Coffin, Cross County’s Colton Beebe, Schuyler’s Mason Kovar, Clarkson/Leigh’s Daniel Beller and Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family’s Ashton Dohmen.
Coffin took on a much larger role this year for the Huskies with the graduation of last season’s honorary captain Nate Grossnicklaus. The junior and three-year starter averaged 15.5 points per game to go along with 4.4 rebounds, 2.5 steals and two assists a game.
Beebe had some huge games as the main ball-handler for the Cougars, including 20 points and 16 rebounds in the season opener. For the season, the 5-foot-10 guard had three double-doubles, showing off great rebounding skills for his size. He scored 20 or more points 12 times and averaged 16.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.3 steals per game.
Mason Kovar was on track for a huge season, but a knee injury sidelined him for the month of January and he just didn’t have the same scoring punch when he returned, but the senior, who was a lethal outside shooter, still averaged 11.8 points per game.
Daniel Beller averaged a double-double for Clarkson/Leigh, despite being undersized at 6-foot-2. Beller scored 10.9 points and grabbed 10 rebounds per game.
Finally Dohmen, who was a Telegram Super Senior in football because of his versatility, showed that same ability to do everything on the basketball court. Dohmen averaged 15.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, two assists and 1.4 steals per game and was also tasked with defending opposing teams’ best player.