By Chris Johnson
Clarksburg Exponent Telegram
Bluefield dominated Class AA this season, winning that division’s championship and finishing the year undefeated against AA foes. It also dominated the all-state list, landing both of its top stars — junior guards Lykel Collier and Anthony Eades — on the eight-member first-team squad. Liberty’s Levi Cook, a sophomore big man who has already commited to play at West Virginia University, was the other area representative on the Class AA boys first-team list, released Thursday by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
Eades, who averaged roughly 20 points per contest, joins Morris as the only repeat selection to the Class AA first team.
Collier, was last year’s second-team captain, averaged 15 points, eight assists and five rebounds.
“After making second team captain last year, I knew I had to work even harder this season,” Collier said. “It’s a great honor and it’s great to get it along with Anthony. But the most important thing is we were able to win the Class AA state championship. When you have team success, the individual awards come because of it.”
Cook, who drew plenty of attention from opposing defenses after announcing his commitment to the Mountaineers in the fall, averaged 23.5 points, 13.2 rebounds, 4.1 blocks and 3.1 steals per game.
Another star from just outside the area won Class AA’s top honor.
Throughout his high school basketball career, Brett Morris was often referred to as the “best kept secret” in the state as Webster County High School is tucked away in an isolated part of West Virginia, an area stuck outside of most media’s primary markets.
Some secrets are impossible to keep hidden, though, and Morris was selected as the first-team captain.
Morris, who was the top vote-getter in his class, led the Highlanders to within a game of a second consecutive state tournament appearance, but Webster was ousted by North Marion is a thrilling double-overtime Region I co-final.
He finished his senior season leading the Highlanders in five statistical categories with averages of 25.9 points, 9.4 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.5 steals and 4.6 blocks
“It’s definitely a huge honor,” Morris said. “I was honorable mention as a sophomore and made first-team last year. The whole team worked hard to get back to Charleston this year. North Marion got up early on us, we fought back but it wasn’t meant to be. With the talent in Class AA, it’s a huge accomplishment to make first team again and to be named the captain.”
A trio of Big 10 Conference schools that moved down from Class AAA to Class AA this season and advanced to the semifinal round of the state tournament — Fairmont Senior, Bridgeport and Robert C. Byrd — are represented on the first team by one player apiece.
For the Polar Bears, senior Travon Horton, who averaged 18.5 points and seven rebounds, was picked after leading his team up against Bluefield in last Saturday’s title game. Bridgeport’s Tyler Sprouse, who averaged 14.7 points, three assists and 2.5 steals, was the Indians’ top scorer and helped his team advance to the state semifinals.
Sophomore Devonti Birch has emerged as one of the state’s most versatile players and was the leading scorer at 13.2 points, along with averages of 6.1 rebounds and 3.1 steals, that also advanced to the state semifinals.
The first team is rounded out by Chapmanville’s Mackenzie Martin, who averaged a double-double with 20.5 points and 11 rebounds per contest.
Fairmont Senior junior point guard Jarin Hilson is the captain of the second team. He averaged 16.8 points and six assists per contest. Hilson is joined by Summers County’s Taron Ayers (27.5 ppg, 3 apg), Westside’s Corey Bowles (19 ppg, 4 apg, 3 steals per game), North Marion’s Matt Cain (12 ppg, 5 rpg), Ritchie County’s Andrew Davis (18.8 ppg), Scott’s Matt Dolan (17.0 ppg), Sissonville’s Zach Null (17.8 ppg, 4.5 apg) and Tolsia’s Morgan Stacy (17.0 ppg).
The captain of the third team is Bluefield’s Michael Yost (15 ppg). He’s joined by Mingo Central’s Austin Banks (15.3 ppg, 8.5 apg, 6.1 rpg), Wyoming East’s Brett Bowling (16.9 ppg), Westside’s Justin Cogar (17.0 ppg, 8.5 rpg), Poca’s Noah Frampton (14.3 ppg), Bridgeport’s Jordan Haywood (13.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.8 apg), Robert C. Byrd’s Iziah Hill (10.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.8 apg) and Fairmont Senior’s Shaquille Washington (11.5 ppg, 9.8 rpg).
Area players earning honorable mention recognition in Class AA were Tyre Baker (River View), Maurice Brown (Mount View), Antonie Calloway (Mount View), Austin Canada (Wyoming East), Corey Coppola (Bluefield), D.J. Edwards (Bluefield), Levi Lambert (Westside), Austin Lyons (Liberty), Jacob McKlarney (James Monroe), Eric Beyatt (Nicholas County), T.J. Smith (Summers County), Jared Tharp (Nicholas County), Josh Tunstall (Wyoming East) and Jason Witzel (Pikeview).