By The Telegram
Make no mistake, success and South Gray boys basketball have gone hand-in-hand for many years, no more so than the past five seasons.
In those five seasons, the Rebel boys have sported a glittering 133-9 record with two state titles and a runner-up to their credit.
In the past four seasons, Chase Clancy has been part of those teams and two weeks ago completed his prep career by leading the Rebels to a 25-2 record and a second-place finish to Hanover in the 1A state tourney in Hays.
Clancy's 25.0 points per game average was well ahead of any other player in The Telegram area this year and his scoring, along with floor leadership and defensive skills have earned him The Telegram's Boys Player of the Year award.
"It's been a lot of fun and a great experience to play at South Gray," Clancy said. "I've been playing basketball a long time and learned from a lot of the guys who established the tradition at South Gray. We've just tried to keep that success going and we wanted to pass it along to the players coming behind us."
Clancy, known for his long-range sharpshooting skills, his team-oriented philosophy enabled him to average 5.8 assists a game while also pulling down 3.7 rebounds and grabbing 2.8 steals each time out.
"I've just tried to play smart and keep my head and be more patient," Clancy said. "You just want to do the things that a leader needs to do to help the team be successful."
Clancy established several school records during his career as a Rebel. He now shares the single game assist record of 10 with three others; owns the single season record for most points (674) and average (25.0). His 159 assists also set a single-season mark. For his career, he averaged 17.8 points a game and made 64.7 percent of his field goals (more than 300 attempts) and his 39 points as a junior are also a school single game record.
"We've had a lot of really good players through the years, but certainly Chase is right up there with the very best of them," South Gray coach Mark Applegate said. "He's been a lot of fun to coach, he's gotten better each year."
Clancy has verbally committed to play at Garden City Community College next year and plans to sign on April 8.
It's hard to ignore the all-star numbers. But Ron Baker just sees himself as being the beneficiary of playing with some quality teammates who worked well together to produce the kind of season the Scott City Beavers had.
Scott City's season ended in the sub-state finals, but even that was better than most people thought.
Baker grew into the leadership role unexpectedly during football season when he took over the quarterback spot at the last minute, leading his team to the state playoffs.
"Having coach (Glenn) O'Neil for a football coach then going to basketball and having him again, you know what he expects from every person on the team," Baker said. "He would pull me aside and say, 'You've got to be a leader, Ron.' It helped me become a leader for our team this year. It worked out well."
The numbers show how well that worked. After a slow start to the season, he ended up averaging 19.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.0 steals and 3.3 assists per game.
In his four-year high school career, Andrew Brown and his teammates enjoyed unparalleled success. Three trips to the Class 2A state tournament in Manhattan, a third-place finish his junior year for the highest place in school history, and a 23-win season that also set a school single-season mark for victories.
It was the final game of his high school career, though, that was the tough one to swallow as he and his Bulldogs dropped an overtime loss to Spearville in the Class 2A sub-state final at Leoti. In Brown's final game he scored 25 points, including five 3-point baskets.
"It was a fun year and being more of a leader was a good experience for me," he said. "My sophomore year I was just a role player, and then my junior and senior years I had to step up and be more of a scorer and leader. It was just disappointing not to make it to state our senior year."
In his senior campaign, Brown averaged a team-high 14.3 points while shooting 46 percent from the field and 80 percent from the free throw line. He also pulled down 5.3 rebounds a game and averaged 4.3 assists and 3.3 steals.
Brown verbally committed to play at Southwestern College in Winfield, an NAIA school in southeast Kansas.
Ask Jonathan Miller and he'll tell you he's not deserving of being named to The Telegram's All-Area first team. But you can't argue the numbers: He led the Greeley County boys squad in scoring with 12.6 points, shooting 53 percent from the field, and in rebounding with 6.2 boards a contest — nearly double the average of any other teammate.
According to Miller, though, the scoring numbers a bit skewed.
"When I heard I got selected it kind of confused me," Miller said. "I don't think as myself as someone who's that good. When I play, I feel like I don't really create any scoring, I just get what's given to me because a lot of my teammates do a great job of getting the ball to me when I'm in the position to score easily. It feels like my stats aren't representative of what I can actually do."
The 6-foot-3 junior forward helped anchor the Jackrabbits attack, which led them to a 24-2 record. Miller averaged 2.2 assists and 2.2 steals — which tied with Stephen Houston for the team lead for the year.
In the season ending 50-46 loss in the opening round of the Class 1A state tournament against Baileyville-B&B in Hays, Miller scored eight points along with three assists and also blocked three shots in the contest.
"We were all really excited to make it to state because it's really hard to do that in 1A," Miller said. "But when it ended in the first round, man it was rough."
When the season started, the Lakin Broncs had a new coach with a new system. But they still had the same drive and determination.
That's how senior Dylan Shalberg described his team's attitude going into the season. Somehow, things clicked, and Lakin finished 15-9 with just one bad quarter away from a state berth.
Shalberg led the Hi-Plains League in scoring with 16 points a game, and he averaged 9 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 3.0 assists. He is proud of his individual performance, but it was the team success that he extols more.
"We knew our team chemistry was going to be good, and we knew people wanted to be there to play and win games," Shalberg said.
The highlight of his season was beating rival Holcomb in front of a home crowd in the sub-state semifinals, a team with whom he gets along with, but has always been Lakin's nemesis. Lakin also handed the Longhorns their first league loss in four years, and to Shalberg, that was sweet, too.
"Overall we had a good season," he said. "We didn't get our main goal, but we got further than any team since Lakin won state (in 2002)."
The team started 1-4 and some doubts crept into their psyche. But Shalberg said he and fellow seniors Zach Reed and Evan Holmes took some leadership role. Once things started clicking, the team finished 13-5.
Shalberg would like to continue playing at the collegiate level, but his ultimate goal is to get a civil engineering degree.