Ballers honored at banquet

Norv & Mary Coblentz · Thursday, March 14, 2013
The West Liberty boys’ basketball team awards banquet was held at the high school March 10, rescheduled from the previous week because of snowy weather. Desserts were served. Three varsity players received Cedar Valley Conference awards, and other awards were distributed as well.

Varsity Head Coach James Laughlin thanked several people including the Booster Club members, the junior high coaches, Cory Kaalberg for announcing, the managers, Bryson Iske for videoing the varsity games, the parents, and those who helped at the youth tournaments. Laughlin announced that money is still being raised to buy new equipment for the new weight room.

The varsity team finished with a 12-12 record, 5-9 in the CVC. “We played some good ball games,” Laughlin said. “We played some poor ball games, too.”

Senior Tyler Newsom received first-team all-conference honors. Second team honors went to junior Kyle Miller, and Brett Becker received honorable mention. Academic All-Conference will be awarded after the third quarter ends.

Laughlin spoke briefly about each of the varsity players who attended the banquet. Brady Smith as moved up for the post season. “He was always working and did his job in practice,” Laughlin said.

Ryan Alpen was also brought up for the post season. Cooper Koenig got some playing time at the end of the season. “We put him in the fire,” Laughlin said. Koenig had significant minutes playing in the West Liberty post season win against Wilton.

Matt Kelly “worked hard and came to practice every day. He was excited to be on varsity,” Laughlin said.

Riley Anderson is “tough, a hard worker every single time in practice or in games. He’s not afraid of things,” Laughlin said. Laughlin was pleased with Troy Heick’s progress over the season. “He is defensively (solid), and I’m pleased with how he improved late in the year offensively,” Laughlin said.

Carl Guardado is “one of those kids with a knack for finding rebounds. He became more of an offensive threat for us late in the year. He has great hands for defense and is quick,” Laughlin said.

Miller averaged 13 points per game. “Kyle is so coachable,” Laughlin said. “He improved his court awareness this season and has a good knack for steals in the zone.”

“We had to reel him in a little bit,” Laughlin said of Becker. “He did an excellent job late in the year cutting down on turnovers, and he scored more. He averaged 5.9 assists per game and was just five or six short of the school record.”

Israel Montelongo, the team’s other senior, will be missed. “He’s not a stat sheet filler,” Laughlin said. “He plays hard adn dos many good things for us. He keeps us calm. His demeanor was very, very important for us.”

Newsom “has been a shooter since he was a freshman,” Laughlin said. “The biggest thing is how he became a well-rounded player.” Newsom set the record for most three-pointers in a season with 53, shattering the previous record of 41. He averaged nearly seven rebounds per game and had a 14.8 points per game average. “He was a team leader,” Laughlin said.

Six other varsity awards were given. Becker received the Coaches Award. Most Improved went to Guardado. Anderson received the Hustle Award. Newsom got Best Offense and MVP. Best Defense went to Montelongo.

Jason Iske, Junior Varsity Head Coach, thanked his wife and children and his parents and in-laws for making it possible for him to coach.

He said the proudest moment he had as a coach this season was last week when he handed out questionnaires, and the players said their best game of the season was at Wilton, a game they did not win. “They got it,” Iske said.

JV awards were presented. The awards were voted on by the players. Most Improved was given to Evan Dalton. Raudel Fierro received the Newcomer Award. Practice Player of the Year went to Parker Feldman. Defensive Player of the Year was Brady Smith. Cooper Koenig got Offensive Player of the Year. Smith got the Tough Guy Award.

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