Player of the Year

WILKES CENTRAL’S Noah Johnson, seen here driving to the basket against West Wilkes’ Jackson Stinson during the regular season, was named The Wilkes Journal-Patriot’s Player of the Year for boys’ basketball for the 2018-19 season.

Noah Johnson’s senior season was filled with a plethora of awards for not just himself, but also, the Wilkes Central boys’ basketball team.

The four-year varsity starter for the Eagles can now add another honor to his loaded resume’ — Wilkes Journal-Patriot Player of the Year.

Johnson reached the 1,000-career point plateau, was named the Mountain Valley Athletic Conference’s Player of the Year and named the MVP to the all-tournament team.

He was also named second-team all-district for District 11 by the North Carolina Basketball Coaches Association. He was also a key component in leading the Eagles to an undefeated Mountain Valley Athletic Conference record and the MVAC regular-season and tournament championships.

“Noah had an awesome senior year; fearless and toughness are two words that come to mind when I think of Noah. His ‘refuse to lose’ mindset in every game was vital to our success,” said Wilkes Central Head Coach Matt Hagaman. “He was a committed  ‘year-round’ worker who never missed anything, played through injuries and always wanted the ball when the game was on the line, making many Big Time plays.

“We are very proud of Noah — he is an outstanding Eagle, a winner and a champion, certainly worthy of Player of The Year recognition.”

Johnson led the Eagles in numerous offensive categories, including points per game (15.3), 3-pointers (52) and assists per game (4.2).

This is Johnson’s second time being named player of the year after sharing the honor last year.

All-County First Team

Like a regular basketball game, the rest of the all-county first team consists of 10 players (in addition to Johnson), who were nominated by their respective head coaches, for a traditional five-on-five look.

Counting Johnson, Wilkes Central led the first team selections with five players. West Wilkes and North Wilkes had three and two selections, respectively, while East Wilkes had one selection.

Nine of the 11 selections were all-MVAC first team selections.

East Wilkes (3-20, 1-13 MVAC)

A year after being a midseason varsity call-up, Trey Lambert assumed a much larger role for the Cardinals in Wes Rousseau’s first season as head coach.

Lambert, an all-MVAC selection, led the Cardinals in scoring (14.2 points per game) and grabbed a team-high 6.8 boards per game. He also averaged 2.1 assists (also a team high) and 1.3 steals per game.

“Trey had a natural ability to get to the rim and finish and his offense game was supplemented by an increased efficacy as a three-point shooter as the year progressed,” said Rousseau. “He was a difficult matchup for any team, as he combines length, quickness and touch around the basket to be a very versatile offensive player. “

North Wilkes (11-14, 7-7)

Ethan Brown played a major role in the Vikings’ success this winter, leading the team in scoring (14.3 PPG), rebounds (5.1 RPG), assists (3.4 APG) and steals. He also drew 14 charges.

“Ethan is one of the toughest players I have ever coached. He was a vital part of our team this year,” North Wilkes Head Coach Logan Call said. “He often played the entire game and still competed at a high level on both ends.”

Like Brown, Austin Foster was also an all-MVAC selection and complemented Brown nicely on both ends.

The senior averaged 7.9 points a game and grabbed 4.1 rebounds a game.

“Austin is one of the smartest and most-committed team defenders I have ever coached,” said Call. “He could have averaged more points but he is so unselfish he wouldn’t shoot at times because he was so focused on defense and rebounding.”

West Wilkes (13-11, 8-6)

The Blackhawks had a four-win improvement from the 2017-18 season, thanks in part to a solid core of young players.

All-MVAC selection Jacob Brown led the Blackhawks in nearly every statistical category. He averaged 15.5 points a game, 4.1 rebounds per game and 5.3 assists a game.

Eric Holder, an All-MVAC and all-tournament selection who West Wilkes Head Coach Scottie Greene called “the best pure shooter on this team,” averaged 9.8 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.

Cameron Ford was a player Greene called “our glue guy who does all the dirty work.” Ford averaged 7.8 rebounds a game and took 10 charges.

Wilkes Central (22-4, 14-0)

In addition to Johnson, a group of talented seniors helped lead the Eagles to an undefeated MVAC record — both in the regular season and tournament to go a combined 17-0.

Skylar Brooks, who Hagaman called “the team’s best defensive player,” grabbed a team best 7.6 rebounds a game and also led the team in steals with 81.

An All-MVAC and all-tournament selection, Brooks finished his career with 1,000 combined rebounds, assists and steals.

As the team’s X-factor, according to Hagaman, Levi Church averaged 10 points and 4.2 rebounds a game. He added 17 blocks and 26 3-pointers while being named to the All-MVAC team. Church recently signed to play basketball for Guilford College.

Zamian Gwyn made the transition into the starting lineup this winter and finished just behind Johnson in scoring at 11 points per game.

The senior all-MVAC selection, who Hagaman called “our team cleanup man,” grabbed 6.4 rebounds a game and added 32 steals.

Ahmad Osborne, an All-MVAC honorable mention selection, was a versatile guard who averaged 8.4 points a game. The senior also averaged 2.1 rebounds and two assists per game.

All-County second team

Six players were selected to the all-county second team, led by two picks apiece from North Wilkes and Wilkes Central while East Wilkes and West Wilkes each added one selection.

East Wilkes

Dylan Ward made his presence felt in his first varsity season with the Cardinals. The sophomore averaged 8.8 points a game and was 48 percent from three-point range.

He also shot an impressive 93 percent from the free-throw line.

North Wilkes

Sophomore Zack Carlton averaged 9.1 points a game and three rebounds per game while being named to the All-MVAC honorable mention team.

Senior Kobe Brown, who Call called “our best individual defender,” averaged 5.8 points a game and 3.1 rebounds per game. He also drew 18 charges.

West Wilkes

A player who Greene called “our energy guy who works very hard,” Jaden Wentz averaged 7.2 points per game.

Wilkes Central

Daylon Banks split time between the starting lineup and coming off the bench as Central’s sixth man. The sophomore averaged 9.4 points a game and hit 33 3-pointers.

Banks, who hit a pair of big free throws late in the Eagles’ tournament championship win over Starmount, was named to the all-tournament team.

Cameron McNeil, who Hagaman felt “did all the little things,” led the team in charges taken while averaging three points a game and 2.6 rebounds per game.

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