By Adam Cahill
As the final week of the High School Basketball regular season comes to an end, it’s time for ESPN Cleveland to recognize some of the best players in the area with our second annual High School Hoops Hysteria Rewind All-Star Team -- an honor also known as, “Getting a Willie”. The awards are named after ESPN Cleveland’s own Will Burge. Now, the envelopes, please.
Terry Rozier, Shaker Heights, senior - Rozier is the tough, versatile, do-everything leader of a young team that secured a No. 2 seed in what is sure to be a brutal Solon Sectional. He has the ability to score off the dribble or while running off screens on the baseline. He’s also calm enough to run the point and get his teammates involved. He’s headed to Louisville to play for the legendary Rick Pitino
Joey Vuyancih, Lake Catholic, senior- Joey is another creative and versatile scorer. Earlier in the year, Vuyancih became the all-time leading scorer for the Cougars, blowing past the old record (1,073 points, by Steve Eppich) in late January. Vuyancih has a stop-and-start game reminiscent of former Cavalier Delonte West. Lake Catholic is the No. 1seed in the Ashtabula Lakeside Sectional in D-2.
Justin Fritts, Mentor, senior - Not much more can be said for this young man. Fritts is the engine that drives the frantic, three-points per-minute offense of Coach Bob Krizancic. Justin has spent much of the year averaging in excess of 29 ppg. and has the team poised for another trip to the Wolstein Center. He slides into the backcourt with ease when needed and at times seems to be an extension of his coach. Mentor will be the top seed in the Euclid Sectional.
Tom Tupa, Jr., Brecksville Broadview Heights, junior -- Although he is more known as the quarterback of the Bees’ football team Tupa Jr. is a force on the hardwood, as well. The emotional leader of the No. 2 seed in the Midview Sectional, Tom is tough to guard on the perimeter and always saves his best performances for when it counts, including a huge game at home vs. SWC leader Westlake late in February. Despite fighting through a shoulder injury suffered during the fall, Tupa finished strong, as did the Bees who placed second to Westlake in the SWC.
Pharaoh Brown, Brush, senior -- Another guy who is better known for his exploits in the fall, Pharoah is no slouch on the court, either. The future Oregon Duck tight end has the athletic Arcs poised to make some noise in the tourney with his size, athleticism and surprisingly-polished back-to-the-basket game. Brush will be a No. 2seed in the Euclid Sectional and will be looking to get past its nemesis, Mentor. Brown has never defeated the Cardinals in tournament play.
Mike Davis, Garfield Heights, senior -- Davis is the emotional leader of the defending Division I Regional Champs. A quick, penetrating point guard, with a solid outside shot, he is the rock that holds a talented Bulldog team together. A huge game vs. Mentor last week tied Garfield Heights with the Cardinals at the top of the NOC. His Bulldogs are the third seed in the Solon Sectional and will be looking to get to the Wolstein Center for the third matchup of the year with rival Mentor
Tyree Gaiter, Cleveland Heights, senior -- A dislocated wrist two weeks ago can’t take the luster off what was an amazing season from this 5-9 sparkplug. Gaiter is quick with the ball and a real headache for any player tasked with staying in front of him. Despite his diminutive size, Gaiter, the undisputed leader of the No. 1 team of the Solon Sectional, averaged nearly 19 points per game and regularly made the local news highlight reels with his athletic drives to the hoop.
Desmond Ridenour, Benedictine, senior -- This versatile senior guard had what may have been the dunk of the year over fellow ESPN Cleveland High School Hoops Hysteria Rewind “Willie” winner Joey Vuyancih earlier this year. Desmond provided the athletic, tough foundation of coach Albert Wilson’s new-look Bengals. Benedictine is the top seed in the Division II Westlake Bracket and will be looking to make a deep run behind the multi-talented Ridenour
Myles Hamilton, Lakewood St. Edward, senior -- Tough, intense and driven to win describes Myles Hamilton in a nutshell. Absolutely the heart of coach Eric Flannery’s somewhat-undersized outfit, Hamilton leaves everything on the court every time out. There is not a more emotional player in the area. Don’t let that distract from Hamilton’s many skills, though. A tough defender with a soft touch from the outside and quickness that will surprise, Myles has the Eagles seeded No. 1 in the Brecksville Sectional and ready for a deep push into March.
Tony Farmer, Garfield Heights, junior -- Farmer represents the younger generation of hardwood stars in Northeast Ohio quite well. The 6-7 junior, who is getting some strong looks from Michigan State and Tom Izzo, is a sight to behold when he is on a roll. Athletic and aggressive, the sight of Farmer with the ball keeps NOC coaches up late. Tony has also stepped up his production as tourney time has approached, torching Mentor last Friday in Garfield Heights in a big fourth quarter to secure the win.
Jack Tupa, Cleveland St. Ignatius, senior – It’s hard to believe a guy with this last name in Cleveland can fly under the radar, but the cousin of High School Hoops Hysteria Rewind All-Star Tom Tupa Jr. is quite the player in his own right. The gritty, hard charging swingman is the undisputed leader of a team that could be dangerous in the tourney because of its tough D and inside game. The Wildcats are a No. 4 seed in a Solon Sectional that could be a meat-grinder
Gavin Skelly, Westlake, sophomore -- The youngest player to receive a “Willie” in the two-year history of the award. Skelly has led the surprising Demons to the top spot of the rugged South Western Conference. Gavin has been a steady inside presence and could develop into one of the best big men, not only in Northeast Ohio, but in the whole country. Definitely a name to watch as he continues to develop, he has the athleticism and willingness to mix it up down on the blocks that has been a trademark of Demon big men dating all the way back to Zach Fiebig. Westlake holds the top seed in the Midview Sectional that will be ultra-competitive.
High School Hysteria Hoops Rewind Coach of the Year
Shawn Hood, Westlake, first season -- Not bad for a debut, now what does he do for an encore? All the former Cleveland State Vikings’ star did was take Westlake to an outright SWC title and the No. 1 seed in the Midview Sectional. Hood’s Demons play a physical, defensive style of basketball that has his team headed in the right direction, despite a noted lack of outside shooting. The coach’s work with young big man Gavin Skelly has been impressive, as it’s not often coaches get consistent production from sophomores in the veteran-laden SWC. Westlake will be expecting big things from Shawn Hood and his Demons in the coming seasons.
Ladies and gentleman that wraps up this year’s High School Hoops Hysteria Rewind All Star team for 2011-2012. Congratulations to all the players on their “Willies” and to Coach Hood. See you all at the tournaments!
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