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Buffington averaged 14 points, 6.5 rebounds and three steals per game and was a 75-percent free throw shooter. On top of that, he was called on each and every night to defend the other team’s top scorer regardless of position.
“Ian was a great defender. He always had the responsibility of guarding the opposing team’s best offensive player regardless of that player’s position. He was equally effective in neutralizing a point guard or power forward,” Weaver said. “Ian developed into a very good two-way basketball player. Offensively, he had the ability to take over a game. Ian has a burst that allows him to blow by defenders and get to the rim. He added a midrange jumper to his arsenal this season that made him ever more difficult to guard.”
“I knew (defending the opponent’s best player) was my role and took that player as my responsibility if they did something,” Buffington said.
Buffington said there was a lot of hard work this past season and it seemed sometimes coaches would ride him, but he knew it was only to make him better.
“To receive this award means a lot to me. I guess all my hard work this season paid off. Each and every day at practice Coach Weaver and the rest of the coaches would ride me to go hard or pick it up when I was slacking. They knew my potential and held me to it,” Buffington said. “Coach Griffiths would get on my case during the games to pick it up and I usually listened or the next practice wouldn’t be pleasant for me.”
This past season was one where the Trojans demonstrated how a team, if playing together, could be better than the sum of its parts. When trying, as Coach Weaver sometimes would call it, “playing one-on-five,” the outcome was less than optimal.
Buffington said he knows that he was selected for the award only because of the effort of the entire UDA team.
“This year our team played as one and I wouldn’t have been able to receive (the POY award) if it wasn’t for (the team),” he said. “Each of us had our own role and that helped with our success. We have been playing together for many years and this year we meshed together. We all had the same goals and each of us strived to achieve them. If one goal we set as a team wasn’t realistic or achievable, we readjusted them and strived toward goals we had set.”
Buffington said he will remember this past season as a successful one because the team played every game to the very end. That, he said, helped the Trojans come back and win some games.
“If we came out flat, our halftimes were short, sweet and to the point. Each coach told us to pick it up as a whole and we usually came out in the second half firing,” Buffington said. “We knew when we weren’t playing well and just needed to be told we were not playing to our potential and then we opened our eyes and started playing the way we know how.”
Buffington usually was the one who would ignite those rallies with a big offensive play or stop on defense.
“Even if we didn’t play the way we were capable of, we usually fixed it in a hurry and all five of us on the court did a little extra and gained momentum. Once we got rolling, we were tough to stop,” Buffington said.
Boys' Basketball Team: Area had a
By Mike Hutchins and Daniel Hutchins, CONTRIBUTING WRITERS
As the Spring 2013 high school sports season ramps up to full speed, we pause to honor the top boys’ basketball players in the Upper Dauphin Sentinel’s coverage area.
It was good season with many great games. There were many seniors who put a stamp on good careers and, maybe more than ever, several freshmen touched the court in varsity games with some making key contributions.
This year’s team not only is comprised of good basketball players, but good young men who represented their schools well during the 2012-13 season.
As always, I will not name a first or second team. Rather, everyone named simply is on the team and would have an opportunity to earn a starting spot if– in a parallel universe – we could suit this team up. I would take this team anywhere and play anyone.
The selections were made by local coaches who responded to our request, respected/knowledgeable fans, other sports writers, myself and my six-year-old son Daniel who attended each game with me. His starting five is listed at the end of the article, and you’ll see he knows what he’s talking about.
Two players from the Wildcats’ squad would be invited to this team.
Senior Kaleb Reitz was a “workhorse down low,” according to Head Coach Dan Bowman. “He did a lot of things that don’t show up on the stat sheet and was the leader of our team. He averaged nine points and seven rebounds per game.’’
Junior Hunter Hilinski was a “big kid that can hit outside shots,’’ the coach said. Hilinski showed flashes of an ability to take over a game, either with hitting big outside shots, taking players to the bucket off the dribble or snagging big rebounds. He averaged 12 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.
Senior Cole Rickert received some recognition as possible Player of the Year but was edged by Upper Dauphin Area’s Ian Buffington (see separate article). Rickert did just about everything asked of him this season as the Eagles qualified for the District 4-AA playoffs. He averaged 14.4 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 3.7 steals per game. He had 10 double-doubles and in three other games, grabbed nine rebounds.
Senior Bill Breinich also had a really good season. He averaged 14 points, 2.2 steals and 6.3 rebounds per game. Breinich hit some big shots for the Eagles and had a memorable game against UDA early in the season with 33 points and 18 rebounds. He also made 79 percent of his free throws.
Senior Travis Lamereaux came off the bench in many games for the Tribe. He was deceptively quick and could bust past a defender or pull up for a big three pointer. He made 40 percent of his three-point attempts while averaging 15 points per game.
Seniors Josh Howard and Dawson Schlegel also received nominations from opposing coaches.
UPPER DAUPHIN AREA
Senior Ian Buffington (see separate story for Player of the Year) was the Trojans’ team leader who averaged 14 points, 6.5 rebounds and three steals per game; made 75 percent of his free throws; and possibly was the top defender in the area.
Senior Austin A. Weaver developed into one of the better post players in the area, according to Head Coach Anthony Weaver. He scored 12.5 points and 9 rebounds per game.
“His ability to control the paint, play solid post defense and rebound have all played a large part in the success of this year’s team,’’ Weaver said.
Senior Kane Bouchard did a lot of dirty work for the Trojans, the kind of player this reporter really likes. Hustle and aggressiveness were key components of his game. He averaged 6.3 points, five rebounds, 2.6 steals and 2.1 assists per game.
“His ability to make big defensive plays and convert these plays into scoring opportunities helped ignite numerous runs this season,’’ Coach Weaver said. ‘‘Kane put a lot of time in over the offseason improving his offensive game.’’
Junior Mac Ney scored 7.1 points and had 2.7 assists per game. “He liked to have the ball in his hands at key moments. He did a good job of creating scoring opportunities for his teammates,” Weaver said.
Freshman Matt Miller was the top newcomer to the area this season and is very deserving of earning a spot on this squad. After starting one junior varsity game, he dropped 20 points on Line Mountain in the Trojans’ double-overtime win early in the season and from that point, was a key contributor, gaining some starts and mostly being the first guy off the bench. He averaged 8.5 points per game and connected on 21 threes this season.
“He had a nice freshman year. He is a creative offensive player who can get to the basket as well as being a consistent midrange perimeter shooter,’’ Coach Weaver said.
Senior Owen Daniel was a great team leader for the Vikings and one of four players who averaged right around 10 points per game. Daniel averaged 10 points a night and nine rebounds.
Senior Colin Harrison put up 10 points a night and hit the boards for seven rebounds a game. He also was a main leader on the Schuylkill League Division 2 championship squad.
Senior Dennis Jansen rounds out the trio of senior leaders for the Vikes. He netted 9.5 points and four assists per game.
Junior Stephen Sedesse probably could earn the award for most improved player this season. He led the Vikings with 11.8 points per game and handed out four assists per night. Need someone to make a big free throw? He would be the one, as he made 85 percent on the season.
No coaches were asked for input in this category, but I felt a special mention needed to be given to some of the new faces on the court.
The future of local boys’ hoops is bright in the hands of these guys: Halifax’s Koby Bowman and Dan Osenbach; UDA’s Miller and Alex Uhler; Williams Valley’s Nick Rodichok; and Millersburg’s Christian Keiter.
My 6-year-old came up with his starting five of UDA’s Buffington and Weaver; Line Mountain’s Breinich; Halifax’s Hilinski; and Daniel from Williams Valley. He said his subs would be Rickert from Line Mountain; Sedesse from Williams Valley; and Lamereaux from Millersburg.
COACH OF THE YEAR
To be honest, this is the toughest thing to choose each year, but the honor this season to coach this team has to go to UDA’s Anthony Weaver. He helped guide the Trojans to a 12-win improvement – from five to 17 games – from the previous season.