YAIAA All-Stars: 3 unsung heroes (Column)
Northeastern senior starters Brandon Coleman and Austin Greene stood out for their leadership and fearless attitudes this season during the boys' basketball team's run to a state semifinal.
You know, it's funny.
As a reporter, you identify with the teams you cover. Their style of play, their personalities, the thrilling wins and gut-wrenching defeats can make an impact on you — even if you don't know it at the time.
Needless to say, picking GameTimePA All-Stars at the end of every semester presents a challenge. I go over every detail, get many perspectives, and make a call. Not everyone can make first-team — in boys' basketball for instance, that honor was reserved for six players. That's a narrow margin for error.
With that, here's three local athletes who aren't on that illustrious list, but who I'll remember as All-Stars when I think back to the 2017 boys' basketball season:
Brandon Coleman, Northeastern senior
Would the Bobcats have made the PIAA Class 5A semifinals without Coleman. Nope. No way.
He did it all for the team. At 6-foot-4, Coleman played big against taller opponents throughout the postseason. He rebounded, and he was a streaky shooter yet had to be accounted for on the perimeter. And he threw down dunks that electrified the crowd at pivotal moments of games.
In short, Coleman was the Bobcats' X-Factor. Opposing teams knew what they were getting against Fred Mulbah and Antonio Rizzuto. Coleman, on the other hand, often determined what direction Northeastern would go in on a nightly basis. The team finished the season 30-3, and he came on strong during their postseason run.
On the year, he averaged 14 points, seven rebounds and two assists per game.
Coach's quote: "We don't do what we did without him. When we needed someone to make a play, he was able to make it."
— Jon Eyster, Northeastern head coach
Austin Greene, Northeastern senior
Greene embraced his role as the Bobcats' point guard.
Not every player can average double-digit scoring figures on a high-octane team. And it takes a certain player to accept being the fourth or fifth option in such an offense.
Greene most certainly did that.
Did he attempt a 3-pointer this season? I can't recall. I do remember him as a leader on the Bobcats, and as a player teammates respected and believed in. You couldn't ask for a higher compliment, by the way.
Through it all, he proved to be extremely valuable. Frankly, his importance only seemed to increase as the year went on, when Greene dictated the outcome of many games during the Bobcats' playoff run.
Greene averaged nine points, along with five assists and five rebounds per contest. With that, the only stat he truly seemed to care about was winning, and it showed.
Coach's quote: "What AG brought was grit....He tore ligaments (in his foot) and played his last game that way. For me, what fantastic seniors to have."
— Jon Eyster, Northeastern head coach
Courtney Batts, Central York senior
The Panthers reached the YAIAA and District 3 championship games last year, yet lost some firepower and leadership to graduation. They returned a core of experienced players, however, with Batts as one of five seniors on the 2017 roster.
His presence proved to be invaluable.
The Panthers got off to a slow start this year as a sub-.500 team before they took off in league play. By the end of the year, Central handed Northeastern one of its three losses, reached the YAIAA championship game and won a District 3 playoff contest.
Through it all, Batts was a steady senior leader and proved to be a versatile contributor. He could shoot, handle the ball, drive to the bucket and dunk. He was also a key member on a team notorious for playing strong defense on a nightly basis.
The starting point guard and team captain led the Panthers with 12.5 points per game. He was also among the team's leaders with 5.5 rebounds per contest.
Coach's quote: "Courtney always was athletic and had talent. But it took him awhile to learn how to work hard to reach that potential. That growth and maturity helped us tremendously this year. All our seniors were tremendous."
-- Kevin Schieler, Central York head coach