Devils rake in postseason honors
After a 12-2 conference record and 17-6 overall record, Eagle Valley basketball coach Phil Cain knew his team was holding a pretty good hand when it came to the poker game that is the all-league selection meeting.
Sure enough, the Devils ended up with a full house, as senior guard Jerad Schlegel and junior center Cody Gerard wound up with first-team all-3A Slope honors, while seniors Dylan Barkman, Sean Bartlett and junior Kevin Cruz earned honorable mentions.
“Five of our starters got some recognition which I’m really proud of,” said Cain after Wednesday night’s postseason awards banquet. “For our guys to be recognized as all-league players in that capacity is great.”
Gerard and Schlegel both proved to be contrasts to one another in terms of playing style and attitude on the court, but together they were a powerful force in the 2003-04 season.
At 5-foot-11, Schlegel was the downvalley version of St. Joes’ Jameer Nelson, a bull-headed point guard who hustled for every second of the game and fought for every point he scored. He finished the season averaging 10 points per game.
“Besides his ability to shoot from the outside and to penetrate, he just plays really hard,” Cain said.” He was the most intense person on our team in terms of being determined and having a desire to do well. He was one of our vocal leaders. When the game was on the line, he usually was running the point.”
Gerard was the Devils’ smooth big man in the middle, the scorer that Cain depended on every night to carry the offensive load and to make the big free throws when the game was on the line. He was also versatile, being able to knock down 3-pointers along with throwing his shoulders around underneath the basket to score the tough points.
“Cody’s role offensively was relying on him for a high output every night,” Cain said. “He’s a consistent shooter in close, and we always looked to get him the ball at the end of the game. He shot 80 percent from the free-throw line this year.”
Gerard was the Devils’ leading scorer, averaging 20 points per game for the season.
The Devils’ other two seniors to earn honorable mention were also valuable assets to what was a very selfless unit.
Bartlett, while not as fiery as Schlegel or Barkman, was a very aggressive competitor who did it all – score points, pull down rebounds and ‘D’ up on the other team’s best player. He averaged 9.5 points a game.
“Sean played a great role this season,” Cain said. “Defensively, man-to-man, he could match up with any big guy that we asked him to. He also played as hard as he did, even though he was fighting a back injury.”
Barkman also worked a similar selfless post, as he focused more on his defense and rebounding than he did on scoring points. The Devils other big man ended up averaging two blocks a game to go along with six rebounds.
“Dylan did a good job of blocking shots and rebounding for us,” Cain said. “He clogged up the middle, sometimes a little too much, but he did it with a lot of enthusiasm.”
Kruz was also a big part of Eagle Valley’s success, averaging eight points per game.
Contact Nate Peterson at 949-0555 ext. 608 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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