Huot, Lee, Sharbono and DeCock join Peterson on All-Area first team
Minnesota has been developing into one of the top high school hoops hotbeds in the nation in recent years. Currently, Twins Cities metro stars Tyus Jones of Apple Valley High School, Rashad Vaughn of Robbinsdale Cooper and Reid Travis of DeLaSalle are three of the top prep recruits in the nation at their positions.
Like the metro, the Marshall area has also seen an influx of basketball talent as many players have been spending extra time in the gym working on their game both during and outside of the season. The hard work has paid off for many teams as multiple area squads spent substantial portions of the 2012-13 season ranked among the top 10 in the state in their respective classes.
The Marshall Tigers had a whole host of players who could do it all – score from anywhere inside and around the 3-point arc, handle the ball on the break, create scoring opportunities for their teammates and rebound and defend at a high level. Instead of relying on one or two star players, the Tigers were a true team, and the chemistry the players have developed over the years translated into stunning success under first-year head coach Travis Carroll.
Ranked in the top 10 in Class AAA through much of the season, the Tigers advanced to the state tournament and took third place, with their only loss coming to then-unbeaten Austin in the semifinals. Marshall’s quarterfinals win over Grand Rapids was the program’s first state tournament victory since 1970.
A few of the area’s Class A squads were also among the state’s best, though they couldn’t quite get past eventual state champion Southwest Minnesota Christian in the Section 3A playoffs. Led by the talented trio of Nathaniel Huot, Joey Lee and Michael Lee, Dawson-Boyd was ranked among the top 10 in the class through most of the season, advancing to the section championship for the second straight year before losing to SWC. Fellow Camden Conference squad Canby also had a strong season, using a well-balanced scoring attack on its way to a 19-7 season.
But the kings of the Camden Conference were the Knights of Russell-Tyler-Ruthton, who were ranked fifth in Class A for a large portion of the season. With do-it-all junior point guard Brett Peterson, the 2013 Independent Player of the Year, orchestrating an offense that had multiple scoring threats, the Knights rolled to a perfect record in conference play and defeated Dawson-Boyd twice. The only team to beat the Knights during their 27-2 season was SWC, once in an 80-78 overtime thriller on Jan. 5 and (19 straight RTR wins later) the second time in the Section 3A-South championship.
Peterson has been getting scholarship offers from multiple Division II programs, and for good reason. He averaged nearly 20 points per game, 5.7 rebounds per game, 4.8 assists per game and was one of the state’s leaders in steals. And he still has a year left of high school ball.
ROUNDING OUT THE STARTING FIVE
– A fearless slasher to the rim, Red Rock Central’s Jeff DeCock got the most out of his ultra-athletic 6-foot-2 frame during a standout senior season for the Falcons. He used his quickness to attack seams in the defense and get to the hoop, then was able to hang in the air over defenders to finish with acrobatic baskets. DeCock ended the year averaging 22 points per game, the second-best scoring average in the area. His 1,376 career points puts him second on RRC’s all-time list. With 226 free throw attempts, he got to the foul line 71 times more than the area player with the next-highest total. Once there he shot 70.8 percent.
Not only was DeCock one of the area’s best scorers, but he was also a top distributor. He finished first in the area in total assists with 146, many of which came while he drove through the lane to draw in the defense and kicked out a pass to an open teammate. DeCock also had 52 steals this season and averaged 6.7 rebounds per game.
– The area’s best sharp-shooter from long distance, Dawson-Boyd’s Nathaniel Huot made opponents pay dearly for leaving him open on the perimeter. The senior guard drilled 101 3-point field goals during the season, 25 more than the player with the next-best total. Sometimes it didn’t matter if defenders got out to the 3-point line to guard him, as he frequently hit from well behind the arc.
Huot, who was selected as Independent Player of the Year last season, finished the 2012-13 season with 499 points in 28 games, scoring at a clip of 17.8 points per game. He also averaged 4.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game while earning All-Camden Conference honors. Huot was selected as one of the state’s 40 best seniors and will compete in the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association All-Star Basketball Series this weekend.
– One of the area’s best all-around guards, Dawson-Boyd junior Joey Lee lands back on the All-Area first team after stuffing the stat sheet once again. Lee led the Blackjacks in scoring at 18.1 points per game, which ranked fourth in the area. Attacking the basket, hitting mid-range jumpers or striking from long distance, Lee could score in just about every way. He finished with 38 3-pointers and shot 51 percent from the field.
Lee was also among the area leaders in multiple other categories. The 6-1 guard was 11th in the area in rebounding at 6.3 boards per game, he ranked third in the area with 143 assists and he was second in the area with 81 steals.
– Having seen little action during his sophomore season, Riley Sharbono stepped to the stage as a junior and provided a huge lift for the Marshall Tigers during their run to the state tournament. The 6-foot-2 guard used his high basketball IQ to exploit opposing defenses and as a result led the Tigers in scoring at 13.7 points per game. He also shot a team-best 55 percent from the field. An aggressive slasher to the basket, Sharbono got to the foul line with great frequency. He connected on 83.2 percent of his 125 free throw attempts, the second-best percentage in the area.
Despite being a guard, Sharbono was a strong rebounder and averaged 4.3 boards per game. He had 50 offensive rebounds for the season, the second-best total on the team. Sharbono also finished with 41 assists and 34 steals. He earned All-Tournament team honors for his role in helping Marshall to its third-place finish, leading the Tigers in scoring in two of their three games.
– Versatile 6-5 forward Dylan Kor developed a well-rounded game during his career at Russell-Tyler-Ruthton and put it on display during his senior season. Able to score around the basket with low-post moves, Kor could also step back and consistently knock down mid-range jumpers. He shot 67.9 percent from the field for the season and averaged 15.0 points per game, ranking 10th in the area.
Kor was also one of the best-passing post players in the area, finishing 10th in area in total assists with 91. He ended the year seventh in the area in rebounding at 7.9 per game and also blocked 36 shots, the fourth-highest total in the area.
– Playing with two of the top guards in the area, Dawson-Boyd’s Michael Lee provided the Blackjacks with a presence inside during their run to the section championship game. Using his 6-4 frame to his advantage, the sophomore forward averaged 17.1 points per game and shot 47 percent from the field. When he had a size advantage in the post he could score down low, or he could draw out the defense and hit shots from beyond the 3-point arc. He finished with 24 3-pointers during the season.
Even as a forward, Lee possessed strong ball-handling skills and had 59 total assists. He finished fifth in the area in rebounding at 9.4 per game. He also blocked 47 shots, the third-best total in the area, and used his length to come up with 42 steals.
– Center Henry Rogotzke gave Red Rock Central a multi-tooled big man who nicely complemented athletic guard Jeff DeCock. The 6-5 senior averaged a double-double with 16.9 points and 10.7 rebounds per game while helping lead the Falcons to a 16-10 overall record and a tie for third-place in the Red Rock Conference behind state qualifiers Southwest Minnesota Christian and Mountain Lake Area.
Double and triple teamed in many games, Rogotzke learned to handle the ball well and find open teammates. He ranked 11th in the area in total assists with 88. Rogotzke was also a strong low-post defender, finishing second in the area with 63 blocks while also averaging just under two steals per game.
– Seeming to step up his game whenever Marshall faced a highly-touted team, guard Austin Saugstad provided a reliable on-court leader for the Tigers as a senior. Against then-third-ranked Blake, Saugstad had a 26-point, 11-rebound performance in a 68-58 upset victory on Feb. 2 that helped vault the Tigers up the rankings. He also had 17 points, going 10-for-13 from the foul line, to help Marshall clinch the Class AAA third-place trophy in a win over St. Paul Johnson. Saugstad finished the year averaging 11.5 points per game while shooting at a 52 percent clip from the field.
Saugstad also ranked ninth in the area in assists with 97, and gave the Tigers a boost on the boards averaging 4.6 rebounds per game. An in-your-face perimeter defender, Saugstad finished fifth in the area in steals with 66 and earned All-Southwest Conference honors.
– A catalyst for the Canby Lancers as they nearly doubled their win total from a season ago, junior Michael Slaba was a key cog in his team’s turnaround season. The athletic 6-foot guard with a quick first step led the well-balanced Lancers scoring attack with 12.7 points per game and shot 52 percent from the field. He was one of three players on the team to hit 30-plus 3-pointers on the season, knocking down 36 of them. Slaba was also a reliable free throw shooter and hit 71.7 percent of his 92 attempts.
An All-Camden Conference selection, Slaba was both a strong perimeter defender and a great distributor. He finished tied for sixth in the area in steals with 61 and was fifth in the area with 132 assists.