McKay, Zurliene are ABV POY's
Coaches Gamber, Schadegg honored as COY's
MT. VERNON – Back in February before the Woodlawn at Sesser-Valier game I noticed that the Cardinals were getting ready to take the floor wearing shirts sponsored by local insurance agent Scott Owens.

So I walked up to Blake McKay, who was getting ready to lead his team out onto the floor and I said “So are you Blake from State Farm?”
It got a chuckle from everyone standing there.

But as I put things into perspective when looking at potential ABV 1A Deep South “Player of the Year” candidates, McKay was just like the slogan of that company.

For four years of varsity basketball (especially in 2019-20) "Like a good neighbor, Blake McKay was there.”

McKay, a 6-foot-2 senior guard, is the 2019-20 ABV “POY” for 1A and with good reason.

The numbers stand out and his performances this season were some of the best in the state.

Before we get to the career numbers, just take a look at his postseason run in 2019-20.

Battling the flu in the regional tournament, he only managed 13 points in a narrow win over Norris City-Omaha-Enfield as Woodlawn survived with a 32-30 win.

He responded two days later with a 23 point showing in a 52-32 win over Wayne City to win the Edwards County 1A Regional.

But he saved some of his best work for what turned out to be his final two games of his prep career.

He scorched Cobden on Tuesday night at the Norris City-Omaha-Enfield 1A Sectional, netting 31 points in the Cardinals 57-43 triumph.

Then in what turned out to be his final high school game, McKay was once again brilliant as he nearly led his team to a comeback victory over Goreville.

The senior guard was nearly unstoppable, hitting for a game best 34 points.

His last second shot that would have tied the game rolled off of the rim in a heartbreaking 59-57 season and prep career ending loss.

His career began as a freshman as he was part of three regional championship teams and a sectional titlist.

McKay averaged 22.8 points a night (798 points in 35 games) along with 4.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists this season.

He ended this fine career with a four-year varsity total of 2,336 points, which puts him in the Top 50 scorers in the long, storied history of Illinois High School Basketball.

As with most great players, he did much more than just score.

McKay also ranks in the Top 10 on the school's career assists list with 354 and with steals with 233.

The senior leader also ripped down 531 rebounds in his career.

He is now a three-time first-team ABV pick, after having been listed after his sophomore and junior seasons.

McKay is signed and ready to be a Bearcat as he is headed to D-2 McKendree University.

“It's really hard to start and find the right words to describe what Blake has meant to me, the Woodlawn basketball program and the community of Woodlawn. I have dreaded this day for four years. The day when he is done. Blake is everything you would want in a high school athlete and, more importantly, a high school student. Blake has put in so much time and hard work to make himself a better player and to make our team better. Blake makes everyone around him better, his teammates and coaches. Blake is a relentless competitor which is why I think him and I had such a close relationship. I will never be able to thank Blake enough for the impact he had not only on me but our program. His leadership towards our younger kids will leave a lasting impact forever. Blake has earned every bit of the recognition he has received because he has done it the right way and worked tirelessly which is what you want when a kid receives the amount of awards and attention that Blake has received. I will always remember all the extra shots after practice and the conversations about the game of basketball,” said Coach Gamber. “But the thing I will remember the most is our conversations about life and how he treats everyone with respect and humility. Blake has been a huge part of my life these past four years and has been like a son of mine. I would do anything for Blake and can not wait to watch him continue his career at the next level. Blake can be an example to all that if you work tirelessly and treat people the right way you can do big things with your life and there is no doubt he has huge things coming his way in the game of life. I will miss him tremendously.”

Breese Mater Dei 6-foot-6 senior forward Caleb Zuliene is the 2A ABV “Player of the Year” for 2019-20.

Zurliene led the Knights to a 30-5 mark and a Final Four berth.

His numbers aren't as gaudy as some of the past winner's of this award but his overall play was just as important.

He finished his senior season scoring 530 points (16.1 p.p.g.) while averaging 5.7 rebounds and he also produced a total of 72 blocked shots, an average of just over two per contest.

Zurliene's field goal percentage improved each year as he ended up hitting 61.1 percent overall this season and 81.1 percent from the foul line.

The senior also was good passing the ball, as he handed out nearly as many assists as he had blocked shots for the season.

Nine times Zurliene scored over 20 points in a game, including back-to-back 27 point outings, first in a regional championship win over rival Breese Central and then in the next game in a sectional semifinal win over Teutopolis.

He scored 12 points, grabbed five rebounds, dished out four assists and blocked two shots in the Knights 46-26 dismantling of Murphysboro in the supersectional.

One could make a case for any of the ABV First Team selections in both 1A/2A for the POY.
Here is a look at some of the others and their stats.

In 1A Conner Heaton of Moweaqua Central A&M had an outstanding career.

He averaged 21 points and 8.7 rebounds a game for this season, including a 28 point effort in the Raiders' supersectional loss to Goreville.

Heaton is one of four players in 1A ABV land with 2K career points. He, like McKay, was voted first team Associated Press all-state.

Six-foot-eight senior Carter Sabol of Nokomis is also a 2K career scorer as the four year starter for Coach Steve Kimbro.

Sabol ended his career as the school's all-time leading scorer with 2,199 points and rebounder with 986.

The other 2,000 point scorer certainly hasn't been a household name in southern Illinois but he is a legit scorer none the less.

Five-foot-nine senior guard Christian Trexler is from Tamms Egyptian.

Trexler is the school's all-time leading scorer with 2,311 points, passing current Missouri State University head coach Dana Ford.

The Pharaohs ended up 26-7 on the season, with Trexler averaging 19.2 points a night along with 4.9 assists.

He was also a 40 percent 3-point shooter, the career leader at Egyptian in assists and he canned 424 3-pointers in his career.

As a junior he won the 3-Point Showdown at the state finals.

Effingham St. Anthony 6-foot-7 senior Jaccob Dust, in just two years of major varsity minutes, improved each season under head coach Cody Rincker.

Dust was an honorable mention all-state player in 2A as a junior and this season he averaged a double-double with 18.7 points and 10.7 rebounds for a 29-3 team that reached the sectional title game.

He ended up with over 1,200 points and nearly 700 rebounds.

In 2A there were some other outstanding performances worthy of recognition.

Six-foot-seven forward Kaleb Applebey of Mt. Carmel averaged a double-double as a junior in 2019-20 with 19.2 points and 12.2 rebounds for a sectional team.

He led the Golden Aces with just over two blocked shots a game and he is drawing college interests in both basketball and football.

Kane Hixenbaugh, a 6-foot-3 senior from Fairfield was the Black Diamond Conference MVP after averaging 13.5 points a game to go with four rebounds while nailing down nearly 60 percent of his field goal attempts for the 28-5 Mules, who lost in the title game of the Carmi-White County 2A Regional title game.

Six-foot-one junior Reece Johnson of Benton led the Rangers to a regional title game win over Fairfield.

Johnson transferred in from Neoga and stepped right into a prominent role with Benton, as he averaged 12.2 points a game, 3.2 rebounds and two assists for the 27-8 club. Sitting at over 1,250 points, he could end up with 2K by the time he is done.

Carson Parker, a 6-foot-5 senior guard, led Nashville to another great season at 28-7 as they reached a sectional title game.

Parker is a two-time ABV 1st team selection and end his career with a 14.1 points per game average and eight rebounds a night.

He was also the top assist man on the Hornets with 3.2 assists and 1.8 steals.

Parker ended up with 1,460 points for his career.

Jacob Schadegg, a 5-foot-10 senior guard for Breese Mater Dei, is the second member of the Knights' 29-5 Final Four team.

Schadegg averaged 14.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.7 steals with 87 made 3-pointers.

He was also a dead-eye from the foul line, pointers. Shot 88.6 percent from the
free throw line (93-of-105).

Pinckneyville senior leader Dawson Yates has been a standout varsity player for the Panthers for the past three seasons and his career 1,576 points is second all- time at the school.

He produced 16 points, 4.6 assists, 2.5 rebounds, 1.9 steals per outing with 50 3 pointers for 53 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3 point range and 81 percent from the free throw line.

No team got got more than two selections.

As with the previous year's, the ABV lists will be scrutinized. But, as always, I stand by my selections.

Most importantly these awards are about the kids and the coaches listed.

If you, as a fan, have a comment that is disparaging to the ones chosen then send it to me.

Don't post it on social media and embarrass some young man. If you have a complaint send it to me.

Like Harry Truman said - "The Buck Stops Here."

ABV probably could make a case for several others to be on the list and others for POY.

As stated after the 2016 season, ABV will no longer do mulitple COY awards.

There are literally dozens of outstanding coaching performances this year who could get the award.

Names of the players are listed in alphabetical order by first name.

I'm sure there will be one or two of them with misspelled names or the wrong class. I can fix those later.

Player Of The Year
Blake McKay - Woodlawn
Coach Of The Year
Brian Gamber - Woodlawn
ABV First Team (In Alphabetical Order)
Aiden Jahraus – Altamont – Sr.
Blake McKay - Woodlawn – Sr.
Carter Sabol – Nokomis – Sr.
Christian Trexler - Egyptian – Sr.
Connor Heaton – Central A&M – Sr.
Jaccob Dust – St. Anthony – Sr.
Jackson Heckert – Okawville – Sr.
Noah Franklin – Cobden – Jr.
Sebastion Ivory-Greer – Marissa – Sr.
Trent Glidewell – Goreville – Sr.
ABV Honorable Mention (In Alphabetical Order)
Alex Tosetti – Nokomis – Sr.
Andy Goldsborough – SEB – Sr.
Austin Hagel - Steeleville – Sr.
Brayden Hatcher – Grayville – Jr.
Bryce Pratt – Christopher – Sr.
Cole Niebrugge – Dieterich – Sr.
Dawson Hish – Gallatin County – Sr.
Dawson White – Elverado – Sr.
Derek Kuhl – Dieterich – Jr.
Deurice Morse – Cairo – Sr.
Garrett Gunter – Sesser-Valier – Jr.
Gavin Fetherling – Cisne – So.
Griffin Andricks – Central A&M – Sr.
Hunter Throgmorton – Crab Orchard – Sr.
Jack Hoene – Effingham St. Anthony – Sr.
Jacksen Harre – Okawville – Jr.
Jackson Eddington – Pope County – Sr.
Jackson Hills – Casey-Westfield – So.
Jake Vaughn – Hardin County – So.
Joe Brumleve – Cobden – Sr.
Joe Melton – NCOE – Jr.
Joe Range – New Athens – Sr.
Kaiden Eirhart – Altamont – Jr.
Kaiden Taylor – Wayne City – Sr.
Keenin Willshire – South Central – So.
Kegan Peek – Crab Orchard – Jr.
Landon Albright – Goreville – Sr.
Logan Jones – Marissa – Sr.
Lucas Shaffer - Odin – Sr.
Luke Fleener – North Clay – Sr.
Noah Livingston – Casey-Westfield – Jr.
Peyton Bates – Sesser-Valier – Sr.
Race Rynski – Woodlawn – Sr.
Sam Britt – Christ Our Rock Lutheran – Sr.
Travis Dickey - Wayne City – Sr.
Trevor Roy – Neoga – Sr.
Tye Money – NCOE – Jr.
Tyler Alexander - Patoka - Sr.
Tyrone Huff – Egyptian – Jr.
Tyson Jones – North Clay – Sr.
Wyatt Criner – Mulberry Grove – Sr.
Player Of The Year
Caleb Zurliene – Breese Mater Dei – Sr.
Coach Of The Year
Ron Schadegg – Breese Mater Dei
ABV First Team (In Alphabetical Order)
Caleb Zurliene – Breese Mater Dei – Sr.
Calvon Clemens – Murphysboro – So.
Carson Parker – Nashville – Sr.
Daniel Tingley – Marshall – Jr.
Dawson Yates – Pinckneyville – Sr.
Jacob Schadegg - Breese Mater Dei – Sr.
Kaleb Applebey – Mt. Carmel – Jr.
Kane Hixenbaugh - Fairfield – Sr.
Luke Ervie – Freeburg – Sr.
Reece Johnson – Benton – Jr.
ABV Honorable Mention (In Alphabetical Order)
Andrew Ambrose – Pana – Jr.
Austin Brown - Johnston City – So.
Beau Stipp - Mt. Carmel – Jr.
Blake Pena – Anna-Jonesboro – Sr.
Blayne Winningham – Lawrenceville – Sr.
Bradon Thomas – Breese Central – Sr.
Braeden Purcell – DuQuoin – Sr.
Brayden Childress – Robinson – Sr.
Brett Terry - Alton Marquette – Sr.
Carlos Keen – Sparta – Sr.
Carson Lewis – Benton – Sr.
Carter Wiegard – Red Bud – Sr.
Colin Brueggemann – Freeburg – Jr.
Deondre Martin – Chester – Sr.
Dre Scott – Pinckneyville – Jr.
Eli Downen – Carterville – Sr.
Ethan Booth – Staunton – Sr.
Ethan Culley – West Frankfort – Sr.
Ethan Mahon – Carmi-White County – Sr.
Garrett Austin – Vandalia – Sr.
Gavin Huffman – Roxana – Jr.
Grant Fridley – Wesclin – Fr.
Gus Walden – Hamilton County – Sr.
Haddon Lybarger – Salem – Jr.
Hayden Hoffmann – Carlyle – So.
Ian Reith – Chester – Sr.
Jackson Holmes – Columbia – Jr.
Jacob Golenor – Roxana – Sr.
Jadon Wallace – Marshall – Sr.
Jaquan Jackson – Murphysboro – Jr.
Jonah Lauff – Pana – Sr.
Julian Russell - Massac County - Sr.
Kyle Schafer – Newton – Sr.
Ladayyea Sheumaker – Eldorado – Sr.
Mason Hutchings – Paris – Jr.
Michael Byots – Carlinville – Sr.
Spencer Cox – Alton Marquette – Sr.
Terry Pelcynski – Nashville – Sr.
Will Gibbs – Harrisburg – Sr.
Wyatt Gilbert - Fairfield – Sr.
Zach Travis – Massac County – Sr.