JOHNSONBURG – With two sophomores combining for nearly 750 points and a host of skilled contributors shutting down the opposition during the 2011-2012 basketball season, the Johnsonburg Rams have a lot to be excited about.
"This team was fun to watch and the community definitely got behind them," said Johnsonburg head boys varsity basketball coach Bill Shuey during a banquet Sunday honoring the team. "There are some talented young men here and I know as they grow as persons and as basketball players, you will see a lot more consistency out of them and our future as a basketball team is very bright."
Coming off a 23-6 overall record, the Rams earned runner-up finishes in the Elk County Holiday Basketball Tournament and the District 9 playoffs, and ended their season with a 50-45 loss March 13 in double-overtime in the second round of the Class A state playoffs at Clarion University.
The team was ranked seventh overall in the state amongst Class A schools and had an undefeated record of 12-0 on their home floor.
One of the more exciting aspects of the season for coach Shuey was the flexibility that he had as a head coach this season.
"This game is about match-ups and depending on you're playing, we had the flexibility this year to be able to put people on the floor that matched up better against our opponent," coach Shuey said. "That really paid off in a lot of games. When we were going against tall teams, we put in taller players; we went small when we had to also. In the first round of the state playoffs against Bishop Carrol, once we got their tall player off the floor, we were able to match up a lot better with them.
"It is a game of match-ups and the way the season worked out, most of the players were interchangeable and that gave us a lot of flexibility as coaches."
The coaching staff presented several awards to outstanding players, including the Most Valuable Utility Award to Mitchell Holmberg.
Holmberg finished the season with 182 points, good enough for a 6.3 points-per-game average. Holmberg also had 21 3-pointers, 52 assists, 95 rebounds, and 22 steals.
Frank Kocjancic took home the Highest Shooting Percentage Award. He hit 68 out of 110 attempts from the field, good enough for for 61.8 percent.
The Coaches Award went to Quinn Luhr.
"We thought about this player and he is definitely worthy of this award," coach Shuey. "Last year, this player was in the thick of things and then after [Bill Bliss] got hurt, this player was thrown in as a big man this year. We got Mike [Shuey] back this year and then lost [Bliss], so we had to use this player on some of the opposing teams' wing people.
"[Luhr] tried very hard and he isn't the quickest guy on the court but he's very dedicated to the game. He'd stay after a lot after practices to do some extra shooting and there were times where he sat on the bench wondering why he wasn't in the game, but he took it all with a smile and was always back in the gym ready to go at it again."
Kyle Sheldon took home the Hustle Award. Sheldon finished with 110 points on the season along with 60 rebounds and 40 steals.
"This is for somebody who was there on the floor giving it his all in practice and when things weren't going so well, maybe he slapped the wall a couple of times and said some things under his breath, but he has a heart as big as the gymnasium," coach Shuey said. "The effort he put into this is unmatched by anyone. When we talked about a Hustle Award, there was no one else who came to mind except Kyle Sheldon."
The team's Defensive MVP Award was earned by Michael Shuey.
"This award goes to the gentleman with the most rebounds for the team with 192 and the most blocked shots with 44, and he had 63 steals," coach Shuey said.
With two sophomores accumulating nearly 750 points combined, the coaching staff presented co-Offensive MVP Awards to Cameron Grumley and Cole Peterson.
"Looking over the statistics, people will understand that when we were looking to give out an offensive MVP award, we had to do co-offensive MVP awards," coach Shuey said.
Peterson finished with 367 points, a 12.7 points-per-game average, a 55-percent field goal average, 61 percent from 2-point range, 40 percent from 3-point range, and 68 percent from the free throw line. In addition, Peterson dished out 103 assists, had five blocked shots, 109 rebounds, and 76 steals.
"What a year," coach Shuey said. "That's why he was elected to the First Team for District 9."
Grumley finished the 2011-2012 season with 377 points, an average of 13 points a game while shooting 47 percent from the field, 50 percent from 2-point range, and 36 percent from 3-point range. In addition, Grumley was 66 percent from the free throw line, amassed 95 assists, 14 blocked shots, 112 rebounds, and came up with 82 steals.
"Their statistics were all very similar and they seemed to have a knack for knowing where they were at on the floor," coach Shuey said. "More than once I sat there and asked the coaches, 'How did they do that?' There were a lot of moves and a lot of excitement, and just knowing where your teammates are at with the passing is very special.
"We felt that you can't have a Cam without a Cole or a Cole without a Cam. That's why we have a co-MVP."