2021-22 Lawrence Journal-World All-Area Teams: Boys Basketball

Coach of the Year: Sam Stroh, Free State

photo by: Contributed photo

Free State basketball coach Sam Stroh shows off his brand new Michael Jordan-autographed ball which he received at an event in 2012 in New York City, where he got to meet Jordan.

Free State High coach Sam Stroh led the Firebirds to their sixth straight appearance in the Class 6A state tournament, reaching the semifinals yet again and finishing with a third-place trophy to add to the trophy case. As has been common during his seven years with the program, Stroh used every bit of depth the Firebirds had on their roster and also did a solid job of blending newcomer Jordan Brown into a group that had played together for a while. Stroh also was named the Sunflower League Coach of the Year.

Player of the Year: Zaxton King, Lawrence High

Lawrence senior Truman Juelsgaard (11) high fives sophomore Zaxton King (24) during the sub-state championship against Olathe West. Lawrence lost 73-69 in overtime on Saturday, March 5, 2022.

Named the Sunflower League’s Sophomore of the Year, LHS guard Zaxton King finished the season averaging an area-best 19.1 points per game while adding 4.5 rebounds per game and 1.8 assists and 1.9 steals. He showed the ability to play at all three levels, knocking down outside shots, scoring off the drive and in mid-range and also playing above the rim. It was clear early on that King would be the focal point for opposing defenses, but many teams still had trouble slowing him down. King helped lead the Lions to a 17-5 overall record and an 11-2 mark in Sunflower League play, which was good for second place.

Mozae Downing, Free State

Free State senior Mozae Downing #2 during the Boys Class 6A State Tournament at Koch Arena. Free State advances with a 50-28 win over Manhattan on Thursday, March 10, 2022 in Wichita, Kansas.

The talented guard helped lead the Firebirds to a third-place finish at state, using his offensive and defensive prowess to create problems for opponents, night in and night out. Taking on the role of Mr. Steady, Mozae Downing finished with averages of seven points, four assists and four rebounds per game, while also recording one steal per contest.

Jordan Brown, Free State

photo by: Chance Parker

Free State senior Jordan Brown drives the ball against Shawnee Mission Northwest Friday, Dec. 17, 2021.

In his first year with the Firebirds, the Basehor-Linwood transfer eclipsed 1,000 points for his prep career and proved to be a dangerous weapon for the third-place finishers in Class 6A. Jordan Brown averaged 14 points per game on 37% 3-point shooting and was also often the spark that fired up the entire team, especially on the offensive end. He added two rebounds and one assist per game in helping lead FSHS to a 23-2 season.

Pearse Long, Lawrence High

photo by: Chance Parker

Lawrence junior forward Pearse Long brings the ball up court against Grandview Saturday afternoon at Blue Valley High School on Dec. 12, 2020. The Lions defeated the Bulldogs, 67-59, to improve to 4-0 on the year.

The 6-foot-5 LHS senior finished the season averaging 13.2 points and five rebounds per game while shooting 83% from the free throw line. Pearse Long stepped into more of a leadership role this season and helped lead the Lions to a 17-5 record and the doorstep of another trip to the 6A state tournament.

Sam Hertzog, Bishop Seabury

The senior guard earned second-team all Kaw Valley Conference honors this season in leading the Seabury program on both ends of the floor. Sam Hertzog’s biggest highlight came against Kansas City Christian in late January, when he scored a school-record 45 points.

Jordan Donaldson, Veritas Christian

Jordan Donaldson finished the 2021-22 season as the Eagles’ leading scorer and second-leading rebounder and earned MVP honors at the KCAA Class 1A state championship. He also was named to the first team all-tournament squad at the season-ending Kansas Approved School Classic, where he tallied a 33-point game and helped lead VCS to a runner-up finish.

Jaden Hamm, Eudora

photo by: Courtesy photo

Jaden Hamm, Eudora

EHS’s junior big man Jaden Hamm averaged 12 points and eight rebounds per game for Kyle Deterding’s squad, adding 1.5 blocks per game, as well. He was one of three Cardinals to average in double figures and helped lead Eudora to another trip to the Class 4A state tournament and an 18-4 overall record.

Caleb Carr, Baldwin

Called by BHS coach Donald Blanchat “the catalyst of our defense,” Carr helped lead the Bulldogs to eight wins after recording just two a season ago. Blanchat said every aspect of the junior point guard’s game improved during the 2021-22 season, which ended with him averaging 17.9 points, 4.2 assists and 3.5 steals per game.

Cole Mahaffey, Baldwin

The senior forward nearly averaged a double-double for Baldwin, finishing at 15.2 points and eight rebounds per game. His biggest night of the season came against Bonner Springs, when he led Baldwin to a win by scoring 37 points and grabbing nine rebounds.

Andrew Wilson, Tonganoxie

Andrew Wilson

Known as the Chieftains’ team leader, who liked to lead first by example, Wilson finished with averages of 16 points, six rebounds and 3.5 assists while playing on the wing and operating as the team’s point guard in many situations. The three-year starter was also a first team all-Frontier League selection and THS coach Phillip Jones said Wilson could have averaged 20 points per game if he wanted to be more selfish.

Honorable Mention: Enzo Karam, Bishop Seabury; Aden-Jay Baker and Owen Welch, Veritas; Logan Sullivan and Traeger Rader, Eudora; Avion Nelson, Truman Juelsgaard and Baylor Bowen, Lawrence; Zane Novotney, Tonganoxie; Jailen Thompson, Cam Edwards, Dash Cleveland, Cooper Jackson and Jet Dineen, Free State.


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