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Boys basketball: Here's the 2023-24 West Central Tribune All-Area Team

Mar. 29—The small schools in west central Minnesota punched above their weight on the basketball court.

This season's iteration of the West Central Tribune's All-Area Boys Basketball Team features 10 players from Class A schools. In total, 11 teams are represented on the squad, led by three from Dawson-Boyd. The Blackjacks were ranked second in the final Class A state poll from the Minnesota Basketball News and went 26-3.

Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa and Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg each had two selections. BBE is a class A school while KMS was moved to AA this season.

Two players from the Camden Conference — Dawson-Boyd's Brayson Boike and KMS' DeAndre Holloway — are repeat members of the first team. Among the graduating classes, seniors and juniors got equal representation. There' are seven seniors, seven juniors and one sophomore that made the All-Area cut.

In the postseason, Central Minnesota Christian (19-11) made the deepest run among area squads, reaching the Section 3A-North championship despite being a three seed in the sub-section. Also of note, BBE (20-9) reached the 6A-South championship and Montevideo (21-7) was the top seed in 3AA-North.

Here is the 2023-24 West Central Tribune All-Area Boys Basketball Team (in alphabetical order):

Jr. 6-7 guard, Dawson-Boyd

It's a repeat performance for Dawson-Boyd's Brayson Boike. He's on the All-Area first team for the second straight season. He's the Camden Conference North Division's Player of the Year for the second striaght season. And he's an all-conference pick for the third straight season after helping the Blackjacks maintain a top-five ranking in Class A throughout the 2023-24 season.

Boike finished with 26.0 points per game on 50% shooting, including 36% from 3-point range. He also averaged 11.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.9 blocks and 1.3 steals per game for the 26-3 Blackjacks. Boike also became D-B's all-time leading scorer this season, beating the previous mark of 1,678 set by Michael Lee in 2015.

"Brayson scores in a multitude of ways," said Blackjacks head coach Cory Larson. "(He) shoots the ball exceptionally well from 3-point range and off the dribble. (He's) comfortable playing with his back to the basket. (He's) capable of defending any position."

Sr. 6-4 forward, BBE

Luke Dingmann concludes his basketball career with Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa as one of the Jaguars' top players in program history.

A second team All-Area pick last season, Dingmann led his team in every major category in 2023-24. He recorded 18.0 points, 11.9 rebounds, 6.7 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks per game for the Jaguars. BBE finished 20-9 and reached the Section 6A-South championship.

"Luke Dingmann is an absolute top tier competitor and player," said Jaguars head coach Chris Anderson. "He broke the all-time rebound record at BBE this season and finished third all time in scoring. He had an outstanding season and career for us. He led our team in points, rebounds, steals, assists, and blocks.

"One of the best attributes he brings each game is how unselfish he is. He set his teammates up for success frequently each game. Luke also was a highlight reel with his ability to play above the rim. It was an absolute joy to be able to coach Luke for so many years."

Sr. 6-7 forward, KMS

DeAndre Holloway is back on the All-Area first team following the conclusion of his career at Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg.

Holloway scored 27.9 points per game and became the Fighting Saints' all-time leading scorer with 1,565 career points. A two-time All-Camden Conference pick, Holloway also snagged 12.4 rebounds, had 2.1 steals, 2.0 blocks and 1.7 assists per game.

KMS finished with a 15-11 record.

"DeAndre is a pure scorer," said Fighting Saints head coach Matt Fragodt. "What makes it tough for other teams to guard DeAndre is not only his size but he is able to shoot the ball also. He also can get to the basket off the dribble. He has really toughened up this last year and became a leader on our team. Defensively he is very long and does a good job on both post and guard players.

"He loves basketball and he has a basketball with him all the time. He also was able to break a 60-year-old record for scoring in boys basketball."

Sr. 6-2 guard/forward, NLS

Grant Paffrath makes the jump up from the third team last season.

Paffrath earned All-Wright County Conference honors by averaging 25 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 steal per game. Paffrath was named the Bremer Bank Holiday Classic MVP. He helped the Wildcats to a 13-14 record.

Paffrath is slated to play basketball and football at Division III Concordia College in Moorhead.

"Grant had an extraordinary senior season," said NLS head coach Skip Wright. "This season he proved to be one of the toughest covers for opposing teams to deal with in this part of the state. Grant is a three-year starter and has a career average of 20 points per game.

"During this time, he has consistently been one of our hardest workers, a leader and great teammate. It has just been a pleasure to coach Grant and see him grow into the fine young man and the player he is today."

Sr. 6-0 guard, MACCRAY

A member of the All-Area second team since his sophomore season, MACCRAY's Isaac Post makes the first team in his final go-around.

Post capped off his senior campaign with 17.9 points per game, hitting 50.4% percent of his shots, including 39.2% from 3 and 78.3% on free throws. The All-Camden Conference pick also had 4.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.8 steals per game. Post eclipsed 1,000 career points this season and made the Bremer Bank Holiday Classic All-Tournament Team. The Wolverines went 18-10.

"Isaac had a tremendous season on both sides of the ball this year," said MACCRAY head coach Lucas Post. "He was very efficient offensively scoring from all three levels while also shooting a high percentage from the free-throw line. He finished averaging just under 18 points/game while attempting only 13 shots per game. ... Isaac was the focal point of most defenses we faced this season and was able to amass 12 games of at least 20 points and one game over 30, he was able to score at that clip while setting a career high in assists this season with 114.

"He routinely was tasked with guarding the opposing teams best player and generally held them down offensively. He lead our team in steals (50) and was second in blocks (19)."

Jr. 6-1 guard, CMCS

Drew Duininck was a driving force for Central Minnesota Christian being the Section 3A-North champion.

Patrolling the backcourt for the 19-11 Bluejays, Duininck averaged 17.9 points, 4 rebounds, 3.5 assists ad 2.3 steals per game. He was named All-Camden Conference.

"Drew is a true competitor who brings the same intensity to practice as to games," said CMCS head coach Ted Taatjes. "He can score at all three levels and is a willing passer with great court vision to get his teammates involved. While leading us in scoring, he was a solid defender who also led our team in steals.

"As a captain this year he was instrumental in guiding some of the younger players on the court as they stepped into larger roles mid-season."

Jr. 6-5 guard, BOLD

Jack Gross returns to the All-Area second team.

The standout junior scored 24.9 points per game, hitting 46% of his 3-pointers and 73% of his free throws. He also averaged 6.1 rebounds, 5 assists and 2.5 steals per game while earning an All-West Central Conference nod.

With Gross leading the way, BOLD finished 14-13 this season.

"Jack is a three-year starter on varsity for us and really took a big jump this season for our team," said Warriors head coach Jake Brustuen. "He consistently scored the basketball this season and also was asked to rebound and distribute the ball as well. Jack increased his averages in every category this season while also increasing his shooting percentages in every category as well.

"Jack can be a matchup problem most nights as he can play inside and out and has the length to shoot over small defenders."

Jr. 6-6 forward, Dawson-Boyd

Drew Hjelmeland's length and perimeter shooting ability added another dynamic for a high-caliber Dawson-Boyd squad.

Hjelmeland nearly averaged a double-double with 17.2 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. He shot 40% from 3-point range and 67% from the free-throw line. Hjelmeland also tallied 4.0 assists, 2.4 blocks and 1.6 steals per game.

"Drew expanded his game from a spot up shooter to a scorer this season," said Dawson-Boyd head coach Cory Larson. "Effective in the low post and off the dribble. Much improved defensive player."

Jr. 6-5 forward/center, Montevideo

With Gannon Reidinger leading the charge, Montevideo was able to lock up the top seed in the Section 3AA-North tournament with a 21-7 record.

An All-West Central Conference pick, Reidinger had averages of 14.6 points, 9.0 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.6 blocks and 1.0 steals per game.

"Gannon Reidinger was our do-it-all player on a 20-win team this season," said Thunder Hawks head coach Derek Webb. "He can score at all three levels efficiently, commands the glass and protects the rim. Not only can he score, he was also second in our team in assists with 124. If teams doubled him or helped off their guy, Gannon would find the open player.

"Not only was a great player on the court for us all year, he was also voted as a captain by his peers this season. As a junior, that is a great honor and it tells you what kind of leader and person Gannon really is. Our team and program is much better because of Gannon Reidinger."

Sr. 6-4 forward/center, Paynesville

Bryce VanderBeek was a driving force for a Paynesville squad that won a share of the Central Minnesota Conference.

A first team All-CMC pick, VanderBeek finished with 16.2 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.4 steals and 1 block per game for the 22-6 Bulldogs. VanderBeek is slated to play baseball at Division III St. John's University.

"Bryce impacted the game in a variety of ways," said Paynesville head coach Rick Hendrickson. "He would score inside, mid-range, and from the 3-point line. He shot 52% from the floor while also making 28 threes at a 35% clip.

"Bryce would be a focal part of every team's defense and they defended him in different ways. Bryce would be crucial in breaking the press and attacking any zone defenses. He had the ball in his hands frequently and was able to make plays happen."

Sr. 5-11 guard, KMS

A four-year varsity player for KMS, Jared Cortez averaged 18.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.1 steals per game on the way to being an All-Camden Conference pick for the second time. Surpassing 1,000 career points this season, Cortez was also named Academic All-Conference. Cortez will play baseball collegiately at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall.

"Jared is the definition of a scorer; Most of his scoring comes from the outside," said Fighting Saints head coach Matt Fragodt. "He is a very smart basketball player and is not afraid of the big-time moment. He has been a leader on and off the court for us his whole career.

"Jared has had to deal with many obstacles in his career including an ACL tear last year. He did not let anything get him down and he was able to reach 1,000 points in our last game of the regular season. He is one of the hardest workers I have ever coached."

So. 6-0 guard, Dawson-Boyd

Gunnar Liebl's massive leap helped solidify Dawson-Boyd's claim as a top Class A team.

The All-Camden Conference guard averaged 18.1 points on 56% shooting, including 39% from 3-point range and 66% from the free-throw line. He also averaged 6.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.7 steals per game.

"Gunner took on a much different role with this year's team," said Blackjacks head coach Cory Larson. "He increased his scoring average from 3 ppg as a freshman to 18 ppg this season."

Sr. 6-0 guard, ACGC

Kyler Pickle was a record ball distributor in Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City's backcourt.

The Falcons senior scored 17.0 points per game on 45% shooting and cracked 1,000 career points this season. His 7.7 assists per game led the Central Minnesota Conference. He set a single-game school record with 17 assists, eclipsing Dylan Hoerchler's previous mark of 16. Pickle also averaged 5.1 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game on the way to All-CMC honors.

ACGC went 14-13, marking the Falcons' first winning season since 2016-17.

"Kyler is one of those players that can impact a game in so many ways," said ACGC head coach Terry Miller. "Kyler can break down the defenses and get to the rim on a regular basis, as well as shoot from the outside. Kyler is a very unselfish player as well. Kyler sacrificed his own scoring to make his teammates and team better.

"Kyler could dictate the flow of the game on both ends of the court. Besides being our primary ball handler on offense, Kyler was also very good on the defensive end as well."

Jr. 6-2 guard, RCW

Ryan Schrupp was one of the area's top outside shooters while securing All-Camden Conference honors for the second time.

Schrupp finished with 23.3 points per game, shooting 37% from the field and hitting 87 3-pointers. He also had 6.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.3 steals per game. The Jaguars compiled a 7-19 record.

"Ryan is a 'do it all' player," said RCW head coach Matt Huhnerkoch. "Ryan is an extremely talented offensive player, but what makes Ryan great is that he is an outstanding defensive player. He is always guarding the other team's best player all while being the focal point of the other team's best defensive player.

"Ryan was also able to get any kind of shot he wanted even when the other team knew he was going to shoot. Ryan also has a great ability to put his teammates in situations where they too can succeed."

Jr. 6-4 guard, BBE

Hayden Sobiech helped lift Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa to its third straight season with 20-plus wins.

Sobiech was second on the Jaguars with 14.4 points per game on 46% shooting. He also had 5.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.4 steals per game en route to first team All-Central Minnesota Conference honors.

"He improved in so many ways from last season," said BBE head coach Chris Anderson. "Offensively, Hayden was a difficult match up for teams. He has the ability to put the ball on the floor and score off the bounce, hit the open three, and he developed a post-up game on the block.

"Hayden took on the challenge of defending our opponents best perimeter player and he did a nice job doing so. He made many big baskets for us this season and played a huge role on both ends of the floor."