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Jacoby, Frey named Times' Co-POY

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CO-POY: Rossville's Dawson Jacoby, left putting up a shot against Carroll, and Chase Frey, driving during game with Clinton Central, shared the Times' County Player of the Year award after voting by county coaches and the Times staff.
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McGRAW: Clinton Prairie's Grant McGraw, 20, led the Gophers scoring 12.8 ppg this year. Above, he's pictured being greeted by teammate Jacob Fullerton during player introductions.
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SHAW: Rossville's Dirk Shaw averaged 13.3 ppg and 5.8 rpg this season as the third Hornet named to this year's all-county first team.
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SHAW: Rossville's Dirk Shaw averaged 13.3 ppg and 5.8 rpg this season as the third Hornet named to this year's all-county first team.
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GOOD: Clinton Prairie's Bailey Good led the county in assists (4.7 per game) this year, as well as rebounds (7.4) as a point guard.

BY ANDREW KRULL - akrull@ftimes.com

Who do you credit the most after Rossville recorded its most wins in a boys basketball season since their state championship season in 2002?

It could be the outside shooting of Dawson Jacoby, the inside presence of versatile players such as Chase Frey, Dirk Shaw and Kirby Meeks or the completeness of their senior-dominated starting five.

There were several options to point to and the vote for the Times' County Player of the Year displayed that it may be all of the above, with Rossville seniors Jacoby and Frey sharing player of the year honors and junior Shaw narrowly missing making it a three-way tie.

“I don't know if I've ever had a more balanced team in 17 years of coaching,” Rossville head coach Cory Dunn said. “It's hard to say that one guy was our most valuable player.”

The inside play of Frey, Shaw and Meeks made it difficult for opposing teams to concentrate to heavily on sharp-shooter Jacoby, and vice versa as “you've got teams that are playing box-and-one against Dawson and it opens things up on the inside,” Dunn noted.

The vote by the county's four head coaches and Times' staff displayed the difficulty in pinpointing one player to focus on for the Hornets' success (18-5 and Hoosier Heartland Conference champions with a 7-0 record) this year. Jacoby, Frey and Shaw each received at least one first-place vote, with coaches voting only on players not on their teams.

A similar split was found with voters on the other two players named to the all-county first team in Clinton Prairie juniors Bailey Good and Grant McGraw, with a few giving the nod to Good's do-everything role for the Gophers and others going with the shooting and scoring of teammate McGraw.

Each county coach was asked to nominate players they felt were deserving of all-county recognition, with the coaches then choosing their top-10 players among those players who were not on their squads.

After the first team of Jacoby, Frey, Shaw, Good and McGraw, county players chosen for the second team included Frankfort senior Casey Henry, Clinton Central junior Ross Cripe, Rossville senior Meeks, Frankfort senior Jayce Moore and Clinton Central senior Nate Martin.

Each player selected is featured below with comments from their coaches and an overview of their accomplishments this season.

Co-Players of the Year

Dawson Jacoby

Rossville

Jacoby led the county in scoring at 14.4 ppg this season, adding 3.3 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game. He shot 47 percent from the field, including a gaudy 49 percent from 3-point range with a school-record 85 3-pointers on the season.

“You pretty much knew what you were going to get from Dawson,” Dunn said, noting “he was just such a great leader for us.

“That kid broke a school record that's been standing for 30 years and never was that a concern of his. He was always about the team.”

Jacoby was also all-Hoosier Heartland Conference this year and elected to the Kitchen Classic Holiday Tournament team, which was won by the Hornets. Dunn noted that Jacoby's shooting was even more astounding until tailing off slightly near the end of the season. 

“Through the first 18 games of the season, he was shooting 55 percent for the season, which is unheard of,” he said. “No, I haven't had a kid shoot it like him.”

Chase Frey

Rossville

Frey added an explosive element to the Hornet attack, with Dunn noting that the Hornets played their best basketball when he was clicking on all cylinders.

“With Chase, he was the most athletic player we had and he could do things on the court that you couldn't really teach,” his coach said. “He's a great rebounder and could score in multiple different ways. When he was playing well, I thought we could beat anybody.”

Frey averaged 13 ppg on the season, adding 5.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2 steals and .6 blocks per game. He led the team in assists and steals and also shot 54 percent from the field and 74 percent from the free-throw line.

Frey was also all-Hoosier Heartland Conference this year and elected to the Kitchen Classic Holiday Tournament team.

Rest of first team

Dirk Shaw

Rossville

Along with Frey, Shaw gave the Hornets another front-line player who was a willing and able passer. His stats were nearly identical to his teammate Frey, as he averaged 13.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 3 apg, 1.6 spg and .3 bpg. He also shot 50 percent from the field and 73 percent from the line.

“The great thing about Dirk is that he's only a junior,” Dunn said. “I think his best is still on the way.

“He was our leading rebounder and could do a lot of things for us. Not only is he a scorer, but he's one of our best passers and obviously a strong rebounder.”

Shaw was also all-Hoosier Heartland Conference this year and elected to the Kitchen Classic Holiday Tournament team.

Bailey Good

Clinton Prairie

Good did a little bit of everything for the Gophers in his junior season, leading the county in assists (4.7 per game) and rebounding (7.4) even as a 5'10” point guard. He also averaged 8.7 ppg, as well as .3 blocks and a team-leading 1.8 steals per game.

“Bailey ran our team,” Prairie head coach Jeff Henley said. “He's kind of the coach on the floor. He has a very high basketball IQ, everything ran through him. He's also a very good rebounder, especially for his size.

“He did an awful lot. He just played both ends of the floor, played defense, handled the ball, rebounded. He just did everything for us on the court. He's just a really good basketball player.”

Good was an all-Hoosier Heartland Conference performer this season.

Grant McGraw

Clinton Prairie

McGraw, playing his first significant varsity minutes after the Gophers sustained heavy graduation turnover after a very successful 2017-2018 campaign, led Prairie in scoring at 12.8 ppg. He and fellow junior Good helped the Gophers maintain a winning tradition at Prairie, finishing 14-10 on the season and advancing to the sectional semifinal before losing to eventual champion Covington.

“Grant is an excellent 3-point shooter and he continued to get better as the season went along,” Henley said. “Teams were guarding him so tight and he adjusted (during the year) by getting around them and taking it to the basket.”

He added that “Grant's ability to shoot the 3 really opened things up a lot for the other players,” while also praising his defense and rebounding.

Henley, who is retiring, believes McGraw and Good will provide his successor with a strong foundation next year.

“Grant didn't play any varsity last year,” he said. “They're both juniors and it's nice to have them coming back.”

Along with his scoring, McGraw also contributed 3.3 rpg, 1.1 apg and .9 spg. He made 63 3-pointers on the season, shooting 42 percent from deep. He also hit on 80 percent of his free throws.

Second team

Frankfort

Henry, a senior, led the Hot Dogs in scoring at 9.5 ppg, adding 2.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists and .6 steals a game. He also hit 36 3-pointers on 39-percent shooting from deep and shot 76 percent on free throws.

Henry missed some games due to an emergency appendectomy in the middle of the season, but came back even stronger afterward.

“He came back a far superior player than when he left injured,” Frankfort head coach Nate VanDuyne said. “He finished the year with solid shot selection, shot making and defensive effort. He was extremely efficient from the 3-point line for us.”

Henry was a second-team all-Sagamore Conference selection. 

Ross Cripe

Clinton Central

Cripe, a junior captain, averaged 8.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2 apg and 1.2 spg while shooting 80 percent on free throws for the Bulldogs this season.

“Ross was our leader,” Central head coach Whit Keadle said. “He just did a little bit of everything for us.”

He noted he was in the top three on the team in points, assists and rebounds.

“That's just an all-around basketball player and especially at his height (5'7”) to be our second-leading rebounder,” Keadle said.

Cripe was an all-Hoosier Heartland Conference selection for the season.

Kirby Meeks

Rossville

Meeks transferred back to Rossville for his senior season, giving the Hornets another inside presence for their successful season.

“It's not easy for a guy to come in with four guys coming back and fit in,” Dunn said. “I think that speaks well for the type of athlete and person he is. They played well together and that's why we had such a great regular season.”

Like Frey and Shaw, Meeks was another able passer as a big for the Hornets, averaging 2 assists a game. He also averaged 8.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg and 1.6 spg, while leading Rossville with .7 blocks a game and 57-percent shooting from the field. Dunn noted his numbers would likely have been even more impressive outside of dealing with occasional foul trouble.

Jayce Moore

Frankfort

Moore, a senior, was the second-leading scorer for Frankfort at 7.9 ppg on efficient 54-percent shooting. He also led the undersized Hot Dogs in rebounding with 3.6 boards per game, adding 1.7 assists and .5 steals.

“Jayce is a versatile big, who can handle the ball, lead the break and knock down the occasional jump shot,” VanDuyne said. “He did a nice job of being aggressive on the offensive end all year long and proved to be very sound offensively when he utilized his jump hook as his primary post move.”

Moore was a second-team all-Sagamore Conference selection. 

Nate Martin

Clinton Central

Martin, a senior captain, led the Bulldogs in scoring at 10.8 ppg, assists at 2.4 a game and steals with two a game.

“Nate put a lot of time in this off-season,” Keadle said. “He led us in points and assists. He was our primary ballhandler and we needed that from him.”

His coach also highlighted his tenacity.

“He played his guts out every night,” Keadle said. “I had no complaints about how hard he played every time out.”

Honorable mention

Bryce Oliver, Rossville; Spencer Smith, Clinton Central; Austin Gibson, Clinton Prairie; Brandon Mosson, Clinton Prairie; Mason McGraw, Clinton Prairie; Trey Frazier, Frankfort.