Gabe Bergeron Dundee-Crown
This senior's hard work helped guarantee Dundee-Crown its first winning season in five years. Entering regional play, the 6-foot-8, 200-pound center led the Chargers in scoring (11.9 ppg) and rebounding (6.7), was shooting a team-best 50 percent from the field (128 of 256) and 30 percent on 3-point attempts (12 of 40). Bergeron also had 33 blocks, 33 assists and 14 steals. "Gabe has improved each year as a basketball player at Dundee-Crown and this year he has taken it to a new level," D-C coach Lance Huber said. "He has played his best games against some of the better big men in the area. He causes problems with his length and size and offensively with his ability to shoot the perimeter shot. He is still growing as a player and I believe his best basketball is ahead of him."
Nik Balkcom Jacobs
This third-year varsity guard is a key reason Jacobs was limiting opponents to 42.7 ppg heading into postseason play. The 6-foot-3 senior has 43 steals and 19 blocked shots entering Friday's regional title game. "He's the best defensive player in the area for sure," Jacobs coach Jimmy Roberts said. "He's unbelievable on the ball and unbelievable off the ball. When he's on the ball, people get rid of it or they get stripped. He might be our most irreplaceable player." Balkcom is just as dependable on offense. He led the Golden Eagles to their fourth straight Fox Valley Conference championship with a team-best 99 assists while committing only 56 turnovers. He averages 9.8 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game.
Keenon Cole Streamwood
This athletic junior developed into a force in his second varsity season. The 6-foot-7 forward led the Sabres to 11 victories, the program's highest win total since 2012-13, by pacing the team in scoring (14.9 ppg) and rebounding (7.8). He made 48.5 percent of his field-goal attempts, including 23 of 68 from 3-point range (33.8 percent). Defensively, he contributed 1.2 steals per game and averaged 2 blocked shots. The intimidating rim protector altered many more. "Keenon Cole makes a major difference for us on both ends of the floor," Streamwood coach Paul Kowalyszyn said. "He has had multiple 30-plus-point games this year, and he is a major presence on the defensive end around the rim as he blocks shots on a consistent basis."
Jared Crutcher West Aurora
Nicknamed "The Condor" due to a wingspan that stretches 7 feet, 2 inches, this senior is listed at 6-5 but plays even bigger. Few can protect the rim as staunchly as Crutcher, the honorary captain of the 2017-18 Daily Herald All-Area Team. He entered the postseason with 82 blocked shots. The Loras College recruit averages 13.2 points and a team-best 8.8 rebounds per game, of which 4.1 are offensive rebounds. The resulting putbacks translate to 56-percent shooting (138 of 245), which is partly why he was named Upstate Eight Valley co-player of the year. "He shows up every day ready to go with the same attitude: to work hard and be coachable." West Aurora coach Brian Johnson said. "He's a leader in how hard he works, how selfless he is and how he carries himself."
Kyle Czerak Aurora Central Catholic
Every team knows which Aurora Central Catholic player to guard, but it doesn't mean defenses can solve this natural scorer. Entering postseason play, the 5-foot-11 guard led the Chargers in scoring (22.0 ppg) and rebounding (5.0) while contributing 2 assists and 2.3 steals per game. He shoots 50.8 percent from the field (90 of 177) and 41.2 percent from 3-point range (75 of 182). Czerak topped 30 points four times during the regular season, including a season-high 37-point performance against rival Marmion. "He was the focal point of everyone's defense who we face, including quite a few box and ones, and still put up tremendous numbers," Aurora Central Catholic coach Nate Drye said. "He improved his game a ton and really added the ability to take people off the bounce this year. We had 10 wins and without Kyle I am not sure we would have had any."
Camron Donatlan West Aurora
This three-time all-area basketball selection is one of the best athletes in the state. Committed to Wyoming for football, the reigning high jump state champion is the area slam dunk king, which is partly why the 6-foot-3 guard enters the playoffs shooting 57 percent from the field (149 of 260). He leads the Blackhawks in scoring (19 ppg) and steals (62), averages 4.2 assists and shoots 71 percent from the free-throw line (89 of 125). "Cam really gives us energy," West Aurora coach Brian Johnson said. "He's such a great athlete. He's a big reason we've been at the top of our conference the last two years."
Blake Feiza Kaneland
Kaneland's tallest player was a pillar of strength. The 6-foot-4 senior forward led the Knights to an 11-win season. Heading into postseason play he paced Kaneland in scoring (12.6 ppg) and rebounds (4.4), had 28 steals and 28 deflections. Feiza was shooting 51.6 percent from the floor (115 of 223) and 71.1 percent from the free-throw line (106 of 149). In Tuesday's season-ending loss to Burlington Central in a regional semifinal, he returned from foul trouble to score 9 straight points and drew the Knights within 2 points, though they eventually came up short. "He was on the all-tournament teams for Batavia and Plano," Kaneland coach Joe Conroy said. "He has been our most consistent player for two years."
A.J. Franklin St. Edward
This all-state soccer player picked up where he left off last fall, when he led the Green Wave soccer team to a third-place finish in Class 1A and was named honorary captain of the Daily Herald All-Area Team. The all-around athlete switched gears seamlessly and became the top scorer for a 20-win basketball team. The 6-foot-3, 170-pound senior entered the playoffs averaging 21.3 ppg, nearly double his average as a junior, along with 3.6 rebounds and 2 steals per game. He scored over 30 points four times and completed his two years on varsity with over 900 points. "He was the leader on the floor for us offensively and defensively," St. Edward coach P.J. White said. "The second time through our conference every team played a box and one against us and tried to shut A.J. down. He was our keystone player. As A.J. went, we went, too. And he's just a good kid, always smiling."
Justin Hardy St. Charles East
This three-time all-area selection does it all for the Saints. The athletic 6-foot-5 forward is equally comfortable finishing a fast break with a one-handed dunk or nailing a game-winning 3-pointer, like the buzzer-beater that shocked rival St. Charles North on Jan. 12. Hardy entered the postseason averaging team highs in scoring (20.3), rebounding (7.8), assists (4.3) and steals (1.2). The three-time St. Charles East team captain shoots 52 percent from the field (209 of 397) and has connected on 24 of 90 attempts from 3-point range. "He's a player who does just about everything for us," Saints coach Patrick Woods said. "He rebounds, scores, assists, defends. He's a great floor leader and he leads by example because he's a hard worker. Great communicator and awesome in the classroom. He's done a lot for the program and it's been an honor and a blessing to coach him."
Jayden Johnson Batavia
This sophomore is Batavia's leading scorer entering postseason play. The 6-foot-5, 195-pound guard averages 13.1 ppg. He shoots 53.2-percent from the field (119 of 264) and is Batavia's most accurate 3-pointer shooter at 40.6 percent (69 of 170). That total includes the 3-pointer he drained from NBA range at the buzzer to beat St. Charles East on Jan. 5. "Jayden really improved from his freshman year to this year," Batavia coach Jim Nazos said. "He became more than just a spot-up shooter. Jayden loves the game of basketball and had a great year, and we are looking forward to see him grow even more over the next two seasons."
Kyle King St. Charles North
This repeat all-area selection got his teammates involved more in his fourth varsity season. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound senior improved his assists-per-game total from 2.5 as a junior to 3.9 this year. "Kyle has a very high basketball IQ and has developed into an inside-outside threat," St. Charles North coach Tom Poulin said. "One of the best passers we have ever had in the program. We play through him whether it's in the post or on the perimeter." King entered the playoffs averaging a team-best 8.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.3 steals per game.
Anthony Lynch Larkin
A repeat all-area selection, this senior was named the Upstate Eight River player of the year after leading the Royals to their first league title since 2013-14. The 6-foot-3, 180-pound guard entered the postseason averaging 20 points, 5 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.8 steals per game. The four-year varsity player was named first-team at the J-Hawk MLK Showcase at Rockford Jefferson. Lynch was the event's leading scorer at 22.8 ppg and led Larkin to a 3-1 record. He has guarded the opposition's best player throughout the season's second half, ranging from 5-foot-11 point guards to 6-foot-5 shooters. "He has taken on big-time defensive assignments while we ask him to score 20 points and play 30 minutes," Larkin coach Deryn Carter said. "He's at the gym shooting at 6 a.m. and he's there again after practice at 7 p.m. He's just a gym-rat type and he's playing at a high level."
Kameron Mack Jacobs
This 6-foot-6, 180-pound guard has flourished in a starting role for the four-time Fox Valley Conference champs. A reserve last year on a sectional titlist, he joined the starting lineup as a senior and entered the postseason as the team's second-leading scorer at 12.1 points per game. He shoots 44.8 percent from the field (125 of 279) and 31.4-percent from 3-point range (44 of 140). Mack also contributes 4.4 rebounds per outing to go with 51 assists, 35 steals and 15 blocks. "I love him and he's done some really good things," Jacobs coach Jimmy Roberts said. "He's really developed. He's very talented and has a lot of college upside."
Mitch Mascari Geneva
Opponents leave this 6-foot-4, 180-pound guard open on the perimeter at their own peril. Entering the postseason the junior was shooting a team-best 44.3 percent from beyond the arc (74 of 167). He also makes 82.5 percent of his free throws (52 of 63). "He's one of the all-time best shooters to play at Geneva High School," Vikings coach Scott Hennig said. "Mitch practices the shots he is going to get in the game. Everything is always at game speed." The second-year varsity player averages 13.6 points, a team-best 4.6 rebounds and 1.3 assists. Defensively, Mascari has 41 steals and 18 blocked shots.
Patrick Mayfield Burlington Central
This 6-foot-4 junior developed into a force in his second varsity season. The forward entered the playoffs averaging 16.9 points per game for the undefeated Kishwaukee River Conference champions, boosted by a career-high 34-point outing against Batavia two weeks ago. He is Central's leading 3-point shooter at 41.6 percent (30 of 72) and makes a team-best 75.8 percent from the free-throw line (69 of 91). Mayfield averages 4.3 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 1.7 assists per game. "He can score off the dribble, in the post and his midrange game is one of the best I've seen in the area," Central coach Brett Porto said. "He's put a lot of time and effort in to improve his game over the years and is just a real phenomenal scorer. He's an extremely tough matchup because he as the size and ability to get to the rim or post up."
Jack McDonald Geneva
Few players possess the court vision of this 5-foot-11, 155-pound junior point guard. The repeat all-area selection became Geneva's all-time assists leader at midseason. He entered the playoffs averaging an area-best 6.8 assists per game. He is also Geneva's leading scorer (14.9 ppg) and averages 2.7 rebounds and a steal per game. McDonald usually has the ball in his hands when the score is close because he handles so well and shoots 84.7 percent from the free-throw line (111 of 131). He also sinks 40.2 percent from 3-point range (43 of 107).
Vince Miszkiewicz South Elgin
This 6-foot-6, 190-pound junior dunks whenever he gains post position, which is often. That's partly why he shoots 67.3 percent from the field (171 of 254). Fouling Miszkiewicz does little good. He was shooting 80.1 percent from the line (121 of 151) entering regional play. He averages 12.3 rebounds, 3.7 blocks and 1.9 steals per game, thanks to a nonstop motor. "I have never seen him take a play off in practice or a game," South Elgin coach Brett Johnson said. "He brings extreme energy to everything he does on the court. He makes the players around him better not only by helping them, but leading by example."
Jack Nohava Harvest Christian
Harvest Christian Academy won 18 games under first-year coach Bryan Bradshaw, thanks in large part to the contributions of this 6-foot-6 forward. The junior averaged 16.4 points and 9.1 rebounds for the Lions, who finished 9-2 in the Northeastern Athletic Conference. "He is by far our best player and has been very difficult for other teams to defend," Bradshaw said. "Jack has worked extremely hard on his game and it's paid off for him. He has grown into a nice leader as the season progressed. Looking forward to having him back next year."
Eric Peterson Batavia
Also named to the all-area football team last fall after he helped Batavia win the Class 7A state title, this 6-foot-3 senior guard does a bit of everything for the Bulldogs. Peterson was averaging 11.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.7 deflections entering postseason play. "Eric is someone who led for us by example, how he played, worked and acted on and off the court," Batavia coach Jim Nazos said. "He did a lot of great things on the floor for us, one of them being our best defensive player who could guard any player the other team had. Eric left a great mark on the program and deserves all the awards he gets."
Ryan Phillips Jacobs
This repeat all-area pick missed the final three weeks of the regular season with a broken bone in his right ring finger. By that point he had already played a large role in bringing the Golden Eagles to the precipice of their fourth straight Fox Valley Conference title. The 6-foot-5 senior, who committed to Loras College this week, enters Friday's regional title game averaging a team-best 14.9 points on 48.5-percent shooting (114 of 235), 38.3-percent from 3-point range (44 of 115). Phillips is Jacobs' best rebounder at 6.5 per game and averages 2.4 assists and 1.9 steals. "He's been so important to this program over the last three years," Jacobs coach Jimmy Roberts said. "When he was a sophomore he made some big plays for us in that regional championship game against DeKalb and he's been making them ever since."
Zach Robinson St. Charles East
Hours of shooting practice paid off for this 6-foot-2, 190-pound guard. The senior entered the postseason shooting 40 percent from 3-point range (72 of 178) and 45 percent from the field (136 of 296). He averages 14.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists and a steal per game. In a career-high 30-point performance against Streamwood on Jan. 26, Robinson sank 8 of 10 attempts from 3-point range and 10 of 13 shots overall. "He's much improved from last year and I think that's a result of the time and effort he put in during the off-season," St. Charles East coach Patrick Woods said. "I think he worked really hard on his shot and in the weight room and that carried over to the court."
Zach Schutta Burlington Central
The most prolific scorer in Burlington Central history will be remembered as one of the program's all-around greats. The 6-foot-1 senior led the Rockets to their second straight Kishwaukee River Conference title and entered postseason play averaging 19.1 points per game on 45-percent shooting from the field (190 of 421) and 33 percent shooting from 3-point range (57 of 171). He also averages 5.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.6 steals. The four-year varsity performer was named MVP of the Plano Christmas Tournament and broke the school's all-time scoring mark of 1,522 points in a win at Johnsburg on Feb. 16. Schutta enters Friday's regional championship game as Central's leading scorer with 1,587 career points. "He's our all-time leading scorer but he does so many things well offensively, defensively, with help positioning and understanding scouting reports," Central coach Brett Porto said. "He does everything you want in a fourth-year player. He really gets it on both ends of the floor. That's a credit to all the studying he puts in."
Jalen Shaw Larkin
Larkin's 6-foot-10, senior rim protector blocks 3 shots per game and likely alters twice as many. Offensively, the third-year varsity player averages 16 points and 2 assists to go with 11 rebounds for the Upstate Eight River champs. He was made the all-tournament team at the Rockford Thanksgiving Tip-Off and was named all-UEC River. "He has played at a high level," Larkin coach Deryn Carter said. "He dominates the paint on both ends of the floor and commands a double team on offense. He still has to be more consistent, but when he plays at a high level and with energy we are a very good team. He did that for most of the year, which is why we won the league."
Mick Sullivan Marmion
Marmion's 6-foot-9, 235-pound center relied on a combination of natural size and good positioning to haul in 11 rebounds per game, but it was his hard work last summer that led to a team-best 15.7 ppg. The junior entered postseason play shooting 56.1 percent from the field (165 of 294). He had 54 blocked shots and 24 steals. "Mick has shown great strides in his game this year," Marmion coach Tony Young said. "He spent time this summer working on his low-post moves and mobility and it paid off this season. Mick is a leader and kind of the center of our team, no pun intended. He has had a target on him all season and he stood up the pressure. I am proud of Mick."
Dan Toolsie Elgin
Elgin's leading scorer found ways to cut through defenses. Entering the playoffs, the 5-foot-11, 150-pound wing paced the Maroons with 17.1 ppg on 43.2 percent shooting (156 of 361) from the field, 30.1 percent from 3-point range (41 of 136) and 74.1 percent from the free-throw line (60 of 81). He averaged 4.8 rebounds an assist and 2.6 steals per game. Toolsie got better as the season unfolded. "He has played his best basketball the last six weeks," Elgin coach Mike Sitter said, "really becoming the offensive force we've been waiting for all season." Toolsie was named to the UEC River all-conference team.
Ben Versluys Westminster Christian
This repeat all-area selection will be remembered as one of the best players in Westminster Christian's history. The three-time all-Northeastern Athletic Conference pick averaged 19 ppg as a senior and finishes fourth on the program's all-time scoring list with 1,227 points. The 6-foot-6 forward's 38-point performances against South Beloit broke the school's single-game scoring record. He averaged 2.5 blocks, 2.9 steals and 2.5 assists per game. Versluys ends his Westminster career second all-time in blocks (148), fourth in rebounds (623) and fifth in steals (156) "Ben did it all for three years and it was an honor to coach him," Warriors coach Andy Zielinski said. "His number speak for themselves as a game-in, game-out competitor who got better every year. Ben will be remembered as one of the top players all time to play for the Warriors."
Tomas Vikonis Bartlett
This 6-foot-2 guard picked up his game when Bartlett needed it most. The uncommitted senior entered the playoffs averaging 13.7 ppg overall, but that average increased to 17 ppg in Upstate Eight Valley games after the team's leading scorer was lost to injury for almost two months. The Hawks went 9-3 in that span. Vikonis contributes 3.7 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.1 steals per outing. "Tomas has really grown as a player this year," Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith said. "He has taken on a scoring load that he has always been capable of but has developed the consistency this year. He is a very exciting athlete to watch play and will do well as he moves on to college basketball."
Jake Wolfe Aurora Christian
A returning all-state and repeat all-area pick who will play Division-I college basketball at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn., Wolfe is the driving force behind the team ranked No. 1 in Class 1A throughout the season's second half. Entering postseason play, the 6-foot-4, 200 pound senior had connected on 52.2 percent of his field-goal attempts (184 of 354), 35.7 percent of his 3-point attempts (51 of 143) and 66.4 percent of his free throws (95 of 143). He averages 6.4 rebounds and dishes 5.4 assists per game compared to 2.7 turnovers. Defensively, he has 68 steals, 45 deflections, 11 blocks and has drawn seven charging calls. He will finish his career with over 1,700 points. "The one thing that has separated Jake from many players of his skill level is his drive," Aurora Christian coach Dan Beebe said. "He has worked to become a great all-around player."
Will Wolfe Aurora Christian
This 6-foot-6, 195-pound sophomore elevated his game in his second varsity season. The ballhandling guard helped the Northeastern Athletic Conference champions win a regional title by averaging 5.5 rebounds and 4 assists with only 2.1 turnovers. On the defensive side of the ball, he has drawn a team-best nine player-control fouls, made 60 steals and 64 deflections and blocked 21 shots. Aurora Christian leading shooter makes 43.8 percent from 3-point range (49 of 112) and 76.6 percent from the free-throw line (49 of 64). "When you watch Will play, sometimes you forget he's only a sophomore," Aurora Christian coach Dan Beebe said. "He has the ability to do so many things on the floor and is only going to get better. The improvement he has demonstrated from his freshman year to sophomore year has been impressive."
Aurora Christian -- Taaj Davis, so., G
Bartlett -- Austin Gates, jr., G
Batavia -- Kyle LeFevre, sr., G
Burlington Central -- Dejsani Beamon, sr., G; Michael Kalusa, sr., F
Cary-Grove -- Sam Carhart, sr., G/F; Ben Ferrell, sr. F
Crystal Lake South -- Kyle Leva, sr., G/F
Dundee-Crown -- Jack Orndahl, sr. G
Harvest Christian -- Logan Jones, sr., G
Huntley -- Cory Knipp, sr., G
Jacobs -- Ajani Rodriguez, sr., G
Kaneland -- Rhett Espe, sr., G
Larkin -- Kindrel Morris, sr., G
St. Charles East -- Nate Ortiz, jr., G/F
St. Charles North -- Cade Callaghan, sr., F
St. Edward -- Will Gaston, sr., G
South Elgin -- Drake Montgomery, jr., G
Streamwood -- Brendon Marton, sr., F
West Aurora -- Damian Virgen, sr., G; Trae Brown, sr. G; Ben Young, sr., F
Westminster Christian -- Jorden Warrener, sr., G