Lins is Player of the Year

By HARLEY TOMLINSON

Covenant Christian senior Ben Lins finished as the school’s all-time leading scorer and owns the school’s single-game record of 51 points.

2020 Rensselaer Republican

All-Area Boys’ Basketball Teams

FIRST TEAM

Ben Lins, Covenant Christian, 6-5 senior (2020 Rensselaer Republican PLAYER OF THE YEAR) — The area’s top scorer for the second straight season, lefty Lins averaged 22.5 points on the season to finish among the state’s top 15 scorers. A lanky guard with long arms and a deadly jump shot, he scored 20 or more points 16 times and had at least 25 points in a game six times. His 51 points on 22 of 35 shooting against Heritage Christian was one of the state’s best single-game performances and established a school record at Covenant. Lins finished as the school’s all-time leading scorer and led the area in points (541). He had 194 rebounds (8.9 per game), 87 assists and 59 steals.

(See a story on Lins in next week’s Rensselaer Republican.)

Josh Fleming, Rensselaer Central, 6-0 junior — Fleming served as the Bombers’ most consistent scorer, finishing with a team-high average of 18.4 ppg. after scoring at a 24 ppg. clip early in the season. He scored 20 or more points 11 times and had a career-high 32 points on 12 of 18 shooting in a win over Frontier. The area’s best slashing guard who can finish at the rim, Fleming used his quickness to total 58 thefts and had a team-high 91 assists. He finished second in the area in points with 424.

Gavin Herrema, Kankakee Valley, 6-3 senior — A co-Player of the Year selection in 2019, Herrema, a transfer from Covenant Christian, had a solid first season with the Kougars, leading the team in scoring at 16.7 ppg. He knocked down 52 3-pointers and added 117 rebounds (6.2) with a team-high 83 assists and 42 steals.

Nick Mikash, Kankakee Valley, 6-5 sophomore — Mikash capped off a break-out season as a varsity starter with a 14.5 ppg. average. He served as the team’s first option on offense early in the season before settling in with consistent performances for the last 15 or so games. He led the team in rebounds with 197 (8.5 per game) and served as perhaps the team’s most dominant performer. He should catapult into the lead scoring role for coach Bill Shepherd in 2020-21.

Alex Gull, Rensselaer Central, 6-1 senior — A year away from the sport did little to slow Gull, who averaged 14 ppg. in his final season in a Bomber jersey. He played solid on both ends of the floor, recording 48 steals and grabbing 121 rebounds (4.8 per game) while leading the team in 3-point shooting with 31. He scored 20 or more points six times and had a career-best 24 points in a loss to Hebron.

SECOND TEAM

Braden Merriman, North Newton, 6-3 senior — The Spartans’ top scorer, Merriman capped off a fine career with 335 points this winter for a 15.2 ppg. average. He added 4.9 rebounds per game and had 46 assists to keep his team competitive throughout the season.

Jaedan Johnson, Tri-County, 5-10 junior — Blessed with a quick first step, Johnson was a tough match-up at the point guard position. He averaged a team-best 10.3 points in his first season in a prominent role and collected a team-high 50 steals. He was also a strong rebounder despite his size, pulling down 4.1 per game.

Danny Bultema, Covenant Christian, 6-0 senior — Bultema was asked to step up his scoring in his final season and he didn’t disappoint, dropping in 11.4 per game. A strong perimeter shooter, Bultema also had 76 assists.

Eli Carden, Kankakee Valley, 6-1 junior — Carden finished third on the team in scoring at 11.2 ppg., finishing with 247 points on the year. He was second in 3-point shooting with 35 and added 61 assists and 37 steals in his second season as a varsity player.

Cade Walstra, Covenant Christian, 6-2 senior — Walstra had another fine season for the Knights, particularly on the interior. He scored 10.9 points per game and added 6.9 rebounds per contest before a broken wrist ended his season two weeks before sectional. The third option in Covenant’s offense, Walstra gets many of his points through grunt work, clearing the glass and putting in missed shots.

TOP DEFENDER

Zach Gretencord, Tri-County, senior G/F — Gretencord used his 6-2, 190-pound frame to body up on the other team’s best player, guarding point guards, shooting guards and forwards whenever needed. He led the team in assists with 59 and added 48 steals to earn his team’s Defensive Player of the Year honors.

COMING OFF THE BENCH

Justin Cree, Tri-County, senior G … Austin Goddard, North Newton, junior G … Logan Doty, Tri-County, sophomore C … Jacob Hillan, Rensselaer Central, senior F … Noah Bierma, Rensselaer Central, senior G … Matt Caldwell, Kankakee Valley, junior G … Isaac Alblas, Covenant Christian, junior G.

FUTURES TEAM

Tate Drone, Rensselaer Central, sophomore F … Brody Chamness, Rensselaer Central, sophomore F … Cy Sammons, South Newton, sophomore F … Logan Doty, Tri-County, sophomore C … Nick Mikash, Kankakee Valley, sophomore F.