The 6-foot-2 senior guard from Johnson County was chosen Wednesday as the Johnson City Press/Kingsport Times News All-Northeast Tennessee boys’ basketball player of the year on the 31st annual team. He led the Longhorns to the Three Rivers Conference championship and to the Class AA sectional round for the first time since 2003.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Blake Atwood, Johnson County, 6-2 Sr.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Justin Penley, University High
Marae Foreman, Dobyns-Bennett, 5-6, Sr.
Kaleb Meredith, University High, 6-0, So.
Chad Heglar, Daniel Boone, 6-4, Sr.
Charlie Browder, Dobyns-Bennett, 6-7, Jr.
Eric Wilson, Elizabethton, 6-1, Sr.
Christian Webb, Tennessee High, 6-5, Sr.
Ben Diamond, Sullivan South, 5-10, Jr.
Ryan Bledsoe, Cherokee, 6-0, Sr.
Jake Matherne, Science Hill, 6-5, Jr.
Dustin Bartley, Sullivan East, 6-2, Sr.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Riamello Wadsworth, Dobyns-Bennett, 6-1, Sr.
MOST PROMISING UNDERCLASSMAN
Brock Thompson, Unicoi County, 6-1, So.
ATWOOD TO THE FOREFRONT
Atwood, a Class AA Mr. Basketball finalist, scored 35 points in a 90-76 sectional loss at Fulton.
For the season, he averaged 27 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. He also had 2.5 steals per game and hit 85 percent from the free-throw line as the Longhorns strung together a 19-game winning streak
Penley led the Bucs to a sweep of Watauga Valley Conference, District 1-A and Region 1-A championships. He and the Bucs are getting ready to play against McKenzie in Thursday’s quarterfinal round of the TSSAA Class A state championships.
Penley edged Johnson County’s Austin Atwood for the honor. Dobyns-Bennett’s Chris Moore was also in the running for the award.
Foreman, an undersized guard, led a balanced Indians team with 14 points and 4.3 assists per game. More than purely stats, although one of the area’s best at the free-throw line, his play often ignited the rest of the team. He proved to be a nightmare matchup for the rest of the Big Seven Conference teams.
The District 1-AAA tournament MVP had 33 points leading Dobyns-Bennett over Science Hill in the championship game.
Meredith is the leading scorer and rebounder on University High’s first state tournament team in 11 years. He posted averages of 18.7 points and 6.7 rebounds, and also led the team in steals, deflections and blocked shots.
Heglar paced Boone in a number of categories including 18.4 points and seven rebounds per game. He had 51 points in a Hardee’s Classic matchup against South-Doyle and went on to lead the Trailblazers to their first ever championship in the Thanksgiving week tournament.
Browder gave the Indians a dominant inside presence. He finished with averages of 13 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. He was at his best in some of Dobyns-Bennett’s biggest games, leading the Indians to a 26-3 regular season.
Wilson stood out as the most consistent player on an Elizabethton team that won the District 1-AA championship. The 6-foot-1 senior averaged 12 points, eight rebounds and four assists per game, and led the Cyclones at the free-throw line.
Heading up the second team was Webb, the Vikings’ leading scorer at 15.6 points per game. He also grabbed 5.8 rebounds per contest and was the go-to player during the biggest moments.
Diamond was the stand out on a Rebels team which had tremendous balance. He scored 13 points per game and dished out 3.1 assists per game. South’s memorable season included winning the Kelly Services Christmas tournament where Diamond finished with 19 points and six assists in the championship game.
Bledsoe followed up a junior season which he was the Big Seven Conference player of the year with a solid senior season. The Chiefs star averaged 17 points per game and ranked in the area top 10 in 3-point shots made.
Matherne was the top performer on the Hilltoppers with a hook shot that proved hard to stop. He averaged team bests with 11.9 points and 8.5 rebounds per game and led Science Hill to the District 1-AAA championship game.
Dustin Bartley paced the Patriots with 15.1 points per game. He ranked second on his team behind Adam Davison, but third in the overall area in made 3-point shots. Playing mainly at wing, he also grabbed 5.2 rebounds per game and hit nearly 81 percent at the free-throw line.
While Foreman and Browder led Dobyns-Bennett’s offense, Wadsworth was the defensive stopper. He matched up with the other team’s best player. He led a defensive effort that locked down throughout the season, including the Indians taking a 68-51 win over Gate City at the Arby’s Classic.
Thompson is the latest in a line of Unicoi County standouts, leading the Blue Devils with 17 points per game. He averaged over five rebounds and was among the area leaders in 3-point goals. He peaked at the end of the season, including 29 points in Unicoi County’s elimination win over Sullivan East in the District 1-AA tournament.