Whatever light switch the Golden Aces turned on late in the basketball season - the one which allowed them to see their way to the IHSA Class 2A Regional championship before taking heavily-favored Nashville to the overtime wire in the Sectional semifinal - has allowed others to see how good the Aces, with four starters returning, could be next year.
“Whetever clicked in February has got to be an all-summer thing,” said Aces coach Tyler Buss at Sunday’s award banquet at the MCHS Cafeteria.
He said opposite coaches have certainly taken note. “I don’t know if you realize how high you’ve set the bar,” Buss said.
Buss only had to point to the All Big 8 Conference team as an example of the Aces notoriety. Despite a 1-5 league mark, which tied Princeton for last, the Aces garnered two spots on the 10-member team. Levi Laws and Reece Metcalf not only landed those honors, but were also named co-Most Valuable Players for the 14-15 season just completed.
Laws, a sophomore, was also named to the Special Mention list of Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Class 2A all-state team, where Metcalf was named Special Mention. Both made the all-southern Illinois team chosen by the “A Baseline View” website, Laws on the second team and Metcalf Honorable Mention.
Buss, with his second season now behind him, said the awards were voted on by players and coaches.
Inside threats Austin Thompson and C.J. Diel were selected as Most Improved, while senior Joey Molstad, one of three seniors on the squad, was tabbed the best defensive player.
The other two seniors, Cole Berry and Davis Vargo, were named co-winners of the Golden Ace award.
With an improvement of five wins over the 2011-12 edition, Buss said “that was a big step in the right direction for our program. It’s getting there.”
Buss, in his remarks, took time to thank MCHS officials, coaches, parents, media and his wife Samantha for their support.
He also thanked instructor Kristi Wright for her help to “improve the game-day atmosphere.”
Freshman coach Jake Drone reviewed their 1-10 season. “We were in every single game at halftime,” Drone said. He told his team to “just stay positive” as they advance at the Hilltop.
David Evans and Pete Smith were chosen co-MVPs of that team.
JV coach Kyle Buss introduced his team to the gathering as well. They finished 9-7, but were undefeated against Illinois opposition.
Sam Deisher was named the MVP of the JV Aces team.