Helping Boulder City High School’s basketball programs claim 3A Sunrise League championships, junior Ellie Howard was named league player of the year for the girls, and senior Derrick Thomas was named league player of the year for the boys.
Leading their respective programs, girls head coach Kirk Estes and boys head coach John Balistere were recognized as coaches of the year for the Sunrise League.
“I think it’s great honor for our individual programs,” Balistere said. “I know my staff and Kirk’s does a great job of preparing our teams, but I’m a firm believer that once the ball is in the air it’s up to the players to make plays. We have great players that buy into what we’re feeding and execute. It’s a credit to both our coaches’ staffs and players.”
Howard was one of all five Lady Eagles starters to earn postseason accolades after helping the girls team reach the 3A state tournament for the first time since 2014,
“Ellie was the only dominant forward in our league,” Estes said. “She created nightmare matchups for virtually everybody we played, and the girls who played on the court with her did a fantastic job of getting her the basketball in great spots. When we fed her, she delivered.”
Dominant inside the paint and on the boards for the Lady Eagles, Howard averaged 17.5 points and 12.5 rebounds per game, while adding 1.5 blocked shots on the defensive end.
Crediting her teammates for her success, Howard said she was pleased that each member of the Lady Eagles’ starting five received all-league nominations, ultimately helping her win player of the year.
“I feel really honored to be chosen as player of the year,” Howard said. “This accolade is really a team award. My teammates helped me get better and kept encouraging me to be my best self. Keely (Alexander), Madison (Manns) and Hannah (Estes) always looked to feed me the ball. I had foot surgery in August, and I didn’t think I’d be ready to play by November, but I was able to. I’ve been really blessed to get to where I am.”
Howard was named to the first team for the state as well as for the All-Southern Region.
Alexander was named to the All-Southern Region second team after an all-around season in which she averaged 9.8 points, five rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3.1 steals per game.
Alexander also made the first All-Sunrise team. Manns (7 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists and three steals) and senior forward Setia Cox (9.9 points and seven rebounds) were named to the All-Sunrise second team.
Senior forward Estes was an honorable mention selection after averaging 5.9 points, 4.9 assists and three rebounds per game.
Leading the boys program to its first league championship since 2012, Thomas was instrumental in the Eagles’ rise to prominence this season, using last year’s award snubs as motivation to be the league’s best player this season.
“It’s a tremendous honor to win player of the year for the league,” Thomas said. “Looking back on last year when I was named second team all-league, it gave me a certain wave of motivation to be better for the team as well as to accomplish some personal goals.”
Leaving no doubt this season, Thomas made the first team All-State, as well as first team for the All-Southern Region.
He was joined by senior Karson Bailey on the All-Southern Region first team. Bailey also was named to the second team for All-State and first team for All-Sunrise.
Sophomore Ethan Speaker was named to the second team for the All-Southern Region as well as the first team for the All-Sunrise League.
Thomas led the way with 18.2 points per game, with 6.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists and two steals. Bailey averaged 13.5 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.6 steals per game. Speaker averaged 13.1 points, 9.2 rebounds, two assists and one steal per game.
A second-team All-Sunrise League selection, sophomore forward Matt Morton averaged 9.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Junior guard Gavin Balistere was named an honorable mention selection after averaging 3.8 points, three rebounds and one steal per game.
Contact Robert Vendettoli at BCRsports@gmail.com.