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Daily World announces 2009 All-Area boys basketball team

Posted Monday, April 13, 2009, at 6:43 PM

Daily World announces All-Area boys basketball team

Picking an all-area team is never easy, and in some years it is more difficult than others. With that said, the 2008-09 Daily World All-Area boys basketball team was no different.

Sports writers and fans get caught in numbers, but sometimes numbers alone don't tell the complete story.

Although it is an individual honor, the success of the team has to be considered as well, plus intangibles.

There were a couple of players that deserved consideration, but did not make the final cut for various reasons.

The sports staff at the Daily World finally decided 10 players -- five players on the first team and five more on the second team -- that were deserving of such an honor.

First team

Jacob Birch, White River Valley, Sr. -- Birch was one of the most improved players in the area this season.

The senior swing man had one of the best scoring games in the area past five or six seasons. In an 83-33 victory over Union (Dugger) on Feb. 17, Birch poured in a career-high 38 points.

He also tossed in 30 points in a 64-57 victory over Shakamak on Jan. 23. He was the only player to score at least 30 points twice in 2008-09.

For the season, he averaged 16.5 ppg, second in the area and the best of his career, which started at Eastern Greene.

He was the area's most accurate foul shooter this season. He made 99 of 116, an .853 clip.

Andy Cochrane, Bloomfield, Jr. -- This 6-3 forward paced the Cardinals in scoring at 12.2 ppg, earning a spot on the first team for a second consecutive season.

He was among the leaders in 3-point shooting. Cochrane connected on 50 of 125, good for 40 percent.

He was 6-for-8 shooting and scored 16 points in the sectional championship game against Eastern Greene, including 11 to key a second-half comeback.

In the Class 2A Southridge Regional against Brownstown Central, he also made 6 of 8 and finished with 15 points.

David Gray, Eastern Greene, Sr. -- David Gray is one of those players whose contributions cannot be measured by statistics alone, according to Eastern Greene coach Andy Igel.

Gray, who was honorable mention Academic All-State, only averaged a meager 5.1 points per game, but night in and night out defended the opponents best perimeter player..

Gray averaged 1.5 steals and 1.4 deflections per game, pacing the Thunderbirds both categories. His 37 steals was near the top among area players.

Igel said that Gray, who was named to the all-SWIAC team, was the hardest working player that he has ever coached during his 13 years at Eastern Greene.

Billy Newton, Shakamak, Jr. -- This junior forward is an All-Area first-team selection for the third consecutive season. He led all area players in scoring for the third straight year.

The 6-3 Newton poured in 20.0 points per game on average. He made 56.7 percent of his shots to go with a team best 6.9 rebounds per game.

Newton, who led the area with 108 made free throws (.692 percentage) has already eclipsed the 1,000-point plateau in his career.

He was an all-Tri-River Conference and all-Southwestern Indiana Athletic Conference selection again this season.

Scored a career-high 31 points in a 90-56 victory over North Vermillion to begin the season on Nov. 29, 2008.

Jordan Tharp, Linton-Stockton, Sr. -- Tharp was one of the most consistent performers in the area this season. Rarely did this senior center score in single digits.

He possessed one of the most accurate mid-range jumpers, averaging 10.5 points per game.

Tharp was one of seven area players score in double digits on average.

Tharp, who was a second-team All-Area selection last year, also paced the Miners in rebounding.

Like Gray, Tharp was honorable mention Academic All-State.

Second team

Logan Chesterfield, Union (Dugger), Sr. -- This senior guard finished his career by averaging 10.1 ppg, earning a spot on the second unit for a second year in a row.

Chesterfield made the all-Southwestern Indiana Athletic Conference team and was a second-team all-TRC selection.

Chesterfield shot 70 percent from the foul line -- making 74 of 105 attempts.

He also averaged 3.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.

B.J. Howard, Union (Dugger), Sr. -- Although his scoring fell slightly this season, this 6-0 swingman finished third in the area in scoring -- 13.0 ppg per game.

Howard, who was a first-team selection a year ago, had one of three 30-plus point games in the area during the boys basketball season. He poured in career-high 31 at North Knox in December. He led the Bulldogs with 38 3-pointers while making 32 percent from distance.

Howard, who was a first-team all-Tri-River Conference selection, also was among the leaders in the area in rebounding (6.2 per game) and steals (2.2).

Kurt Schulte, Bloomfield, Sr. -- Schulte was one of the most-improved players in the area this season. Starting in his career for the first time on varsity, Schulte was one of the area's most accurate shooters.

The forward shot 56 percent from the field, making 74 of 133 attempts. He averaged 9.2 points per game

Schulte had a flair for the dramatic as he made three free throws in the final seconds as the Cardinals defeated Eastern Greene in the Class 2A Sectional championship game.

One night earlier, Schulte hit what proved to be the game-winning 3-pointer in the final seconds of overtime in a sectional semifinal victory over South Knox.

Jared Shelton, White River Valley, Jr. -- Shelton had a season-high 24 points in a 64-53 victory at Linton-Stockton in December. He made 9 of 13 shots, including 4 of 6 3-pointers, to go with four rebounds, two steals and four assists.

For the season, Shelton was fourth in the area in scoring -- 12.9 points per game.

Shelton, who was on the first unit in 2008, made 52 of 75 free throws, good for a .693 clip.

Rick Tally, Bloomfield, Sr. -- Tally's was among the best in the area in field goal shooting.

He connected on 70 of 109 shots, which is good for over 64 percent, earning a spot on the second team for a second straight season.

The 6-3 center was among the area leaders in rebounds at 6.3 per game. He also scored 8.3 points on average.

Tally, another player who contribution goes far beyond the stat sheet, had just 13 blocked shots on the season.

But his block against Jeramy Lucas helped the Cardinals defeat the defending champion South Knox Spartans by one point in overtime in the sectional semifinals.

B.J. Hargis is the sports editor at the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached at (812) 847-4487, ext. 12 or at hargisbj@yahoo.com.

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