Lists include Southwest Livingston's Anderson, Meadville's Gannan, Holcer, Ford of Hamilton, and 3-timer Crowe of Norborne
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
Including a choice which ended a nearly-2-decades drought, the Constitution-Tribune coverage area rolled a “lucky seven” in high school basketball during the recently-concluded high school basketball season, in the judgment of members of the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association.
Seven players – including Hunter Keithley and Westley Brandsgaard from Chillicothe (see separate stories for more details) – from teams covered regularly by the C-T were among the MBCA’s selections for its 2019-20 All-State teams.
As with Chillicothe, which advanced both of its teams to district-tournament championship games and one to state play, Class 1 Meadville also had both a boy – Dominik Gannan – and girl – Kiera Holcer – tabbed All-State by the coaches association after the Eagles advanced to the state quarterfinals and the Lady Eagles to the district finals.
Rounding out the ranks of area All-State honorees were Mack Anderson of Class 1 Southwest Livingston, Nora Ford of Class 2 Hamilton: Penney, and Kennadie Crowe of Class 1 Norborne’s Lady Pirates. All three are repeat picks from last season and Crowe is a third-time selection.
The crop of seven All-Staters is the C-T area’s largest since eight were included on the 2011-12 MSSA teams (the MSSA has not selected an All-State team since the 2013-14 season).
Of this year’s area All-State hoopsters, all except junior Holcer are seniors. All seven helped carry their respective school squads to the district-tournament finals or beyond.
Like Meadville’s boys, the Norborne girls advanced to the Class 1 state quarterfinals, while Chillicothe’s girls lost in the first round of state action. Chillicothe’s boys dropped their district-title game by one point, Hamilton’s girls theirs by two, and Southwest Livingston’s boys by three. Only the MHS girls, drilled by eventual Class 1 state-quarterfinalist Green City by 30, didn’t come within one basket of also being state participants.
Anderson completed a sensational career which saw him surpass 2,000 career points and well over 1,000 rebounds with averages of 22.1 tallies and 13 boards a game as a senior.
The mobile 6’6” center – also an All-State performer in football and track-and-field – provided 4.6 assists, 3.3 shot blocks, and 2.7 steals per contest this past season as the Wildcats won the Carroll-Livingston Activity Association (CLAA) tournament championship for the first time in several decades, shared the CLAA regular-season crown with Keytesville, and went 19-6 overall. A repeat all-conference defensive team pick, his overall impact earned him CLAA regular-season most valuable player recognition for a third-consecutive campaign.
Assessed his senior-year coach, Dana Hansen, who has confirmed his plans to retire after a lengthy coaching career, “Mack was the kind of player every coach would love to have on their team. I was blessed to be asked to coach at Southwest this year.
“He is a great all-around athlete, a good student, and a fine young man. Mack … showed how unselfish he was on the offensive end … as well as showing what a force he was defensively.
“We had a really good season, due to his leadership. Southwest will be sad to see him graduate. Other schools will be happy.”
Gannan and Crowe put up impressive individual statistics while leading their respective squads to their latest conference and district titles and then to the state quarterfinals before the eventual runnerup sidetracked them.
The Tri-County Conference most valuable player overcame a couple of health challenges – an appendectomy around New Year’s and two separate bouts with the flu, Meadville Eagles coach Drew Nier notes, to pace the team, first, to a perfect league mark and, then, four postseason victories before St. Elizabeth fended them off in a state-tournament quarterfinal game which featured a memorable first-half display of 3-points shooting by both teams.
“Dominik was outstanding,” his coach declares after the 6’ guard averaged 18 points, seven rebounds, and three assists per game for the 26-3 Eagles. Gannan sank 52 percent of his shots from the field and 35 percent from 3-points range.
He capped his high school career with one of his best performances, netting a team-high 28 points in the loss to St. Elizabeth.
“He’s a hard-working, team-first player who really stepped into a leadership role for our team,” Nier praises the 3-times all-TCC choice. “The best thing about this honor for Dominik is he will be the first one to give credit to his teammates for helping him achieve it.”
Crowe is recognized at the state level by the MBCA for a third time after being a 4-times all-CLAA first-teamer (including her freshman year at Tina-Avalon) and twice being the loop’s most valuable girls’ player. She also was MSSA all-northwest district the past three seasons and the CLAA Tournament most valuable player both as a junior and senior.
“Kennadie has been an integral part of our teams that went a combined 69-10 the past three years, including two trips to the state quarterfinals,” NHS coach Ken Brown comments.
“It is a huge accomplishment to be named to the All-State team. This makes the third-consecutive year Kennadie was named, which is amazing.”
As a senior, she became Norborne’s all-time leading girls’ scorer with more than 1,700 career points while amassing an average of 18.8 points per game. Her playing time in the fourth quarter of many runaway wins for the 27-2 Lady Pirates either very limited or non-existent and multiple teammates being capable of putting the ball in the basket, as well – three other NHS girls averaged between 8.1 and 13.5 points a contest, Crowe easily could have averaged well into the 20s in points, had the situation called for it.
Stresses Brown, “The points will not be the only element that will be difficult to replace. Kennadie was also a great passer, rebounder and defender.
“She is just an all-around great player.”
She averaged a team-best 6.3 rebounds a game this past season, as well as 2.2 assists and 2.2 steals – the latter two numbers second-best on the Lady Pirates. She was a 52 percent shooter from the floor.
“We wish Kennadie the best of luck as she continues her basketball career and her academic career at North Central Missouri College in Trenton, where she’ll be a teammate of Ford, as well as soon-to-be Braymer graduate Jasmine Taylor, in the fall.
Ford paced Hamilton’s girls to a 21-5 mark, including a runnerup finish in the KCI Conference behind eventual Class 2 state champion East Buchanan, as she averaged 20.4 points, 4.4 steals, 3.1 assists, and three rebounds per game.
“Nora is a player that has worked extremely hard to earn everything that she has achieved,” points out Jordan Richman, her Penney High coach.
She was an unanimous all-KCI selection of league coaches as she was chosen to the all-conference squad for a fourth year in a row. The 5’6” guard – an outstanding long-range shooter, but able and more than willing to score inside or force fouls she converted into points at a high rate – also picked up her fourth MSSA all-northwest district nod.
“She is a team-first player that has been a special part of our program the last four years,” Richman relates. “She is the type of tough, selfless, competitive, and hard-working player every coach would love to have.”Holcer’s recognition profile elevated again after being all-Tri-County Conference and all-district for a third time in three seasons on the heels of the Meadville Lady Eagles’ 21-5 campaign.
“As a junior, Kiera is a leader on the court,” second-year MHS girls head coach Caitlin Jones comments. “She leads the team in scoring and can be a real threat offensively; shooting 35 percent beyond the arc and 68 percent from the (free-throw) line. Defensively, she creates just as much pressure.:
This past season, Holcer sank 55 percent of her 2-points shot attempts, as well, as she posted a team-high scoring average of 18 points. She also led the Lady Eagles in assists, averaging 2.8 a game, while making 2.3 steals on average.
She reached a notable career milestone – her 1,000th high school point – very early in the season and, assuming good health, will head into her senior season with 1,363 career points. That has her on track for a final career total in the neighborhood of 1,800 markers, among the highest in the outstanding MHS program’s history.
“Overall, she is not only a great athlete, but also an amazing young lady,” Jones compliments.