Trio headline annual squad

ELKINS – Selecting The Inter-Mountain’s Player of the Year was no easy task.

Three players were equally deserving of the honor – Lewis County’s John Riley, Elkins High’s Logan Phillips and Tucker County’s Ian Nichols.

So the only resolution was to name all three as co-players of the year as voted on by The Inter-Mountain’s sports staff.

The senior trio shared similar statistics, all topped 1,000 points for their careers and led their respected teams to deep runs during the postseason.

Riley, a 6-foot-5 center, averaged 23 points and 12 rebounds for the Minutemen, who lost to Hedgesville in the regionals. He was selected to the first team of the Class AAA all-state squad and was the Big 10 Conference’s Player of the Year. Riley also has been selected to play in the North-South Classic in June.

Phillips, a 6-3 forward, led the Tigers in scoring with 23 points per game and also was one of the team’s top rebounders. He earned honorable mention all-state laurels and was selected to the first team of the Big 10 Conference squad.

Nichols, a 6-3 forward, averaged nearly 16 points and 6.1 rebounds for the Mountain Lions, who advanced to the Class A state tournament. He was a second team all-state selection and member of the all-PVC squad. Nichols also will play in the North-South Classic in June.

The remainder of the team includes Buckhannon-Upshur’s Zane Clevenger, Philip Barbour’s Al Johnson, Tygarts Valley’s Derrick Villarico, Harman’s Casey Elza, Pendleton County’s Evan Arrington, Moorefield’s Aaron Cole and Pocahontas County’s Cary Robertson.

Clevenger, a senior, averaged 8.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists for the Bucs.

The versatile Johnson was the lone senior for the Colts this season. He was one of the team leaders in points, rebounds, assists and steals.

Villarico, a senior, was one of the leading scorers and rebounders for the Bulldogs, despite missing the first four games with a shoulder injury suffered during football season. He was a Class A honorable mention all-state choice and all-PVC selection.

Elza, a junior, helped lead Harman to a 10-5 record and sectional victory over South Harrison. He earned Class A honorable mention all-state honors, as well as PVC laurels.

Arrington, a senior, emerged as one of the top players in the region this season, averaging 18.5 points and 6.5 rebounds. He went over 1,000 points for his career in earning Class A all-state honorable mention laurels and all-PVC accolades.

Cole, a junior forward, helped lead a young Yellow Jacket squad this season as both a scorer and rebounder. He was a Class A all-state honorable mention pick, as well as an all-PVC selection.

Robertson, a junior, led the Warrior in scoring with 8.7 points per game and was an all-PVC choice.

The Coach of the Year is Tucker County’s Tom Gutshall, who retired after the season. Gutshall, in his 30-plus years as the Mountain Lion mentor, recorded over 500 wins and led the school to 20 state tournament berths.

Gutshall will serve as one of the coaches for the North squad in the North-South Classic in June.