Even though she had been through the process one time before, Leavenworth senior Tyler Johnson was not prepared to hear her name announced as the Greater Kansas City Basketball Coaches Association DiRenna Award winner on Thursday night.
Johnson, who was a finalist for the award for the second straight season, was selected from a group of five as the top girls player in the metro area and honored at the 2015 GKCBCA All-Star Awards Show at the Ritz Charles in Overland Park.
The other four finalists for the award were her teammate Rachel Blackburn, St. Thomas Aquinas’ Claire Ferguson, Bishop Miege’s Madeline Homoly and Truman’s Kierra Collier.
“I got so nervous because I knew I had to talk and my hands started shaking,” Johnson said. “I am really honored to receive this.”
Never miss a local story.
Johnson led the Pioneers to a second consecutive Kansas Class 5A state title averaging 11 points and six rebounds per game. She will continue her career at the University of Kansas next season.
Her counterpart on the boys side was Blue Springs South’s Kevin Puryear, who signed with the University of Missouri.
He broke single-season program scoring, rebound and total field goal records averaging 20 points and eight rebounds per game. He was the Big 6 Conference player of the year, district player of the year and 610 Sports player of the year. Behind him, the Jaguars won their first Missouri Class 5 state championship.
“My stomach dropped a little bit,” Puryear said. “I’ve been thinking about it all week and hoping I would get it. To actually get it is really exciting.”
The other boys finalists were Lawrence’s Anthony Bonner, Bishop Miege’s Alston Jones, Lee’s Summit’s Drew Lock and Park Hill’s Landry Shamet.
The DiRenna finalists will split into Kansas and Missouri teams and add several more local seniors for the GKCBCA All-Star Challenge on Friday at Shawnee Mission South. The girls game will start at 6 p.m. and the boys game will follow 15 minutes after the conclusion of the girls game. There will be a dunk contest at halftime of the boys game.
Puryear’s coach Jimmy Cain won the Eddie Ryan Award as the top boys coach in the metro. He has been at Blue Springs South for 12 seasons with a career record of 195-131. Under him, the Jaguars have five consecutive 20-win seasons, three conference titles and four district titles.
Bishop Miege coach Terry English won his third Eddie Ryan Award on the girls side after leading his team to a 25-0 record and repeating as Kansas Class 4A Division I state champions. The 2001 GKCBCA Hall of Fame inductee, has been with the Stags for 38 years and has won 18 state championships with an overall record of 773-159.
Homoly, a Miege senior and Eastern Kansas League player of the year, was selected to receive the Barrett Wepler Award, which is a scholarship given to one female and one male member of the All-Academic Team. Leavenworth’s Jacob Boyce won the boys award.
William Jewell assistant women’s basketball coach Steve Broughton, who coached Truman high school boys for 14 seasons, was one of two GKCBCA Hall of Fame inductees. The other was Blue Springs girls basketball coach Mark Spigarelli. He previously coached at Pembroke Hill from 1994-2008.
Long-time scorekeeper and shot clock operator Mike Miller was honored with the Tom Colwell Lifetime Achievement Award. He served as the official scorer for 80 games last season in the Kansas City area.
Jude Gerstner, who coaches St. Thomas Aquinas’ freshman boys, received the Walt Tylicki Award as the top assistant.