Coming into this season, Blue Valley Northwest senior guard Clayton Custer had a lot of goals. Luckily for him, he was able to accomplish them.
Custer, who helped the Huskies repeat as Kansas Class 6A state champions this season, capped off a memorable high school career with the DiRenna Award on Thursday night at the Greater Kansas City Basketball Coaches Association All-Star Challenge Awards Show. The DiRenna Award is given to the top basketball player in the Kansas City area.
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“This year turned out to be pretty much as perfect as it could have been,” Custer said. “We won state, and I owe a lot of this stuff that has happened after the year to what my teammates and I did during the season and my coaches, because if we hadn’t won state and won all the games we won, these things don’t come along.”
Custer, who has signed with Iowa State, and the Huskies went 23-2 in winning the state title. He averaged 19 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals per game.
The other boys finalists were Monte Harrison of Lee’s Summit West, Kevin Puryear of Blue Springs South, Joe Schneider of Lansing and Tyrone Taylor II of Grandview.
On the girls side, Truman senior Becca Jonas was selected over Imani Johnson of Lee’s Summit North, Tyler Johnson of Leavenworth, Kylee Kopatich of Olathe South and Monique Townson of Staley.
“You look at some of the names on the trophy, and there are some big names up there,” Jonas said. “Those are some big footsteps to follow.”
Jonas, who is headed to Drake University, led her team to a 25-2 record and an appearance in the Missouri Class 5 state sectionals. She averaged 18.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and four assists per game.
The coaches’ association also announced the Eddie Ryan Awards for coaches of the year. On the boys side, it was Lansing coach Rod Briggs, who steered the Lions to a perfect 25-0 record and the Kansas Class 5A state title. For the girls, it was Tricia Lillygren. who coached Lee’s Summit North to a 24-6 record and runner-up finish in the Missouri Class 5 state tournament.
Ryan, who compiled a 314-122 record in 18 years as a head coach around the area, and Wayne Van Dine who has coached 38 years in the Kansas City area were inducted into the association’s Hall of Fame.
Former Turner and Bishop Ward coach Joel Heider was recognized with the Tom Colwell Lifetime Achievement Award. Tim Bishop was presented with the Walt Tylicki Memorial Award, which honors the top assistant coach in the area.
The coaches’ association also gave out the Barrett Wepler No. 4 Award to Emily Ballard of Oak Park and Brady Skeens of Shawnee Mission Northwest. The award honors academic achievement with a $1,000 scholarship.