Why? Because he hit the absolute biggest shot of the year, handing North Side their only SAC loss and only loss period for a long, long time. Barnfield’s overtime buzzer beater from the corner on December 16 was the shot of the year and anyone who disagrees may be a little off. Sure, there are better pure shooters in the area and without that game, I’d be prone to say I want Huntington North’s Hunter Hollowell or North Side’s Juan Quarles to shoot me out of a jam. But that game did happen and Shooter will never get that image, and the excitement around it, out his head.
Sensational Sixth: Richard Robertson, Northrop
I said it with the girls and I will say it again, picking a Fabulous Five out of all these kids is hard. But we sure missed the boat on Robertson, who was…I will say it…the best pure scorer in the area this year. He was absolutely clutch from long range, but his reverse layup to dagger New Haven at the buzzer was my favorite performance of his. We may have not thought he was one of the area’s top five players when the season began, but I can say unequivocally now that he absolutely is one of the best five.
Dynamic Duo: Jalen Paul and Dakota Barkley, Churubusco
The NBA has taught us to look fondly for a “big three” or “Splash Brothers,” but the NBA is also garbage. So Shooter dared himself to find the perfect complimenting teammates based on my own terms. Nobody stood out more than Busco’s Paul and Barkley, who are my favorite inside-outside duo. They are both capable of putting up big scoring numbers while Barkley could be a rebounding beast and Paul threw out assists to so many people, I think I scored off a couple.
Best in Class: Sophomores (Class of 2019)
I’m sorry, but when you have a kid like Keion Brooks Jr. of North Side in your class, you win. OK, so I’m not so sorry. The high-major recruit is in a dunk contest of his own pretty much every game but he also has a lot around him in the sophomore class. In fact, if Brooks and fellow sophomore Craig Young could have a dunk contest, I’d pay quite a bit for a ticket. A lot more of this group including, but not limited to, Blackhawk Christian’s Lucas Kroft, Carroll’s Dan McKeeman, South Side’s Mikale Stevenson and Leo’s Will Moreau all flashed brilliance this season.
Hey, you look like my lawyer: Jack Ferguson, Homestead
I have to say, this was Shooter’s toughest award. I looked through the perfectly combed and gelled hair styles of certain area players for hours. I looked over each for a stray hair that has escaped the brushed down beauty that Shooter’s attorney has mastered. But at the end of the day, Ferguson’s hair was just too perfect for me. I can only assume it makes the ladies hearts go pitter patter. Do not worry if you miss out on Jack, Shooter finds the coiffure of Campbell Donovan, Keegan Fetters and Logan Kruse to be dazzling too.
Game of the Year: North Side vs. Snider, December 16
Shooter watched this game courtside and I am pretty sure my heart beat out of my chest 15-20 times. I love a good thriller and this one had all of the makings. Snider hit the big shots, North Side made the big plays and yet we came down to two facts that were game changers: Keion Brooks Jr. missing two free throws at the end of regulation and Snider doing a beautiful jump leaking out on offense after North shockingly tied it in the closing seconds of overtime. That leak out, after Jaylen Butz tied the game on a steal and dunk, led to the aforementioned Barnfield three and the instant classic got a classic finish.
Coach of the Year: Jeremy Rauch, Snider
Snider hadn’t won the SAC in eight years, struggling in big game after big game under their former coach. And who would have thought that implanting a coach from DeKalb would be the answer. Rauch led the Panthers to the conference crown amidst the deepest conference in years, with at least five legitimate title contenders. He also ended the Panthers' eight year drought without a postseason win by downing Carroll in Sectional play. Rauch perfectly blended his composed, think ahead play style with the run and gun that his players were superb at and it all meshed at the right times.
Follow Shooter on Twitter all offseason at Shooter_ns