It was certainly a memorable season for the area boys basketball teams. Not only was there plenty of team success to go around, but there was several individuals whose performances were impossible to ignore and are recognized on our 2017 All-Herald Boys Basketball Team.
The All-Herald First-Team is loaded with players that had their fingerprints all over the state high school basketball landscape.
Newington had the best record during the regular season and made the deepest run in the postseason. There was no shortage of star power on the Indians this season and Matt McKinnon was one of the team’s stars.
The senior stepped into a starting role this season and was a beast from start to finish. The forward racked up 18 double-doubles and even finished the season averaging one. His 15.6 points and 11.2 rebounds per game helped him earn all-conference honors and his 257 rebounds was a Newington school record.
Off the court McKinnon was a two-time honor roll student and he plans to continue his playing career next year at Eastern Connecticut State University.
Joining McKinnon on the first-team is teammate and pick-and-roll brethren Jared Simmons. A regular on the All-Herald team, Simmons put up huge numbers once again despite the fact everyone in the state was aware of his talents.
The senior averaged more than 23 points per game and was named to the all-conference team and All-State team. Not only does Simmons leave Newington as its all-time leading scorer but also its top assist man.
The guard plans to take a prep year next season before potentially playing at the Division I level in two years.
Next on the first-team is another member of the All-State team, Berlin’s Spencer Duke. The Redcoats qualified for the postseason with Duke leading the way, despite an ankle injury.
The small forward’s numbers were incredible throughout the season, as he was top two on the team in almost every category. He averaged 24 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks per game.
Duke was an all-conference selection on top of being All-State and is a star off the court as well. He was an All-Academic choice three times and is a member of the National Honor Society.
He plans to continue his playing career next season, potentially at the Division II level, but has not yet decided where.
Southington places the fourth player on the first-team, Brendan Taylor. The Blue Knights made it to the state tournament for the first time in four years and the play of Taylor, a team captain, was a big reason why.
The senior averaged 11 points per game and had a season-high scoring output of 22. His work this season earned him a spot on the all-conference team.
While Taylor had a huge impact on the floor, he also is a top notch student, as he has a class rank of 25 out of 460 students. He has not yet decided where he will attend college next year.
Rounding out the first team is New Britain’s Jordan Williams. The Hurricanes didn’t make the postseason because of a rough start but the team rounded into form in the latter half of the season and that turnaround coincided with Williams’ personal turnaround.
The senior started off simply blending in, but once he took the reigns and decided he wanted to end his high school career on a high note, he carried the team on his back and put up big numbers, while beating several postseason teams in the process.
The shooting guard earned all-conference honors for his work as a senior and is planning on going to college and majoring in architecture next year.
The first-team is loaded with seniors, and for good reason. The All-Herald Second-Team has two seniors, but the rest are juniors that are in prime position to take over the first-team slots in a year’s time.
One of the seniors on the second-team is Berlin’s Kyle Mogielnicki. Duke got most of the attention for the Redcoats, and rightfully so, but Mogielnicki was an incredibly important player that had a big hand in the team’s success.
The guard was the second leading scorer for Berlin, averaging 10.6 points, and added more than three rebounds and three assists per game.
Mogielnicki dealt with a knee injury toward the end of the season which, along with a couple of other injuries, had the Redcoats in a tough position entering the postseason. Mogielnicki though, leaves school after a successful hoops career.
Next on the second team is Southington junior Andrew Lohneiss. The Blue Knights didn’t have a typical star player throughout the season but they had several players with the ability to step up any given game.
Lohneiss started every game for Southington and was as consistent as anyone on the team. He averaged more than 10 points per game and made more than 30 3-pointers.
Off the court, the junior is on the honor roll and was nominated for National Honor Society while boasting a 3.9 GPA.
Southington took a major step forward this season and Lohneiss will be one of the keys next season to make sure the team maintains this level of success. With one year to go at Southington, he doesn’t have college plans yet, but hopes to play basketball at the next level.
New Britain is represented on the second-team with Jahfari Newman. The junior forward was part of the big turnaround the Hurricanes were able to make this season, as the wins started to come when he was inserted into the starting lineup.
Newman was half of a front court that featured two 6-foot-6-plus players that made New Britain extremely difficult to guard. The junior is a versatile player that can score both inside and out while also being able to rebound with anybody in the state.
Newman is also the quarterback for the football team and will be back next year to wreak havoc in multiple sports once again.
Newington’s Andres Ithier-Vicenty is another senior on the second-team. Simmons and McKinnon were the two stars for the Indians, but Ithier-Vicenty was the prototypical glue guy for a highly successful team.
The guard made his mark on the defensive end of the floor where he was asked to guard the opponent’s best player game-in and game-out and typically did not disappoint, even at a size disadvatnage.
Ithier-Vicenty was not a one-trick pony, though, as he also had the ability to score. He didn’t average double figures in scoring, as he was the third option, but when McKinnon and Simmons were unavailable, he was able to take advantage of his matchup and put points on the board.
The senior has not decided his college plans yet, but believes he will spend one or two years at a community college before transferring to a university.
Rounding out the All-Herald Second-Team is Goodwin Tech’s Francisco Santiago. The Gladiators qualified for the state tournament after having a highly successful season and Santiago was the key cog.
The point guard earned all-conference honors for the second season in a row and became the first player in school history to reach the 1,000 point scoring mark as a junior. Santiago led the team in scoring and steals and will be back for more next year. He will undoubtedly be the leader of the team next year and will look to add to his already impressive point total while trying to bring even more team success.
With another year of high school left, Santiago doesn’t have college plans figured out yet, but hopes to continue playing basketball after his Goodwin Tech career is over.