Jaczko, Counts lead all-league selections
Newberg boys basketball standout Alex Jaczko and St. Paul girls star Erin Counts were rewarded for outstanding campaigns, as each was named first-team all-league by coaches in the respective conferences.
In all, area teams produced four first-team performers, with Isabelle Wyss Counts also getting the nod in the Tri-River Conference and Micah Grobey earning the honor in the Casco League for the second straight season.
Jaczko led Newberg (11-14, 5-9) to a sixth-place finish in the Three Rivers League, helping the Tigers win seven more games overall and four more within the conference than the previous season. Also earning honorable mention honors were sophomore point guard Jack Chlumak and senior Ben O'Loughlin.
Just a junior, Jaczko averaged a team-high 14.8 points per game, while also grabbing 4.9 rebounds per contest and shooting 64 percent on all field goals, which is an outstanding rate considering he shoots from all over the court.
"I'm so proud of that kid and it's so huge for him, as a junior, to be recognized as first-team all-league in the Three Rivers League," NHS coach Mark Brown said. "It's pretty amazing."
Counts and Wyss led St. Paul to a historic season, as the Bucks finally broke through with their first state playoff appearance since moving up to 2A. The team wasn't done there, finishing the season ranked No. 6 before making a cinderella run to third-place.
As the engine that drove St. Paul's offense, Counts had a lot to do with the team's success. After playing more in the post as a freshman, Counts took over much of the ball-handling duties as a sophomore, which in turn freed up Wyss to patrol the post. With Counts initiating the offense, often driving to the hole to collapse the defense or draining mid-range jumpers, the Bucks were very hard for teams to defend.
"She's so multi-dimensional as a player," coach Dave Matlock said. "It's not just about scoring. She gets a lot of rebounds. She led us in assists this year by a mile. She sets everybody else up and she makes everybody better around her, so sometimes statistically it doesn't look as impressive as maybe it could."
In 29 games over the course of the season, Counts averaged 13.0 points, compiled a team-high 117 assists, finished second on the team with 83 steals and 205 rebounds.
Wyss put up 13.5 points per game and was third in both steals (61) and rebound (194). When Counts was forced to sit out the state semifinals with an ankle injury, Wyss led the team with 13 points and eight rebounds and was named to the all-tournament second team.
Joining the two sophomores in gaining league recognition were junior guard Emma Connor, who made the second team, and senior Logan Robinson, who earned third-team accolades.
At C.S. Lewis Academy, Grobey took another big step forward in his junior season, going from a volume scorer on a team that wasn't competitive with the top squads in the Casco League to the league's leading scorer as the Watchmen placed fourth.
This past season, Grobey averaged 22 points, 9.5 point rebounds (second in the leauge) and 2.7 assists per game. He was also flanked by Jacob More and Dylan Stroup, both of whom were named honorable mention.
"We weren't necessarily in close games all the time last year, where this year every bucket he scored really meant something," CSLA coach Brett Vernon said. "And he always had five sets of eyes on him the entire game, so he did a great job of also distributing more, almost doubling his assist total."
Rounding out all-league honors, the St. Paul boys basketball team had three players recognized, led by second-teamer Campbell Smith, a senior post. Junior Guards Justin Herberger and Jaidyn Jackson were named third-team and honorable mention respectively.
For the Newberg girls, senior Giselle Benetti was named honorable mention after leading the Tigers with 8.9 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.