Posted Online: March 04, 2013, 9:26 pm

Erie's Johnston named TRAC-9 boys' Player of the Year

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By Terry Duckett, tduckett@qconline.com

More photos from this shoot
Photo: Todd Welvaert
Erie guard Jacob Johnston charges down the lane during the Cardinal's match up with Mercer County at the Warkins Cardinal Classic, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, at the Erie High School gym.
The catalyst behind the Erie boys' basketball team's first regional championship in eight years, senior guard/forward Jacob Johnston turned in a season to remember both for himself and for the Cardinals (19-14).

So, it's only fitting that the 6-foot-4 standout was tabbed by the Three Rivers Conference as its Player of the Year for the 2012-13 prep campaign. Averaging over 23 points per game, Johnston hit his peak during Erie's Class 1A regional-title run, scoring 49 points in the semifinals against Shabbona Indian Creek and then 40 in a 73-65 title-clinching win over Paw Paw.

Johnston was the lone first-team pick for the Cardinals, who won regional gold for the first time since 2005 and only the second time since 1960. Fellow senior guard Connor Saad was an honorable-mention selection.

Johnston was also just one of two TRAC-9 standouts to earn unanimous first-team honors, the other being Kewanee senior guard Dayton Ince. Ince put up over 17 points per night to help the Boilermakers to a 22-5 finish and a perfect 14-0 title-run in the conference, in addition to helping his coach Steve Salisbury earn the league's Coach of the Year award.

Ince's freshman teammate, forward Donovan Oliver, did earn second-team kudos after averaging a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds per game. The Boilers' duo of senior guard Matt Gustafson and junior forward Dalton Nuding earned honorable-mention spots.

Two more area standouts earned first-team spots -- Riverdale senior guard Jared Richmond and Prophetstown senior forward Carter Ames. Richmond's 19 points per game helped the 15-14 Rams reach the 2A regional finals, while Ames led the 14-15 Prophets with 14 points a night.

Three more seniors -- Fulton's Nick Fish, Morrison's Alexander Volckmann and Prophetstown's Devin Johnson -- earned second-team berths. Prophetstown senior Zach Inskeep and Riverdale junior Mitchell Sand landed on the honorable-mention list.

Bureau Valley had a pair of selections in first-team sophomore guard Parker Neuhalfen and second-team sophomore forward Tommy Johnston.