BLUE & GOLD ALL-TOURNAMENT
DISCLAIMER: Our all-tournament team is solely developed and produced by the SWMOBasketball staff. It is not affiliated with the Blue & Gold or anyone else. We didn’t really consider players in the consolation bracket for the all-tournament team for a wide variety of reasons. First, it means more to perform in the winner’s bracket where the better teams are on a larger stage and in games that mean more … players in the consolation bracket are being considered and will be involved in the other developing stories that will be posted today and on New Years, but the all-tournament team is limited to five players, plus an MVP from the winner’s bracket.
MVP: Jake Branham, 6’2, PG, 2019, Catholic
Branham was the SWMOBasketball preseason selection as the COC Small Player of the Year, but even given those accolades he seems to be a player who is flying under the radar in area basketball circles. He put together a strong tournament performance, including scoring 11 points in the Fighting Irish’s championship win over Republic in a low-scoring contest. He is a smooth ball handling point guard who makes plays off the bounce, gets to the basket and brings poise and leadership qualities to the court.
Broc Smith, 6’4, G/F, 2019, Republic
Smith doesn’t put up huge scoring numbers for Republic, in large part because the Tigers don’t put up huge numbers. They play defense, work the ball on offense and rely on good shots, execution and a willingness to move the ball, cut and set solid screens. And while he’s probably Republic’s most important offensive player, Smith has taken his game to new heights in other area’s this season. He was also one of the tournament’s premier rebounders, going for a game-high 15 boards to go along with 16 points in Thursday’s semifinals. He has also emerged as a talented defender and reliable post player. He went for a game-high 13 points in the championship loss on Friday.
Quinn Nelson, 6’3, SG, 2018, Ozark
One of the area’s premier shooters, Nelson put together a strong tournament to help lead Ozark to the semifinals where they fell in a hard fought game to Republic. Nelson brings leadership qualities to the court, as well as the ability to make shots from the perimeter and is an underrated defender.
Ian Cochran, 6’7, F, 2018, Catholic
Cochran came up big for the FIghting Irish in the championship game, scoring a game-high 14 points. He was a presence in the paint throughout the tournament, scoring around the basket, defending opposing team’s big men, and showing off a nice outside shooting touch.
Hunter Creek, 5’10, PG, 2018, Republic
Creek is a tough, no nonsense point guard who plays with emotion and passion. It was tough picking a second Republic player as there were four or five players who all had similar impact on the Tigers’ performance over the week, but Creek is a standout ball handler who brings elite speed and quickness to the court. Teams had a hard time staying in front of him and he made several forays into the lane and created chances for others.
Luke Vandersnick, 6’4, F, 2019, Rogersville
Vandersnick is among the area’s most versatile players, capable of playing in the paint, on the perimeter or handling some guard duties. Rogersville found a ways to scrap and claw out several hard fought wins, including the third-place game on Friday over Ozark. Vandersnick was among the tournament’s premier defensive players, showcasing the ability to defend on the perimeter as well as guard big men in the paint.
MVP: Cade Coffman, 6’4, F/G, 2018, Mountain Grove
With all apologies to everyone else at this year’s Blue and Gold Tournament field, Coffman had the best week of basketball of anyone. He might very well be the area’s best 3-point shooter, but can also post up, rebound and score from all over the court. He has solidified himself as an area Player of the Year candidate. Coffman had one of his best performances of the tournament in the semifinals against Kickapoo, scoring 29 points and hauling in seven rebounds while knocking down five 3-pointers. In Saturday’s championship game, Coffman went for 21 points and added a game-high 12 rebounds.
Connor McNew, 6’1, SG, 2018, Mountain Grove
McNew has brought back the mid-range game to high school basketball in a big way. He loves the area around the free throw line and he’s nearly automatic whether it is with one dribble pull-ups or curling off screens and freeing himself for open 15-17 foot jumpers. Blessed with a big, strong frame, McNew does a lot of other things well on the court as well — he rebounds, defends and handles the ball a little. Like all of the Mountain Grove players, he brings an unselfish attitude to the court and plays within the team concept.
Kyle Bushman, 6’8, PF/C, 2018, Mount Vernon
Bushman has emerged as one of the area’s most underrated big men and put together a strong tournament. He is an excellent rebounder, a quality shot blocker and plays with terrific energy at both ends of the floor. He has an emerging offensive game in the post, can step out and knock down perimeter shots on occasion or even throw down impressive slams in traffic. Bushman was easily among the tournament’s top big men throughout the week.
Braeden Combs, 6’2, G, 2019, Nixa
Combs saved his best for last so to speak as he came off the bench to put together a big performance in the championship game, scoring 20 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter as Nixa attempted to mount a comeback against Mountain Grove. One of the area’s most talented 2019 guards, Combs can do a little bit of everything well, he gets to the basket, shoots from the outside and is a strong ball handler in the backcourt. Nixa has a balanced team and several players who had their moments throughout the week, including seniors Max Bilbrey, Nathan Elmer and Tailen Canady, but for the Eagles to reach their potential this season they will need Combs to continue where he left off against Mountain Grove.
Dylan Massey, 6’4, PF, 2019, Mountain Grove
Three of six players on the all-tournament team for Mountain Grove may seem like overkill, but truth is, they all deserve mention, as does 2018 PG Carter Otwell. Massey was a force on the boards throughout the tournament and is a tough match-up in the paint for opposing teams. He plays with tremendous passion and intensity, and has some skill, able to step away and shoot a little from the outside or drive to the basket. His health is a big reason the Panthers are putting together a big season.
Kaleb Wofford, 6’1, SG, 2021, Nixa
Wofford had several big games and gave the Eagles some scoring punch on the perimeter. He has 3-point range well beyond the 3-point arc, can create his own shot off the bounce and has a smooth mid-range game. He plays with confidence and is comfortable in a scorer’s role, bringing quality efficiency to the court as he understands good shot selection for a young player. While he puts up good offensive numbers, it mostly comes within the flow of the offense.