Warrior star highlights all-area team; Brunelli takes coaching honors

Apr. 07, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

Isaiah Hicks’ anonymity was short-lived at J.F. Webb.

He burst onto the scene as a skinny, 6-foot-7 freshman, his potential readily on display as he made an immediate impact. By the time he transferred back to Webb for his junior season, he was a prep star, having committed to North Carolina before the season began. 

Hicks, the 2013 all-area boys player of the year, improved greatly with each of his high school seasons. 

“He’s the most improved player in a year’s time I’ve seen,” Northern Vance coach Wilton Baskett said after watching Hicks go for 35 points, 14 rebounds, seven steals, and four blocks in the Vikings’ home loss to the Warriors.

Hicks, averaging 24 points, 15 rebounds and eight blocks for the season, scored at least 12 points in each game this season. The McDonald’s All-American came up big when it mattered most, putting the team on his shoulders in the fourth quarter of the 3-A regional final against Rocky Mount before an unforgettable 34-point, 30-rebound performance in Webb’s state championship win in overtime against Statesville.

Hicks watched the final 19 seconds from the sideline after fouling out, but his teammates picked up the slack, finishing out a 73-70 win. Four Warriors join Hicks on the all-area team and Webb’s Leo Brunelli is the all-area coach of the year.

Webb (27-5) won eight games against Vance and Granville county opponents by an average of nearly 40 points. The Warriors lost only two games all season to N.C. High School Athletic Association teams. Both were to conference rival Chapel Hill.

Webb’s success wasn’t achieved by Hicks alone. The Warriors played as a team with any one of its “six starters” capable of stepping into the role of leader.

The confidence Brunelli showed in his reserve players proved to be an important part of the playoff run. After the Warriors’ conference tournament title loss at Chapel Hill, Tyler Thomas and Tobiah Lewis each saw their role expand significantly and the added depth was crucial for a team that had been playing with such a short rotation.

Joining Hicks on the all-area first team is Webb’s Mitron Terry. Terry emerged as a scoring threat as a sophomore, but took his game to another level as a junior this season, averaging 12 points, five rebounds and three assists.

Terry seemed unstoppable at times in the playoff win at Chapel Hill, tallying 25 points. The slasher scored 14 in the state final including a couple of clutch free throws late in the game.

Next to Hicks, Southern Vance junior Ty-Traveon Roberts was the most athletic player in the area, averaging 14 points and seven rebounds. The versatile Roberts gets above the rim with ease, but is also capable of getting hot from outside.

Northern Vance senior Le’Darius Brandon knows a thing or two about getting hot from the outside. The three-time Carolina all-conference selection was a 3-point assassin for the Vikings, averaging 16.7 points.

Brandon drained four first-quarter 3s to keep Northern close in its second game against Webb, nailing another before halftime to get the Vikings within three points before the Warriors pulled away for a win. When Brandon was on, the Vikings were tough to beat.

Hicks scored 30 or more points seven times, but not even he reached 38 points like Kerr-Vance’s R.J. Hunt did against Parrott Academy. Hicks’ highest scoring output was 37 against Franklinton.

Hunt, a sophomore, rounds out the first-team selections. He also had games of 36 and 28 points for the Spartans, finishing the season averaging 18.9 points while shooting 40 percent from 3-point range. He was runner-up for Eastern Plains Independent Conference Player of the Year.

His Spartan teammates, Brandon Dickerson and Derrius Perry are each second team selections. Dickerson could play at any position and finished averaging 14.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists. Perry may have been more suited to play guard, but moved to the post out of necessity and shined, averaging 13.1 points and 6.8 rebounds.

Webb’s Devonte Williams and Stefan Cates are also on the second team. Williams averaged nine points and three assists to one turnover and the sophomore point guard was undaunted on the biggest stages, making a habit of knocking down momentum-swinging jumpers.

Cates (10 ppg), a junior, is capable of exploding for high scoring outputs. He scored 23 points in a playoff win against Southern Wayne and 27 in the regional semifinal against Eastern Alamance. In both games, the guard recorded double-figure rebounds.

Daniel Hunter, a 6-foot-8 senior, was second in scoring for Warren County with 10.1 points and led the team in blocks (1.6) and rebounds (7.7). He rounds out the second team.

The third team consists of Webb’s Tyrek Beverly, Northern Vance’s Tavin Moore, Crossroads Christian’s Zach Reeves, and Warren County’s Charlie Williams and A.J. Alston.

Beverly, a junior perimeter player, put up eight points per contest for the Warriors and Moore, also a junior, was Northern’s second leading scorer, averaging 9.1 points.

Reeves is the only freshman on the all-area list. Colts’ head coach Joseph Cooper fancied Reeves as a wing player, but he led Crossroads at point guard. Cooper called Reeves a “head coach on the floor” after games of 19 and 17 points in KVA’s holiday tournament.

Junior guard Charlie Williams stepped up for Warren County in the absence of Justin Fitts, who missed most of the season with an injury. The sharpshooting Williams led the Eagles in scoring with 13.3 points per game. Teammate A.J. Alston averaged 7.5 points, 1.3 blocks and seven rebounds.

First team
Isaiah Hicks (J.F. Webb)
Mitron Terry (J.F. Webb)
Ty-Traveon Roberts (Southern Vance)
Le’Darius Brandon (Northern Vance)
R.J. Hunt (Kerr-Vance)

Second team
Devonte Williams (J.F. Webb)
Stefan Cates (J.F. Webb)
Brandon Dickerson (Kerr-Vance)
Derrius Perry (Kerr-Vance)
Daniel Hunter (Warren County)

Third team
Tyrek Beverly (J.F. Webb)
Charlie Williams (Warren County)
A.J. Alston (Warren County)
Tavin Moore (Northern Vance)
Zach Reeves (Crossroads Christian)

Contact the writer at kholtzman@hendersondispatch.com.