The 2016-2017 girls and boys high school basketball season was probably more than any could have anticipated. It delivered arguably the most memorable at any time. With the boys and girls state tournaments behind us, we can now present our superlatives for both sports. And we present these honors while having a little latitude in the postseason.
Girls Coach of the Year: Doug Sporrer, Keller
So often it is said that when you build a consistent program, you’re also used to making deep runs in the playoffs. The 2016 Class 6A playoff run was shorter than anticipated. That went to the area round. The 2017 playoff run was far better. Sporrer guided the Lady Indians to the regional tournament. With a roster that featured 1,000-point scorer Ryanne Johnson, the expectations to break through were there. But playing up to them is another matter. This team did that. The season record closed at 29-6 with a loss to eventual state champion Duncanville in the Region I semifinals.
Girls Player of the Year: Bryn Gerlich, Colleyville Heritage
When head coach Dianna Sager called this 2016-2017 team as good as the 2006-2007 team that went to the regional tournament, she wasn’t kidding. It had all of the parts led by five seniors. But Gerlich, a 6-0 junior forward, continued to be the go-to player of this team. She averaged 19.5 points per game and shot 54 percent on shots inside the 3-point lane. But she became an even better passer. Those little things built a season that culminated in a 29-7 record, a first-time ever undefeated district record in school history (14-0) and an appearance in the Class 5A Region I tournament in Snyder. The season ended in the semifinals with a loss to Amarillo.
Boys Coach of the Year: Jeremy Mills, Grapevine
This is nothing against Keller coach Randall Durant or Justin Northwest’s Mike Hatch. We probably would have made them co-coaches of the year. But the reason we went with Mills was because finding a winning combination at Grapevine has been nothing short of a challenge for decades. That’s not an exaggeration. It’s a tough place to win. However, Mills accepted the challenge when he took over the job. In 2016-2017, the Mustangs went 22-16 and advanced to the playoffs for the second consecutive year. When they defeated Fort Worth O.D. Wyatt in the bi-district round, 57-56, it was the program’s first playoff win since 1985.
Boys Co-Players of the Year: R.J. Nembhard, Keller; Avery Anderson, Justin Northwest
There are no words to describe what Nembhard, a senior who has signed with TCU, and Anderson, a sophomore, meant for seasons that finished with both teams traveling to San Antonio to the Class 5A and 6A state tournaments. Each became dynamic scorers via their ability to hit jumpers, drive the lane, defer to teammates with better shots and become better defenders. For the regular season, Anderson averaged 21 points per game. Nembhard averaged 26. For the playoffs, Anderson averaged 22. Nembhard averaged 31. To favor one over the other would be a disservice.