An evening with the All-Stars

BY MIKE URSERY
SPORTS EDITOR
Radio station KRES (104.7 FM) held its 43rd Annual All-Star Banquet at Central Methodist University on March 29.
The radio station’s All-Star Banquet is an annual tradition, showcasing talented basketball players from around the region. They also select a boys and girls basketball Coach of the Year.
The boys Coach of the Year was  former Harrisburg head coach Steve Combs. Combs led the Bulldogs to a share of the Lewis and Clark Conference title and a trip to the Show-Me Showdown in Columbia.
Twenty-five coaches from the station’s coverage region stood at the podium at the front of the room to recognize their players who were selected as KRES All-Stars for the 2016-2017 season.
Seven area athletes were among the 30 players chosen: Glasgow seniors Hayden Hackman and Kennedy Davis, with junior Jaden Monnig; Harrisburg senior Brendan Gray and junior Cade Combs; Fayette junior Blake Dawson; and Higbee senior Rhiannon Runyon.
Fayette Falcons head coach Ben Pallardy stood at the podium to talk about Dawson and present him with his award.
The Falcons program has been on an upward swing in recent years, and Pallardy said that Dawson was a big reason for it.
“He’s been such a big part of being able to turn our program around,” Pallardy said. “His freshman year, we won seven games. He averaged 10 points a game and had a really good freshman year, but we knew more was to come.”
Dawson averaged more than 20 points per game over the last two seasons, and the Falcons posted winning records in those years.
“That has a lot to do with what Blake does,” Pallard said. “The biggest thing I will say about Blake, is that he is just such a competitor. He just wants to win at everything.”
Glasgow Lady Yellowjackets head coach Molly Monnig stood at the podium to present Jaden Monnig with her award.
She said Monnig averaged 19 points per game during the season, with 13 rebounds per game and 1.5 blocks per game.
“The biggest part of her development this season was her competitiveness and her leadership,” Molly Monnig said. “She became the athlete who constantly wanted to improve. During free time in class, anytime we had free time in the lab, she was watching crossovers. She was analyzing film, trying to see what it was she could do to get better to help her team get better.”
Monnig was selected first team All-Conference by the Central Activities Conference, and was named the league’s Most Valuable Player.
She was selected to the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association All-State team for the second year in a row, and has been named a KRES All-Star in as many years.
Glasgow boys head coach Mick Cropp walked up to the podium to present awards to both Davis and Hackman.
Cropp said Davis and Hackman, along with senior Adam Monnig, started for Glasgow over the last three years. In that span, Cropp said the Yellowjackets have won 96 games, three district titles and made two straight trips to the Show-Me Showdown.
Cropp said that he has been fortunate to have a team full of talented and coachable players, and that these two were the ringleaders of that group.
“It didn’t matter if it was a practice, a walkthrough or a shootaround, the easiest game or the hardest game, these guys brought it every single day,” Cropp said.
The Yellowjackets have been a team that scores points in the paint as opposed to shooting from behind the 3-point line. Cropp said that Hackman, Davis and Monnig all reached 1,000 points this season while combining for 26 3-pointers in their careers. He described them as “the 1980’s Boston Celtics living in a 2017 Golden State Warriors world.”
Davis and Hackman were named CAC co-MVPs and both were named first team All-Conference and first team All-District by the Central Missouri Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association.
Davis was named MBCA All-State for the second straight year.
The Higbee Lady Tigers had a member selected to the KRES All-Star team for the first time in over 30 years.
Higbee head coach Tanner Burton said that the program have improved greatly over the last four years, and Runyon was one of the players who laid the foundation.
“She came in as a freshman and didn’t really have anything to look at,” Burton said. “There was no past success. She was able to lead the foundation and lay it there.”
Burton said the Lady Tigers won 66 games over the last four seasons, which is more than they had won in the decade prior, and was the most Higbee had won in a four-year span since the 1950’s. He said Runyon was a huge part in the change to the culture of girls basketball at Higbee.
Burton also said that Runyon played the final 12 games of this season with a stress fracture in her back.
After graduation, Runyon will go on to play basketball for Hannibal-LaGrange University.
Combs presented All-Star awards to both Gray and Cade Combs, and said that both players were an integral part of the team’s run to the Show-Me Showdown this past season.
Gray was the first player he talked about, saying he averaged 15 points and five assists per game this past season, and described the type of player he was to his teammates.
“He’s such a leader,” Combs said. “A lot of times, you’ll have those quiet guys who don’t say a whole lot. That isn’t Brendan, but he’s not a loud guy either. He’s the kind of guy who picks his spots, waits for the right time and then he’ll let a younger kid know, or let an older kid know.
Combs said that Gray held the team together through an up-and-down 2016-2017 season, and was the teammate who calmed everyone down when times got tough.
Steve Combs talked about Cade’s performance in Harrisburg’s quarterfinal game against Clopton on March 4.
Cade Combs was a driving force in the first half, helping Harrisburg chip away at Clopton’s 14-point lead. He scored a go-ahead basket with 18 seconds left. After Clopton turned the ball over, Combs turned it back over, and Clopton scored with :08 left.
After drawing up a play, Steve Combs said he watch a Gray made a pass to Combs, who snuck behind the Clopton defense and scored the winning basket.
“That was a special feeling for a dad and for a coach, and it was one of the biggest shots in Harrisburg history,” Combs said.
Gray and Combs were selected as first team All-District. Combs was selected Lewis and Clark All-Conference, while Gray was selected All-Conference second team.
Both players were named to the MBCA All-State team, the first selection for each.
Before the event ended, Steve Combs was called to the podium one last time, to accept the award for KRES Coach of the Year.
Combs gave all the credit to his players for their playoff run. The Bulldogs won a share of Lewis and Clark Conference title, with this being their first year in the conference.
Harrisburg lost to Crane in the semifinals, and came from behind to defeat Sacred Heart in the third place game just 24 hours later.
Combs has accepted the position to be the superintendant of the Harrisburg School District and has retired, for now, from coaching basketball.
This was the third time Combs was named the KRES Coach of the Year.

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