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Written By Ink Free News / Sports on Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Warsaw’s Jaxson Gould (2) had an excellent sophomore season and headlines our 2020-21 InkFreeNews All-Area boys basketball awards. InkFreeNews photos by Mike Deak

By Mike Deak, Adam Yoder and Nick Goralczyk

WARSAW – A trio of guards and a pair of versatile forwards adorn the final five selections of the 2020-21 InkFreeNews All-Area boys basketball awards.

All with the ability to score in bunches, but also all five are solid defenders and filled with basketball intelligence. Our top five often found themselves hitting game winners, dropping 30-point scorelines and helping their teams to memorable wins this past season. Led by Warsaw’s Jaxson Gould, the Top 5 on our list will also be around as Gould and Cade Brenner of NorthWood are both just sophomores, the other three juniors.

Jaxson Gould, Warsaw

In his first full season as a varsity performer, Gould played like a four-year starter for the Tigers. Just a sophomore, Gould made veteran plays in a pair of wins, hitting a buzzer-beater in overtime to lift the Tigers over Lake Central, 50-49, and then later dropped in the game winner with two seconds left in a 57-56 win at the venerable and historic North Side Gym over host Elkhart. Gould became the go-to option time and again for the Tigers, which won nine of its last 11 games.

For his body of work, to which he is already an All-Northern Lakes Conference and IBCA Honorable Mention All-State performer, Gould is our selection as the 2020-21 IFN Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

Cade Brenner, NorthWood

Cade Brenner, NorthWood

The NorthWood Panthers were a young squad this past season with only one senior. And while there was some experience back from the 2020 sectional title team, it was certainly one of the youngest squads coach Aaron Wolfe has had in his 14 years at the helm. One of those “young ones” was sophomore Cade Brenner, and his 16.3 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game land him on the InkFreeNews All-Area First Team.

For the season, Brenner shot 46 percent from the field overall while canning 55 three-pointers and shooting 75 percent from the free throw line. The super sophomore’s season scoring high was 33 points versus Elkhart Christian in February. That was one of eight times Brenner eclipsed the 20-point mark in a game during the season.

Brenner was the catalyst in the fourth quarter many times over the course of the season for the Panthers, and his ability to come through at the end proved true in the post-season as well. In four games in the IHSAA Class 3-A tournament, Brenner averaged 17.8 PPG, including 27 points in a win versus New Castle in the 3A regional semi-final. He also shot 47 percent from three-point range and 74 percent from the free throw line in that four-game stretch that saw his potential game-winning basket versus 3-A state finalist Leo be waived off in the final seconds of the regional championship.

Brenner, who was First Team All-Northern Lakes Conference and then later an IBCA Underclass All-State Selection, adds another notation to his growing list of achievements.

Coach Wolfe on Brenner: “Cade Brenner had a special season for us. The quality that stands out is he played his best when we needed him the most. Cade is a gifted scorer with the ability to score on three levels combined with good court vision while rebounding his position. We are blessed to have Cade for the next two years.”

Keaton Dukes, Wawasee

Keaton Dukes, Wawasee

The Wawasee Warriors improved throughout this past season, as was evident in their four wins in their last five games under head coach Jon Everingham. The epitome of that improvement and the key cog in the machine was 6’3” junior Keaton Dukes. Dukes averaged 16.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.1 steals per game in 23 games this season and earned his way on to the IFN All-Area First Team.

Dukes led the Warriors in scoring, field goals made (both 2’s and 3’s), free throws, and rebounds for the squad from Syracuse that finished 12-12 who fell to NorthWood by a single point in the sectional semifinal. Combined with last season’s 14-10 record, Wawasee finished .500 or better in two consecutive seasons for the first time since 2011.

The junior would eclipse the 20-point mark eight times on the year and poured in a season-high 34 points versus Westview in February. He snared 10 rebounds twice as well (versus Prairie Heights and in the regular season finale versus Tippecanoe Valley). Over the final eight games of the season, Dukes averaged 21.6 PPG and 6.0 RPG to finish his junior campaign with a bang.

Coach Everingham on Dukes: “Keaton had an outstanding year for the Warriors. Keaton led the team in all major statistical categories in addition to being our best defensive player. Keaton has turned himself into a high-quality high school basketball player through a tremendous work ethic, a great attitude, and meets the high standards we set for our players on and off the floor. We are thrilled that Keaton will be back next season and expect a big year from him next year.”

Ashton Oviedo, Triton

Ashton Oviedo, Triton

Ashton Oviedo has always been a shooter that opposing teams to had to account for. After what area teams witnessed in the 2020-21 season, there’s a whole lot more to add to that scouting report for next year: excellent defender, aggressive to the basket, shares the basketball well, and plays hard all the time. The junior guard for Jason Groves’ Trojans is part of the IFN All-Area First Team and averaged 16.7 points, 2.7 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 2.7 steals per game for the Class 1-A Sectional 50 champions.

Constantly working and constantly improving, Oviedo was the statistical leader in scoring, steals, made field goals, free throw percentage, and the squad’s productivity rating. He’s still that great shooter everyone is concerned about when they play the Trojans as well. Oviedo drilled 67 three pointers on the year at 43.5 percent clip. He saved one his best games for the regional when he scored a season-high 33 points in the 1-A regional semifinal versus Caston when he shot 55 percent from the field and 89 percent from the free throw line.

Oviedo, who was chosen among the First Team selections for All-Hoosier North Athletic Conference, was also an Honorable Mention All-State pick by the IBCA.

Coach Groves on Oviedo: “Ashton is a very hard worker and a great kid! He puts more time into basketball than any other kid that I’ve ever coached. It’s was really nice to see the fruits of his labor this season. He had a remarkable year. He led us in scoring while shooting 43.5 percent from the three-point line. Ashton also makes everyone around him better, which is a trait of a good basketball player. However, what impressed me the most about this season is that he really emerged as one of our best defenders as well. He led us in steals with 68 on the season and would often guard the other team’s best scoring guard and did a fantastic job at that. Ashton is a fun player to coach! This is a well-deserved honor!”

Dawson Perkins, Tippecanoe Valley

Dawson Perkins, Tippecanoe Valley

After an early season ankle injury slowed down Tippecanoe Valley’s Dawson Perkins a little bit in early December, the 6’5” center for Chad Patrick’s squad got healthier and healthier as the season wore on. His stat lines did the same and earned him a spot on the IFN All Area First Team. Perkins averaged 11.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game for the Vikings.

In an era where the three-point shot is becoming increasingly a focus at more and more levels, Perkins did most of his damage on the inside. The junior had a season high 22 points twice. Once versus Oregon-Davis in December and again in a close loss to 1A regional champion Southwood in January. He also snared a season high 19 rebounds against Northfield.

Tippecanoe Valley struggled to an overall record of 7-16 with only had one senior in Chase Miller. Perkins will be a key piece of the puzzle in what could be a very strong off-season that springboards the Vikings into a threat in the Three Rivers Conference and IHSAA 3A Sectional 21 next season.

Coach Patrick on Perkins: “Dawson is a great kid that loves the game of basketball. This is only Dawson’s third full season of playing organized basketball and has improved by leaps and bounds. His offensive game keeps getting better every day. And he effects the game on the defensive end with his size and athletic ability. We look for great things from him his senior year!”

All-IFN Honorable Mentions

Silas Gagnon, Lakeland Christian Academy; Seth Martin, Lakeland Christian Academy; Hunter Rice, Lakeland Christian Academy; Jamarr Jackson, NorthWood; Ben Vincent, NorthWood; Cooper Wiens, NorthWood; Nolan Cumberland, Tippecanoe Valley; John Gardner, Triton; Bruce Johnson, Triton; Cole McKinney, Triton; Ben Bergen, Warsaw; Jackson Dawson, Warsaw; Bishop Walters, Warsaw; Collin Roberson, Wawasee; Kam Salazar, Wawasee; Caden Welty, Wawasee

Posted In: Boy's Sports > Basketball