It was a remarkable year for Mineral County boys' basketball as Frankfort has seemingly finished the season with a record of 20-4, and with Keyser seemingly ending the season with a record of 18-7. “Seemingly” is used as the season was halted the literal day that both Frankfort and Keyser were scheduled to play in regional co-finals that could have sent them to the now halted and possibly eventually cancelled state tournament.
By Chapin Jewell
It was a remarkable year for Mineral County boys’ basketball as Frankfort has seemingly finished the season with a record of 20-4, and with Keyser seemingly ending the season with a record of 18-7. “Seemingly” is used as the season was halted the literal day that both Frankfort and Keyser were scheduled to play in regional co-finals that could have sent them to the now halted and possibly eventually cancelled state tournament.
Their last game saw Keyser defeating Frankfort 71-70 in double overtime.
While all-PVC awards have already been doled out and area awards await, on Thursday, the West Virginia Sports Writers Association announced the West Virginia class AA all-state teams, as voted on by the sports writers and coaches. It came as no surprise that Mineral County was well represented on the list with Frankfort and Keyser each earning two slots for a collective total of four.
For their outstanding individual play and contributions to the team, Frankfort senior Jansen Knotts was selected second team all-state, while Frankfort senior David Blanco and Keyser seniors Shawn See and Ryan Shoemaker were selected honorable mention all-state. Unlike the girls’ where there was a mixture of classes, all four Mineral County boys’ all-state honorees are seniors.
In the case of Frankfort’s Blanco and Keyser’s Shoemaker, the all-state basketball honors go along with all-state football honors that were earned back in December. In the case of Frankfort’s Knotts and Keyser’s See, both tremendous football players in their own right, the all-state basketball honors are well deserved after spectacular seasons on the hardwood.
Jansen Knotts was instrumental as a senior leader in leading the Falcons to a 20-4 season, as mentioned, one that may or may not be concluded at this point. Frankfort opened the season going 9-3 through their first 12 games, and concluded the second half of the season by going 11-1 over the final 12 games. At one point, the Frankfort boys won 12 straight games under Knotts’ senior leadership.
Individually, Knotts enjoyed a senior campaign in which he averaged 16 points per game, 8.1 rebounds per game, and four assists per game. In the final game played this season, Knotts exploded for 37 points in the 71-70, double overtime loss to Keyser, putting his whole team on his back. His game was productive both from the outside and inside as needed, a complete, well-rounded player.
Fresh off a successful senior football season as a lineman, David Blanco made an immediate impact on the basketball court, transitioning his game easily from the football field to the hardwood. There are similarities in the way Blanco plays in both the basketball and football arenas, as in both sports, Blanco utilizes his rare combination of a big frame and nimbleness to dominate his competition.
Individually, Blanco averaged 10.9 points and 8 rebounds per game. In addition, Blanco dished out 1.7 well-placed assists per game. Blanco’s stats show that he was a dominant presence inside the paint on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. As an example, in a game this season against Mountain Ridge, the talented big man tallied a jaw-dropping 34 points and 15 rebounds in the victory.
Standing at 6’10” and with a tremendous wing span, Keyser’s Shawn See had a very productive senior season on the gridiron. So productive, that in the middle of basketball season, See committed to play football at West Virginia University. While See committed to play college football, make no mistake about it, See shined as a basketball player and senior leader in helping to lead the Golden Tornado with his dominant presence underneath.
Individually, See averaged a double-double, totaling 13 points and 10 rebounds per game. In addition, further proof that See at times dominated on both offense and defense, the big man also totaled 107 blocked shots on the season. Playing on the road in a game against Grafton, a team Keyser had lost to previously in the season, See had a monstrous 28-point, 18 rebound performance in helping lead his team to victory.
Ryan Shoemaker is the quarterback on the football field, a pitcher on the baseball diamond, and a guard on the basketball court, a leader in every sport. After leading Keyser to a successful 10-2 football campaign, Shoemaker grabbed the leadership reins in basketball and helped his team by, among other things, fearlessly driving to the basket and accumulating foul shot after foul shot opportunity. Shoemaker’s high shooting percentage at the line was a major key to Keyser’s success.
Individually, Shoemaker averaged 14 points and 3 assists per game. Near the end of the season, Shoemaker joined the 1,000 point club at Keyser High School and finished with 1,043 points in total for his career. The last Keyser male basketball player to join the 1,000 point club was Peyton Hartman; Lexi Turner did it on the girls’ side last season. In a win on the road against Grafton, Shoemaker helped Keyser avenge an earlier loss to the Bearcats by scoring 20 points, 16 of which came from the free throw line.
Outside of Mineral County’s four representatives, the all-state roster is jam packed with talented performers from across the Mountain State who put up gigantic numbers and big performances throughout the season. Many would have also made an impact in what normally would have been the state tournament in Charleston, if it hadn’t been halted before it got started.
The first team all-state honorees were led by Captain Obinna Anochili-Killen, a 6’9” center from Chapmanville Regional, a player that’s dominated inside the paint throughout his four-year career. Anochili-Kellen averaged 21 points per game, 12.5 rebounds per game, 7.1 blocked shots per game, and 3.1 assists as he has led his team to a record of 97-10 over the last four years. In that four year span, Chapmanville won back to back state championships his junior and sophomore seasons, and were runners-up his freshman year.
Joining Anochili-Killen on the first-team roster are Braeden Crews of Bluefield, David Early of Logan, Jaelin Johnson of Fairmont Senior, Luke LeRose and Tommy Williams of Shady Spring, Bryson Lucas of Robert C. Byrd, Isaac McKneely of Poca.
The second team all-state honorees were captained by Drew Hatfield of Mingo Central, and included Jansen Knotts of Frankfort, Sean Martin of Bluefield, Khori Miles of Robert C. Byrd, Brayden Miller of Roane County, Gunner Murphy of North Marion, Nick Stalnaker of Bridgeport, and Jadyn Stewart of Bracton County.
The third team all-state honorees include Austin Ball of Man, Gavin Barkley of Berkeley Springs, Jared Cannady of Independence, Jon Hamilton of Scott, Kolton Painter of Nitro, Shad Sauvage of James Monroe, Andrew Shull of Chapmanville and Zach Taylor of Oak Glen.
In addition to the first, second and third team rosters, some 40 individual student athletes were named honorable mention all-state, including of course Frankfort’s David Blanco and Keyser’s Shawn See and Ryan Shoemaker.
Both Frankfort and Keyser enjoyed tremendous boys’ basketball seasons and the two teams dominated the previously released all-PVC honors. With the introduction of the all-state team, both teams enjoyed representation at the highest level of accolades AA basketball players can earn.
Simultaneously, Mineral County boys’ basketball fans can celebrate the successful capping off of the careers of these four fine seniors. As the season may likely not have a chance to be finished, the release of these honors gives fans something to cheer about.