In a league filled with exceptional individual talent, Catskill’s Justice Brantley proved to be the brightest star of all.
For his outstanding play, Brantley was named Patroon Conference boys basketball Most Valuable Player for the 2018-19 season by league coaches.
Brantley’s teammate, Devon Haye, was named a first-team All-Star, along with Lavon Fernandez and Dayquan Griffin of Hudson, Nate Mannion of Maple Hill and Jayshawn Williams of Chatham.
Named to the second-team were Keon Armstrong of Chatham, Gil Bell of Coxsackie-Athens, Kolby Clegg of Taconic Hills, Damien Fiducia of Greenville and Louis Laregina of Cairo-Durham.
Chatham’s John Thorsen was named Coach of the Year.
Brantley finished his three-year varsity career in style, helping the Cats earn a share of their seventh league championship in the past nine years and a No. 4 seed in the Section II Class B playoffs.
He averaged 29.1 points per game, which was tops in the Patroon and third in all of Section II. Brantley scored 25 or better 18 times in 22 games and topped the 40-point mark twice, including a season-high 47 in an 89-79 victory over Voorheesville in the first round of the sectionals.
Scoring points was certainly not Brantley’s only strength, though, as he averaged close to a triple-double per game, grabbing 12 rebounds and handing out eight assists per contest.
Brantley finishes up as Catskill third all-time leading scorer with 1,497 points, trailing only John O’Neil (1,597) and Stacy O’Neil (1,499).
“It feels amazing,” Brantley said of earning the MVP honor. “All the hard work paid off. All the haters just motivated me to compete and outwork all the people they put in front of me.
“I would thank my coaches for putting me in the position to succeed, but I couldn’t have done any of that without my big brother Jordan. He taught me everything. He taught me how to outwork everyone. He was my workout partner and my head trainer while being my biggest fan, so Jordan is the biggest reason for any of my success. Also, I would like to say this is Hoponose DNA.”
Now that his high school basketball career is over, Brantley is looking to the future.
“As of right now I don’t know where I’m going and what I’m doing next, but I should figure this out in the next couple of weeks,” Brantley said.
Lavon Fernandez/Hudson: The junior guard/forward came on strong this season to average 27.4 points per game, becoming the first Hudson player in 10 years to reach 40 points in a game, a feat he accomplished twice.
Fernandez hit double figures in scoring in all of Hudson’s 21 games and with 576 points. He scored 30 points or better eight times.
Dayquan Griffin/Hudson: Griffin was one of the top big men in the Patroon this year, scoring 413 points and averaging 21.7 points per game.
The junior center scored 30 points or better four times, with a season-high 33 coming in an 81-79 loss to Chatham. Along with his ability to score points, Griffin was a tower of strength on the boards for Hudson.
Devon Haye/Catskill: The junior forward formed a potent 1-2 punch with Brantley in helping the Cats post an 18-4 overall record this season.
Haye reached double figures in scoring in all but one game this year, with a season-high 35 coming in a 103-81 victory over Cairo-Durham. He finished the season with a total of 448 points and averaged 19.7 per game.
Nate Mannion/Maple Hill: Another of the many quality big men in the Patroon this year, the 6-6 senior was a key reason why Maple Hill was able to secure a share of the league title with Catskill.
Mannion scored a total of 354 points and averaged 16.1 points per contest. He hit double digits in scoring 17 times this season, twice hitting a season-high 27 in wins over Hudson and Coxsackie-Athens.
Jayshawn Williams/Chatham: The only sophomore named to the first-team, Williams quickly established himself as a go-to guy in his first season at Chatham.
Williams, a transfer student from Hudson, averaged 18.2 points per game, scoring a total of 382 points, including two games of 30 or better. He knocked down 24 three-pointers, including six in a 96-58 victory over Greenville.
COACH OF THE YEAR
John Thorsen/Chatham: Among all the fine jobs done by league coaches this year, Thorsen’s body of work clearly stood out as he guided Chatham to its best season in years.
The Panthers finished third in the league standings with an 11-5 record and were 16-6 overall, earning a No. 4 seed in the Section II Class C playoffs where they won a game before falling in the quarterfinals to Mayfield.