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Times selects All- Area boys' basketball lineup



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March 25, 2009
TRI-CITY AREA- From the opening contest until the last, these athletes made a name for themselves with their court contributions.

Here is a look at who made the 2008-09 edition of The Tri-City Times All-Area boys' basketball team and the numbers they generated en route:

Ben McNally, Almont

McNally managed 356 points over 21 contests, an average of 17.0 points per game, this winter.

That left him first on the Almont squad and out of those who earned a spot on The Tri-City Times All-Area first team lineup.

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Neal Zott, of Almont, chases down a pass as Imlay City’s Alex Maldonado defends earlier this season.

McNally also pulled down 169 rebounds, handed off 52 assists and notched 21 steals.

"He improved each game as the season went along," Almont Coach Alex Maier commented. "Ben averaged close to 19 points a game in league play to lead our conference," he noted.

"He has an incredible knack for finding an opening on offense and finishing plays."

McNally, a 6-2 junior forward, wrapped up his debut season on Almont's varsity as an All-Blue Water Area Conference first team selection.

Chad Butler, Dryden

Butler amassed 296 points in 20 games, an average of 14.8 points per contest, during the 2008-09 campaign.

That placed him first on the Dryden squad and third among those who attained Tri-City Times All-Area first team status this winter.

In addition to those numbers, Butler handed off 72 assists, grabbed 60 rebounds and provided 55 steals.

"Chad has worked very hard on his shot over the past year," Dryden Coach Mike Lowney said. "As you can tell by the numbers he put up his hard work was rewarded," he noted.

"He showed tremendous range from the outside, forcing teams to extend their defense to contain him. That opened the floor up for our other players. The fact that he led our team in scoring, assists and steals shows how important he was to our team. It has been fun to coach him for two years.

Butler, a 5-10 senior guard, finished his second year on Dryden's varsity as an All-North Central Thumb League South Division first team choice.

Neal Zott, Almont

Zott generated 323 points over 21 contests, an average of 15.4 points per game, this winter.

That left him second on the Almont squad and third out of those who earned a spot on The Tri-City Times All-Area first team lineup.

Zott also contributed 141 rebounds, handed off 93 assists and made 51 steals.

"He had a great all-around year for a great student, a great athlete and a great young man," Almont Coach Alex Maier said. "Neal impacted the game more completely than during the 2007-08 season despite not scoring as much," he noted.

"His ability to create for others made us better as the season went on. He had some near triple doubles."

The 6-1 senior, a guard, concluded his second full season on Almont's varsity as an All-Blue Water Area Conference first team pick.

Evan Hazen, Dryden

Hazen provided 242 points in 19 games, an average of 12.7 points per contest, during the 2008-09 campaign.

That placed him second on the Dryden squad and fourth among those who attained Tri-City Times All-Area first team status this winter.

In addition to those numbers, Hazen grabbed 147 rebounds, blocked 52 shots, handed off 40 assists and logged 39 steals.

"He has made great strides from last year," Dryden Coach Mike Lowney said. "Evan is an impressive rebounder and led us in rebounding and blocks this winter," he noted.

"His ability to play inside and step out and make shots from the outside made him a tough cover for opposing big men."

Hazen, a 6-3 junior forward, ended his second year on Dryden's varsity as an All-North Central Thumb League South Division honorable mention selection.

Alex Maldonado,

Imlay City

Maldonado accumulated 228 points over 18 contests, an average of 12.7 points per game, this winter.

That left him first on the Imlay City squad and fifth out of those who earned a spot on the Tri-City Times All-Area first team lineup.

Maldonado also was credited with 58 steals.

The 5-10 guard, a junior, capped his first season on Imlay City's varsity as an All-Blue Water Area Conference first team choice.

Matt Burgess, Capac

Burgess managed 271 points in 22 games, an average of 12.3 points per contest, during the 2008-09 campaign.

That placed him first on the Capac squad and sixth among those who attained Tri-City Times All-Area first team status this winter.

In addition to those numbers, Burgess pulled down 158 rebounds and blocked 81 shots.

"He was a force for us this winter," Capac Coach Bob Shoemaker said. "Whether he was working inside for a basket, hitting a shot from the perimeter or blocking a shot he made his presence felt," he noted.

"Matt was the key to us winning three of the four games we played during the regular season against Richmond and Armada. It will be nice having him back for another season."

Burgess, a 6-5 junior forward, wrapped up his debut season on Capac's varsity as an All-Blue Water Area Conference first team pick.

Darren Saunders,

Imlay City

Saunders wound up with -170 points over 21 contests, an average of 8.0 points per game, this winter.

That left him fourth on Imlay City's squad and seventh out of those who earned a spot on the Tri-City Times All-Area first team lineup.

He also contributed 126 rebounds, made 44 steals and handed off 41 assists.

Saunders, a 6-1 senior forward, finished his second season on Imlay City's varsity as an All-Blue Water Area Conference first team selection.

Second team - Jon Botwin, Capac; Joe Johnson, Capac; Adam Van Dyk, Imlay City; Josh Messner, Capac; and Aaron Thompson, Imlay City.

Honorable mention - Mitchell Parks, Capac; Joe Battisti, Dryden; Matt Lynch, Dryden; and Dillon Melly, Almont.

Coach of the Year - For directing Imlay City to a 14-7 overall mark and a 10-4 Blue Water Area Conference record (good enough for a share of second place with Richmond), Rick Finkbeiner earns Tri-City Times All-Area Coach of the Year recognition.

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