E-TC’s Witt named to All-State team

Jason Juno/Daily Globe (Ironwood) Ewen-Trout Creek’s Jake Witt shoots against Rapid River on March 20 at Lakeview Memorial Gymnasium in Negaunee.

Powers North Central has been the king of the Class D boys basketball in Michigan for the past few years and one of the biggest reasons for the Jets’ success has been two-sport sensation Jason Whitens.

The senior, described as a “point forward” by his coach, Adam Mercier, averaged 23.2 points, 10.3 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 3.1 steals per game for the unbeaten Jets, who are looking to win a third straight state title.

“Over the past four years he’s just evolved as a player,” Mercier said. “This year he’s been the complete package. He’s gotten bigger, stronger, faster. And he always focuses on the team’s success rather than individual accolades. That to me is his best attribute.”

Whitens, a two-time football and basketball state champion, was voted co-Player of the Year by The Associated Press, along with Southfield Christian’s Bryce Washington, who is looking to lead his Eagles back to the top of the Class. The junior, who already has Division I college offers from Central Michigan, Oakland, Buffalo and Harvard, averaged 20 points, seven rebounds and two steals per game against a stacked regular season schedule that included five Class A schools and Class B power River Rouge.

“He is really an explosive player offensively and he gets on the offensive glass as well,” Southfield Christian head coach Josh Baker said. “He has also started guarding the other team’s best player and he has had some great games where he has shut down top scorers. He is so important to our team because of the energy he plays with and the fact that he puts so much pressure on the defense because he runs the floor so hard.”

Whitens and Washington are one win each away from a trip to the Breslin Center and a chance to play one another in the Class D semifinals.

Joining Whitens and Washington on the all-state first team are their teammates, Powers North Central senior Dawson Bilski and Southfield Christian senior Brock Washington. Bilski averaged 21 points and seven rebounds per game, while Brock Washington averaged 13 points and scored 20-plus against a handful of Class A and B teams.

Also on the first team are Denver Cade of Buckley, Derrick Edington of Pickford, Matt Havey of Lansing Christian, Dylan Jergens of Howardsville Christian, Gabe Meriwether of Bellaire and Jake Witt of Ewen-Trout Creek.

Cade averaged 21 points and seven rebounds and Meriwether scored 23.5 points per game. Both were unanimous selections along with the co-Players of the Year.

Edington averaged 24.4 points and pulled down 14.7 rebounds a game. Havey averaged 18.4 points and surpassed 1,300 career points this season. Jergens poured in 27 points per game and Witt had 24.2 points, 17 rebounds and 5.1 blocks per night.

Mercier was named Class D Coach of the Year. Heading into Tuesday’s quarterfinal game against Hillman, his team was riding a nation-best 80-game winning streak.

The 2016-17 AP All-State Basketball Team is selected by Michigan sportswriters and broadcasters.