Malachi Pearson took an old-school route in his ascension though high school to become a college basketball player.

He played two years of JV and was the leading scorer for Logansport’s JV team for two years before he became the leading scorer for the varsity his final two years.

“When coach Skaggs was here we had a crazy good team with Sam and Will and Tucker and Coxy and Kraud and Goody,” Pearson said. “That senior class was really, really good, so for anybody it’s going to be a tough team to be on and actually get minutes. I didn’t really mind that. I think playing JV honestly helped me a lot more for these last two years just giving me an experience to kind of be that guy in a sense because as a freshman, I was averaging the most on the JV team and I think I grew three inches since my freshman year, so that also helped a lot.

“I figured out that I could get to mid-range pretty well and knock those shots and get to the bucket whenever I really needed to. The JV aspect of it honestly helped me I think a lot with Coach [Jeff] Higgins. He helped me develop a better jump shot too from when I was in middle school. He’s helped me ever since middle school all the way till now my senior year.”

Pearson grew to being a 6-foot-5 guard and might still be growing. He had a big senior season for the Berries, averaging 16.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg and 3.0 apg. He shot 46% from the field, 31% from 3 and 73% from the foul line. And he is the Pharos-Tribune’s Loganland Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

The Berries went 11-12 on the season. They started off 2021 strong with back-to-back wins over Kokomo and a 17-win Western squad.

They knocked off Anderson on a Pearson buzzer-beater in early February that put them at 11-7. But they dropped their final five games. They had close losses to Richmond and Indianapolis Tech. They ran into red-hot teams against Lafayette Jeff and Benton Central. And Kokomo got a revenge win with a 53-48 victory in sectional play.

“Obviously it didn’t end the way we wanted it to,” Pearson said. “But we had that little stretch there where we were playing really well, back-to-back games with Western and Kokomo. I think that’s when we hit our stride and we might have hit it a little too early. But it was a fun season and everybody played their butts off all year.”

Pearson said cold shooting hurt his team down the stretch and that opponents did a better job of limiting the Berries’ offensive rebounds.

But Logan’s defense held opponents to 50.7 ppg on the season.

“Our goal all year was to end with a defensive average of 50, so we pretty much did that and I think it kind of got away from us the last couple games,” Pearson said. “We let Benton Central score 60-something on us, which was pretty upsetting. But after that, we still we held Kokomo to just over 50. It was ‘play defense and the offense will come.’ It obviously did in that stretch that we were playing really well, we were holding teams the in the 40s.”

Pearson credited the job coach Drew Schauss has done in his first two years at Logansport, going from nine wins last year to 11 this year.

“He came in midway through, obviously us seniors now, it was going into our junior year. So it was kind of that year where we knew we had to play it up and it was different not having much experience with one guy which was Evan [Hassett] at the time having experience. But coach Schauss is doing a great job. I really believe if he stays for awhile he’ll really get things rolling up here again with winning games and winning a sectional that hasn’t been won in awhile. But I think he’ll really get there because he does a great job with the younger kids now, he has leagues and camps and he’s trying to develop the younger guys now so they’re ready for when they get up there with him.”

Pearson signed to play at Grace College earlier this week. His sister Olivia also plays basketball there. LHS grad Matt Jennings has one more year of eligibility at Grace but plans to instead graduate and enter the workforce this year.

Pearson has similar plans at Grace to what he did at Logansport, and that’s to earn playing time as he develops his game and gets older.

“I’ve wanted to play college basketball since I was little, whether it was at NAIA, D-III, D-II, D-I, whatever it is. It’s just a really good opportunity and they gave me a really good offer,” he said. “I love the school. Olivia is there already and I’ve been on campus a lot. It just felt like home. I will be redshirting though my first year. They wanted me to just because they’ve got some guys coming back and coach Moore really thinks I can develop in a year or two and then be really good. I’m just ready to get going on that.”

Like his sister, Pearson plans to major in sports management at Grace.

Schauss credited Pearson’s work ethic.

“He turned it around this summer and just worked as hard as anybody in the state on his game, just improved from an offensive and defensive standpoint. He led our team in about every statistical category there was, points per game, rebounds per game he was up there with Carter [Davis], and assists per game. So Malachi playing at the 4A basketball level really proved that he belonged with some of the really good players in the NCC.”

Schauss, who was interviewed prior to Pearson signing with Grace, said Pearson projects as a 2 or 3 at the next level.

“He would benefit from a year getting stronger. But I think overall he shoots the ball well, handles it well, rebounds it well. Any college team would really benefit from a guard that can rebound as well with the height he has at that position. So I think as long as the team knows that it may take a year for him to develop and I think he knows that as well, they’ll get a kid in 2-3 years that’s going to impact a game and impact how your team performs in conference.”

The following are capsules of the rest of the 2021 All-Loganland boys basketball team:

Tyson Johnson, Cass

Johnson, a 6-2 senior point guard, averaged 8.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 4.6 apg and 2.4 spg.

The Kings toughened up their schedule and dealt with interruptions this year, and they went 13-12 as they posted their second straight 13-win season.

Cass coach Kyle Johnson said Tyson did an outstanding job in his role as a defensive stopper.

“I thought he had a great season. He sacrificed I think a great deal stat-wise offensively, rebounds and other areas like that just because he was willing to do whatever it took to guard the best player on the other team, which he did 25 games in a row and he was really successful at it,” he said. “He’s just a great leader. As we continue to get this Cass basketball foundation back to the way I know it to be, he was just a guy that everybody looked to from the young grades to the older grades and he just held himself with such great poise. He was very confident when he played but at the same time that didn’t come out in an arrogant attitude by any means. He was just poised in everything he did, even-keeled, I’m just proud of what he did.”

Tyson of course grew up in the sport and his dad is a defensive-minded, man-to-man defensive coach.

“I don’t want to take much credit for it. I know he found his niche,” coach Johnson said. “He found out young that was something he could do to really help his team. In his four years of high school it made a big difference. He was such a great ball-handler on top of that. It was a great way to start a program because when you have somebody who can handle the ball, you’ve got someone who is willing to defend, I hope that is something that is contagious throughout the program with the young kids and the current guys we still have coming back.”

Tyson led the Hoosier Conference in assists and was second in steals.

“I’m just super proud as a dad coaching his son. He’s just a very coachable guy,” coach Johnson said. “It was neat seeing his leadership and him willing to sacrifice and make the move with me and just building what I think could be a really good Cass basketball tradition, and he’s just a special player in the area and he’ll always be my favorite King.”

Joey Spin, Caston

Spin, a 6-foot point guard, averaged 9.5 ppg and 3 apg and shot 78% from the foul line.

The Comets went 10-16 and repeated as sectional champs.

“Joey just does such a good job of getting us into everything we need to get into,” Caston coach Carl Davis said. “Sometimes as coaches when you don’t have a point guard of his caliber, you spend as much time thinking about how long it takes you to get into a set or how long he’s going to have to have the ball in his hands. But with Joey you really don’t have to worry about that because you know he’s going to be able to take care of it, buy you a few seconds even if you’re a little slow getting into something. So he just does such a good job of facilitating our offense and obviously when we’ve been in a lot of situations where we’re struggling to score, he just kind of takes over and his ability to get to the rim is a special. He just did such a good job for us this year scoring or facilitating and finding guys, getting in the middle and kicking out for wide open looks. He just does a great job of making our offense go.”

Noah Lange, Logansport

Lange, a 5-8 junior guard, averaged 8.7 ppg. He made 47 3-pointers at a 33% clip and shot 70% from the foul line.

“Noah has to work as hard as about anybody in the state to be able to score,” Schauss said. “At 5-8, 5-9, nothing comes easy. And then this conference season, teams guarded him a lot differently than they did last year. They denied him the ball, they made everything difficult, they put some height on him. But you’ll never find anybody that stays in the gym longer than Noah, works to perfect their shot and then also he’s got to work hard defensively because everybody’s going to try to post him up. He’s done a great job in the weight room trying to get stronger. But I think it’s the heart that he shows that really sets him apart from a lot of people.”

Tyson Good, Cass

Good, a 6-6 wing, averaged 12.4 ppg as a sophomore.

“I thought he had an incredible sophomore year,” coach Johnson said. “I’m sure he would like to see his numbers go up as well, but at the same time his upside is incredible. When we got to the sectional he had at least eight assists against Rensselaer and I think it might even have been a double-double for him that night. He’s a great shooter, he’s a great energy guy and he’s committed to basketball. He continues to get stronger, he’s going to continue to play AAU basketball and he’s an all-around guy.

“He’s great baseball player as well. I see a great future for him in basketball. It’s going to be neat to coach a guy for four years and watch him grow. And he just he brings so much to the table. I think he can continue to be a great defender in the area with his height and that he’ll continue to be a great rebounder. With his athleticism, his jumping ability and his shooting ability, we’re just going to keep working on increasing his percentages in every area from 2s to 3s to free throws and he’s going to have to step up and be a junior leader for us next year because we’ll need him.”

Second team

Tristin Miller, Cass

Miller, a 6-foot junior, averaged 12.6 ppg and 5.9 rpg and shot 49% from the field. He was the de facto sixth man of the year in the area.

“I think Tyson Good and Tyson Johnson might have sacrificed a little bit because Tristin Miller comes on the scene and for the most part comes off the bench which I think is a very tough thing for any kid to do, but he’s willing to accept that role he does it as sixth man is our leading scorer as far as points per game,” coach Johnson said. “He didn’t score the most points because he had to sit out a couple games early with an ankle injury, but just a solid player, a guy that’s able to rebound. He led us in rebounding and led us in scoring, that’s big to be able to have that guy come back.

“He’s a guy that I would say could be an undersized post player, is talented in there with also a great mid-range ability. He’s just a great kid, a great person. I’m just hoping for him to continue to be the ultimate team player, be a two-way guy. And I think he had an excellent season. When it came down to late in the game he was very often the guy I depended on to do the take-over time and he did a little bit of that for us in the sectional and several times this year. He scored 27 against Tipton was his high this year. He’s got a lot of potential and he’s got one more year to do a lot. It’s great that he’s got to Tyson Good coming back with him and Luke Chambers, you know some guys that I think will really step into their roles next year as sophomores going into juniors.”

Ezra Lewellen, Pioneer

Lewellen, a 5-7 senior, averaged 9.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.0 apg and 2.0 spg.

The Panthers dealt with heavy losses to graduation from last year’s 17-8 team but still managed to go 9-12 under first-year coach Darren McKaig.

“Ezra was our all-around leader. Whatever we needed, defense, offense, just if we needed a big play at the end of the game, he’s the guy we really looked up to to lead us this year,” McKaig said. “He had some big games where he had 20 points. He was willing to score for us, he was willing to not score for us, whatever was best for the team.”

Russell Compton, Winamac

Compton, a 6-1 junior, averaged 12.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg and 1.7 bpg.

The Warriors went 6-17, which was two less wins than a year ago following the graduation of last year’s Loganland Player of the Year, Will Larkin.

“Russell was our leading scorer. He and Beau Brandt were our leading rebounders,” Winamac coach Alan Huggler said. “Russell had the ball in his hands a lot also. He handled the ball for us and he also had 39 blocks on the season. So he was very versatile player. A lot of times as Russell went, our team went. He was guy we would look to to score some big buckets and he’d also share the basketball. He was unselfish. I think he took a nice step up from his sophomore year. He got stronger, his shot became more consistent. Usually the other teams would put their best defender on him and he had to work harder to get shots this year. But he was a good team leader for us, works hard, good attitude and we look for big things out of him next year.”

Sam Smith, Caston

Smith, a 6-1 junior, averaged 10.3 ppg and 4.8 rpg and shot 50% from the field.

“Sam, you look at the last eight games of the year, I think he averaged close to 14 or 15 points,” Davis said. “He really kicked it into gear and us winning the sectional had a lot to do with his ability to score around the rim and score inside. That’s something that we didn’t have early in the season and I thought things really started to turn around for us when he started to be more aggressive inside. He’s going to give you rebounding consistently no matter what. He just does such a good job especially rebounding offensively giving you extra possessions.

“He’s one of the most consistent players that I’ve ever coached. You know exactly what you’re going to get from him day in and day out and there’s no off switch for him. There’s no slower speed or slower intensity. He’s just a kid with such an incredible motor. Obviously hitting the game-winner in the sectional was special but there were so many more things little things he did in that game that were so big and led to that victory.”

Hunter Klepinger, Pioneer

The 6-4 senior averaged 9.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg and 1 bpg and shot 55% from the field.

“Klepinger really turned into a go-to guy inside,” McKaig said. “We didn’t really know what we’d get out of him because he hadn’t had a lot of varsity experience. But he had good touch. He shot 38% from 3, he shot 60% from 2. As the year went on we just tried to go to him more and more and more. He really became one of our biggest offensive threats, if not our biggest.”

Third team

Carter Davis, Logansport

The 6-5 senior averaged 7.2 ppg and 5.0 rpg.

“Carter is someone I’m really proud of because Carter had an injury. Going into his junior year he showed a lot of promise and then tore his ACL in the 3-on-3 tournament,” Schauss said. “Carter bought into being a guy that’s a low post guy that will score and rebound. I think he averaged about 7.5 points and 5 rebounds for the year. He developed two really good post moves, a drop step and a jump hook. Carter was essential to our success scoring the ball and rebounding as well.”

Kade Zeider, Caston

Zeider, a 5-11 junior, averaged 10.5 ppg. He made 70 3-pointers at a 37% clip and shot 71% from the foul line.

“Kade shot it really well for us this year,” Davis said. “Something that probably gets overlooked is how much he’s progressed defensively the last two years. He went from his freshman year where he kind of went JV/varsity split and every time he came in we’d run something for him offensively, he was just that kind of a shooter even as a freshman. But when you look at his progression defensively, that’s probably the thing that’s the most special to watch for me.

“Offensively there’s no question he can score it and he added to his game this offseason. He’s able to score off the dribble a little bit, obviously hitting the big go-ahead basket against Winamac off the dribble was really neat. But defensively, his length and his ability to anticipate things and kind of sniff things out is really important to us as well. But I think the biggest thing that gets overlooked when you have a shooter of Kade’s caliber is just how much he changes things for the guys he’s on the floor with. There were some games where he didn’t score a lot, but the spacing that he created for our offense just because they had to face-guard him or they had to be really close to him and physical with him, it opens things up for other people.”

Caleb Crook, Logansport

Crook, a 6-2 junior, averaged 5.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg and 2.0 apg. He was also the Berries’ defensive ace.

“Caleb has the toughest assignment of anybody on our team in terms of defensively is we put him on the best player,” Schauss said. “We say, OK, James Blackmon, Brooks Barnhizer, J.R. Konieczny — who was in the semistate scoring 20-some points in the first half. Caleb Crook took that on, he never backed down and I think he’s bought into that mentality. He’s going to be the defensive stopper. But games like Marion he showed where he can really score and we’re hoping to build that confidence in him into his senior year to know that he can score and defend because he’s a talented basketball player. But you don’t get a lot of kids that really buy into that mentality of ‘I want to play defense and I want to be good at it and I want to stop the best player’ because he guarded a ton of Division I players this year and I think he did a great job.”

Beau Brandt, Winamac

Brandt, a 5-11 junior, averaged 8.3 ppg and 5.6 rpg.

“Beau is a player that we can ask him to play anywhere on the court and he’ll accept the challenge,” Huggler said. “He can play inside for us, he can play out on the perimeter and handle the basketball. A lot of times he had to guard guys that were bigger than him. He had to try to go up inside and rebound against taller opponents. But he’s a tough kid. He led us in rebounds and deflections. Also as the season went on he started getting a lot of assists. So he was really sharing the basketball. He understands the game well and I think he’s going to work on his shot and work on his ball-handling a little bit more and I think those will pay off for him. He could be a really tough player to guard next year.”

Garrett Barron, Logansport

The 6-2 senior averaged 6.0 ppg and 4.1 rpg and shot 56% field.

“Garrett Barron is the epitome of just working hard to find success,” Schauss said. “Garrett is the energy guy in both football and basketball and I assume he’s going to be for baseball as well. And he played with passion. I mean, he’s undersized, he played a center position and he was second-team all-conference in the NCC. You don’t find a lot of kids that are willing to just outwork, outgrind people just based out of your love for playing sports and competing like Garrett Barron.”

2021 All-Loganland Boys Basketball

First Team

Tyson Good, Cass

Tyson Johnson, Cass

Noah Lange, Logansport

Malachi Pearson, Logansport

Joey Spin, Caston

Second Team

Russell Compton, Winamac

Hunter Klepinger, Pioneer

Ezra Lewellen, Pioneer

Tristin Miller, Cass

Sam Smith, Caston

Third Team

Garrett Barron, Logansport

Beau Brandt, Winamac

Caleb Crook, Logansport

Carter Davis, Logansport

Kade Zeider, Caston

Honorable mention: Cass — Luke Chambers; Caston — Bryce Rudicel; Logan — Jamien Piercefield; Pioneer — Addai Lewellen, Drew McKaig; Winamac — Trent Fox.

React to this story:

1
0
0
0
0

Trending Video

Recommended for you