Kuhn heads All-GNC team; Brown is Coach of the Year
As expected after a perfect 12-0 run through league play, the 2019-20 All-Great Northern Conference boys basketball team has plenty of representation from the Medford Raiders.
At the top of the list are junior guard Peyton Kuhn, who was named the conference’s Player of the Year and Ryan Brown, who received his second GNC Coach of the Year award after guiding the Raiders to their outstanding 19-5 season.
Kuhn joined seniors Luke Spink of Mosinee and Ryan Peterson of Northland Pines as unanimous picks for this year’s squad. All three are two-time first-team selections. Spink was the 2018-19 Player of the Year.
Medford senior Justin Sullivan and Antigo senior Tanner Resch round out the first team. Raider seniors Doug Way and Onyi Ekwueme made the honorable mention list as did freshman Logan Baumgartner. Sullivan and Way also were honorable mentionees a year ago.
The selection of Kuhn as this year’s top player in the conference follows a season where he ranked second in scoring during the conference season at 19.3 points per game, fourth in steals at 2.4 per game and fifth in 3-pointers at 2.3 per game in 12 league contests. He was a 52.1% shooter from the field in those games (85 of 163), including 36.5% from 3-point range (27 of 74) and he was a 64.2% shooter from the free throw line (34 of 53) in GNC play. He averaged 2.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists as well.
Overall, the 6-footer averaged 18.4 points per game in 24 contests, 2.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 2.4 steals while shooting 47.3% from the field and 33.3% from 3-point range. He hit double figures in scoring in every game but two with a high of 31 points in Medford’s season-opening 81-70 non-conference loss to D.C. Everest.
GNC games that helped him earn the prestigious honor included a 25-point game in a 68-53 win at defending champion Mosinee on Jan. 10 that put the Raiders in prime position to win this year’s title, a 26-point, five-steal performance in Medford’s 88-44 blowout win over Antigo on Jan. 24, a 28-point effort where he was 10 of 18 from the field, including five of 11 from long range in a 62-53 win at Lakeland Jan. 28 and a 20-point game in an 84-48 win at Tomahawk Jan. 31 where he had four steals and made eight of 12 shots from the field including all three of his 3-point attempts.
Kuhn had 16 points, three steals and two assists in Medford’s championshipclinching 67-49 win over Mosinee on Feb. 14 and 23 points and four steals while hitting nine of 12 shots and four of six 3s in a 72-47 win over Lakeland to end the regular season Feb. 27.
The three-year letter winner had 28 points, five rebounds, five assists and five steals in perhaps his finest all-around outing in a Dec. 19 non-conference win at Wausau East and finished with a 25-point night in Medford’s season-ending 66-56 loss at New Richmond in a March 6 WIAA Division 2 regional semifinal.
Sullivan, a 5-8 guard, finished as Medford’s second-leading scorer. He was ninth in the GNC rankings at 12.9 points per game and averaged 11.4 points overall in 23 games. He played in 11 GNC games. An athletic player with quickness and impressive leaping ability, Sullivan averaged 3.2 rebounds per game in league play, 2.5 assists and just over one steal. He blocked five shots in GNC games. He also shot the ball well, hitting 52.4% of his field goal attempts in league play (54 of 103) and 65.1% of his free throws (28 of 43).
His best game came Jan. 3 against visiting Northland Pines when he hit 12 of 14 shots from the field and scored 27 points while adding seven rebounds, three steals and an assist in a 77-53 win. He hit seven of nine shots and six of seven free throws in the team’s 61-48 win over Rhinelander on Feb. 7. Sullivan scored 17 points and had seven assists in another noteworthy outing against Mosinee on Feb. 14. He hit double digits in eight of Medford’s first 10 teams, including 19 points in the loss to D.C. Everest and 18 in a 66-62 double-overtime win at Marathon Dec. 10. His game-winning three-point play with 5.9 seconds left finished a 63-60 non-conference win over Menomonie on Jan. 7.
As for the other three first-team selections, Peterson led the GNC in scoring at 23.1 points per game, Spink was the assists leader at 6.4 per game and Resch led in rebounding at 10.1 per game.
From the honorable mention list, Way didn’t gain attention for his scoring, but the 6-2 forward was a valuable rebounder, screener and defender in his third varsity season. He averaged 4.3 points and 4.0 rebounds per game in GNC play. Overall the numbers were similar at 4.0 points and 3.7 rebounds and he was actually the leader among Medford’s regulars in field goal percentage at 53.1% as he made 43 of 81 attempts.
Way had season highs of eight points in GNC wins over Rhinelander on Dec. 17, Antigo on Jan. 24 and Northland Pines on Feb. 11. He was four for five from the field in the Rhinelander and Pines games and had seven rebounds in the Antigo game. He had six points and six rebounds in the Jan. 10 win at Mosinee and six points, six rebounds and two steals in the Jan. 31 win at Tomahawk. He had six points on three-of-three shooting and six rebounds in a 58-37 non-conference win over Rice Lake on Jan. 14.
Ekwueme was another player whose contributions go far beyond the scoring column. The 5-11 senior was one of Medford’s primary ball handlers and often filled the high post position in the team’s zone offense. He also was one of the team’s top defenders. He ranked fifth in the GNC by averaging 3.1 assists per game in 12 league games. He pulled down just under three rebounds per game and nabbed 1.3 steals per game against GNC rivals. Overall, he finished at 2.7 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 23 games played and 1.4 steals. He was second among the team’s regulars by making 80% of his free throws (24 of 30).
He was a key figure in Medford’s Jan. 10 win at Mosinee with seven points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals. He had a season-high eight points, along with six assists, three steals and two rebounds while making all three of his shots from the field, including a 3-pointer in the Jan. 31 win at Tomahawk.
Baumgartner, who stands at 6-2, showed he’s a player to watch in upcoming seasons with an impressive first season with the varsity. He averaged 9.6 points per GNC game and overall and became the team’s second-leading 3-pointer shooter behind Kuhn, making 19 of 40 in GNC play (47.5%) and 40 of 88 overall (45.5%) and was its top overall free throw shooter at 82% (41 of 50).
He burst onto the scene with 15 points and six rebounds in the team’s GNC opener at Antigo and followed that up in the next game, the double-overtime win at Marathon with 20 points on six-of-11 shooting, including four of eight on 3s. He had 12 rebounds in that game and four assists.
In some notable GNC outings, he had 10 points, seven rebounds and three assists at Rhinelander; 15 points in the home win over Antigo; 16 points and four rebounds in the victory at Tomahawk and nine points, five assists, four rebounds and five blocked shots in the regular-season finale with Lakeland. He had 18 points in the team’s 59-51 loss against a very good Chippewa Falls team on Feb. 20.
Brown’s Coach of the Year award adds to the one he earned in the 2016-17 when Medford won its first GNC championship. This year’s team led the conference in scoring offense (69.8 points per game) and scoring defense (48.8 points per game) and third in rebounding (29.8 per game).
Brown is scheduled to join Lakeland’s Rich Fortier and Brian Maki on the coaching staff for the Division 2 White team in the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association All-Star Games, currently scheduled for June 20 in Wisconsin Dells.
While the team loses a big crew of seniors, the team could return enough experienced talent, led by Kuhn and Baumgartner, to be a factor in the conference race again next winter.