Pregame warm-ups would find The Herald's 2012-13 All-Area Basketball Players of the Year laser-focused, their heads nodding slightly, gazes intently locked.
But you'd have to listen closely, because you wouldn't hear much. South Pointe junior Anthony Johnson and Northwestern senior Mariah McCoy didn't need to tell opponents what was about to hit them. They would just show them instead.
You don't always have to be boisterous, or be the one that stands out the most, said South Pointe coach Melvin Watson. Those types of kids that just go about their business and understand what it takes to help their team win, those types of kids, you call them winners. They're not gonna jeopardize that for publicity for themselves.
Johnson and McCoy both have impressive statistics this past season, but more importantly led their teams to a combined 43-5 record. For that, Johnson is The Herald's All-Area Boys' Basketball Player of the Year and McCoy is the girls' All-Area Player of the Year.
It feels pretty good to get it, Johnson said, with a shake of his shoulders. I didn't think I'd get it.
McCoy, a senior, said she wasn't surprised due to the amount of work she puts in, proving that quiet doesn't necessarily suggest a lack of confidence.
Both players' coaches were thrilled, and like McCoy, not surprised.
South Pointes Watson said of Johnson: He's one of those guys whose leadership skills are on display on the basketball court. He plays extremely hard, team-first type of guy and never complains. That type of player you love to coach.
And John Bramlett, Northwesterns girls coach, could have been talking about the same person when he described McCoy. She's what I would say is a coaches' dream. She scored 967 points in her career and she's been playing with me since she was a freshman. She should have had well over 1,000, but because she chose to involve other people, you know, passing the ball in situations where we wanted her to shoot, it kind of shows you what kind of character she has, what kind of player she is.
McCoy was an almost behind-the-scenes-type operator, one that did a number of the little things that dont get noticed by the average fan, but invariably make a team better.
I just like to be a facilitator, and play through my teammates, she said.
Johnson, a 6-foot-3 junior, did many of the same things, the main difference being when he led fast breaks for thumping one-handed jams, or exploded for 30-point games. Those dunks came from his athleticism and his length in our press, because his arms are so long, and his anticipation is unbelievable, Watson said. He reads the next pass very well.
Watson said he was most impressed with Johnson in mid-season when, with several key Stallion players sidelined with injuries, the junior led the team , averaging around 25 points per game over a two-week stretch, including a 32-point effort against Rock Hill.
When the injured players returned, He didn't try to force things, he just played within the flow of the game and played with those guys being back, Watson said. That's an indication of maturity. I remember coaching him in JV, real slender guy. You bump him and he would fall on the floor. But to see him mature and be where he is right now, I'm really proud of him.
Johnson and McCoy are second cousins, so maybe some common genetics are at work. Barely above a whisper, Johnson said he gets his stoic demeanor from my momma. She don't really talk a lot; she always quiet.
You don't have to be loud to be seen on the court. Whatever the source, both of these players know that.
Coaches of the Year: Davis, Bramlett
Bramlett is the Girls' Basketball Coach of the Year honors, while Lewisville's Larry Davis earned the top coaching honor for the boys after leading the Lions to their first state title since 1976. Bramlett's team dominated Region 3, spent almost the entire season ranked in the state and advanced to the third round of the playoffs, before losing to Wade Hampton High School.
Davis helped the Lewisville finally break Great Falls' grip on Region 3-A, as well as Class A as a whole. Davis' coaching job was seen his team's performance in the second half of the state title game. They broke open a five-point game with a 26-9 run to claim the title in just Davis' second year at the helm.
Bret McCormick • 329-4032. Twitter: @BretJust1T