Selecting all-conference teams is no easy task

Nothing causes more griping in high school sports than the selection of all-conference teams. It seems that nobody is totally happy with the results and there is always someone who gets shorted.
Sometimes I think fans don’t understand how difficult choosing an all-conference team can be.
I think the newly announced Middle Border Conference boys basketball team is a perfect example of how competitive places on an all-conference team can be.
In discussions with different MBC coaches before the voting, they were able to rattle off eight or nine worthy candidates for the spots on the all-conference first team. With six spots available, it was clear some awfully good players were going to be left off the first team. With 12 spots on the first and second teams, it was just as clear that some top quality players would end up only earning honorable mention status.
I thought the three most definitive first team players this season were Baldwin-Woodville’s Ryan Benoy, New Richmond’s Dalton Sabby and Prescott’s Billy Brookshaw. The coaches saw things the same way, with all three getting placed on the first team.
Benoy is a prolific scorer who has earned a basketball scholarship to Minnesota State-Moorhead. Sabby led New Richmond to its fifth straight MBC title. Brookshaw is a fireball of energy who makes things happen at both ends of the court.
Also named to the first team were Somerset’s Gaelin Elmore, Durand’s Jake Weber and Ellsworth’s Lemoine Steffen. Again, it would be hard to argue with any of these. Elmore led Somerset to the sectional championship game. Weber had injury issues, but when he’s healthy, he’s explosive as any player in the conference. Steffen emerged this season as the offensive leader that Ellsworth needed to become a contender.
There were other players who were certainly worthy of consideration. The topper on that list has to be Baldwin-Woodville’s Tyler Heitmann. When Benoy went down with a season-ending knee injury, the Blackhawks’ chances of winning a share of the MBC title looked doomed. But with Heitmann leading the way, the Blackhawks won their final four MBC games without Benoy, locking up a share of the conference title.
One of the things that most affects all-conference voting is consistency. Players can be spectacular in several games, but if they completely disappear in other games, they aren’t going to get any votes from those opposing coaches. Amery’s Steven Bielmeier is an example of that. There were games this year where Bielmeier looked like a first team player. Anyone who saw his 23-point performance against Somerset would agree to that. And there aren’t many guards who scored 23 points against Baldwin-Woodville the way he did. But he also had several games where he barely scored. Opposing coaches remember those games as much, if not more, than the big games when they have to make the tough choices in the all-conference votes.

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