Prairie Central's Dylan Bazzell named to AP all-state first team
FAIRBURY — Senior Dylan Bazzell had a big season in leading his Prairie Central basketball team to a No. 1 ranking in The Associated Press Class 2A poll. His efforts were rewarded Wednesday by being named as a first-team member of the all-state team.
Bazzell was joined on the overall all-state team by Pontiac's Riley Weber, who was named to the honorable mention squad. Missing by one vote was Pontiac's Kerr Bauman.
“That's pretty awesome and pretty exciting for Dylan and his teammates,” said PC head coach Darin Bazzell. “It's a pretty big deal.
“Congratulations to Riley Weber, that's pretty awesome,” Bazzell added. “I'm happy for him.”
Bazzell helped lead the Hawks to a No. 1 ranking for a number of weeks during the season, including in the final poll. He averaged 17 points a game while shooting 49 percent from the floor and 75 percent from the free throw line. He also averaged 6 rebounds a game and 2.4 assists.
Prairie Central finished with a 31-3 mark, tying the program record for wins in a season.
But it was defense where Bazzell excelled. He was considered the best defender on the top-ranked team.
“He played with passion, heart and hustle,” Darin Bazzell said of Dylan. “He's diving on the floor for any loose ball he thinks he can get. He's a focused defender and an unselfish player. He's a well-rounded high school basketball player.”
Helping Bazzell earn first-team honors was a tough schedule and a talented group of teammates.
“Dylan had a great season, a great career,” Darin Bazzell said. “He did a lot of different things for us. None of this is possible without great teammates.”
One of those teammates was junior Tyler Curl, an all-state nominee.
As for who Bazzell squared up against, one needs to look no further than the Illini Prairie Conference. Three members of the AP first team come from the IPC. The top vote-getter was senior Ty Pence of St. Joseph-Ogden with the second-leading vote-getter being Central Catholic junior Cole Certa.
“That says a lot about our conference and the level we're playing at,” Darin Bazzell said.
“I will say this with confidence, I think we have the best 2A conference in the state. It's unbelievable the amount of players that play at such a high level. For three from our conference to be first-team AP is unbelievable.”
Pontiac head coach Matt Kelley agreed.
“That says a lot about our conference,” Kelley said. “We knocked each other out of the postseason.”
Weber was named honorable mention but was among the top 16 in receiving votes.
“I'm very happy for him, it's well deserved,” Kelley said of Weber. “He definitely puts the time and effort and works on his game, he works on it all season long and he doesn't take an offseason. His success is something that's earned.”
Weber helped lead the Indians to a 27-7 record, which set a program record in wins on a season, as well as being ranked as high as sixth before finishing as the eighth-ranked team in 2A.
Weber averaged 18.1 points per game and surpassed the 1,000-point career mark this season. He also averaged 5.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists a game.
“Really, the last six weeks of the season, and once we got to the postseason, defenses were not getting any help off of him,” Kelley said. “He was getting the Ty Pence, Cole Certa treatment where they were up on him, saying they weren't going to let this guy shoot.
“He did such a good job this year with movement without the basketball better and getting tot he rim and getting to the free throw line when teams were taking away his shot.”
Like Bazzell, Weber benefitted from having a strong cast of teammates, including Bauman, who missed being named honorable mention by one vote.
“The pressure he faced, the way he got us into the offense, he just does not back down from anybody,” Kelley said of Bauman. “He does not let people take a play off in practice. He's not just our floor general during games, he's our floor general off the court.”
Henry Brummel was also an all-state nominee for the Indians.
“We had team success and that led to individual success,” Kelley said.
The Class 2A all-state first team consisted of Bazzell, Certa, Pence, Gianni Cobb of Chicago (Perspectives-Leadership) and Grady Thompson of Princeton.
The second team consisted of Jase Whiteman (Rockridge), Caleb Siemer (Teutopolis), Walt Hill Jr. (Rockford Lutheran), Jaheim Savage (Chicago Phillips) and JaKeem Cole (Chicago Perspectives-Leadership.
In Class 1A, Dwight Wyatt Thompson and Alec Thomas of Lexington were named honorable mention.
This article originally appeared on Pontiac Daily Leader: PC's Dylan Bazzell named to AP all-state first team