Weekly Feature

2017-03-30 / Sports

2017 Boys All-Bee Team

Dom Welch — Cheektowaga Warriors Dom Welch — Cheektowaga Warriors Most Valuable Player

Dom Welch — Cheektowaga Warriors

Dom Welch is the greatest scorer in the history of Section VI boys basketball. But the 2016-17 All-Bee Player of the Year is more than that. He’s a solid defender, a tenacious rebounder, an excellent facilitator and a model teammate. In short, he’s a complete player.

“He’s able to score in so many ways and do so many different things,” Cheektowaga coach Pat Cullinan said. “He’s a complete player. When he develops more physically, he’s going to be tough. He’s an inside and outside guy. He can finish, he can shoot threes, he can block shots, he can rebound, he can pass. There’s always room for improvement, but he’s at such a higher level than the other kids his age.”

North Tonawanda Lumberjacks North Tonawanda Lumberjacks Welch has put up mind-blowing numbers over the course of a five-year varsity career. His 2,376 points are the most in Western New York history, a feat he achieved in the Class A2 playoffs with a 45-point effort against South Park. He finished with exactly 1,200 rebounds, 242 assists, 287 blocks and 166 steals. His speed, smarts, athleticism and 6-foot-6 inch frame allowed him to dominate on the court.

“I’ve had him with me since he was in eighth grade,” Cullinan said. “He’s one of those kids who comes in and is ready to do work every day. He’s a 12-month guy; he plays all year round. He loves hoops. From eighth grade until now, he’s developed so many skills.”

He put up a career-high and school record 51 points against Depew and also had 45 against Maryvale during the regular season. He also had six career 40-point games, nine 30-point games and 20 20-point games.

Williamsville South Billies Williamsville South Billies “Even when he wasn’t scoring, he’d be facilitating, getting rebounds, blocking shots and creating opportunities at both ends,” Cullinan said. “He had certain games where he blew up because he wanted to give us a better chance to win.”

Welch has decided to attend a prep school next year with the obvious potential to play at the Division I college level after that. Regardless of where he goes from here, he’ll always be remembered as one of the greatest basketball players in Section VI history. In Cheektowaga, his legacy is secure.

“As the kids say, he’s the GOAT {Greatest of all Time},” Cullinan said. “As far as Cheektowaga basketball goes, he easily stands on top of that. He helped guide us to our first division title in 54 years. He was a huge part of the 2014 team that won the first sectional title in school history. His legacy is that he was a complete player that helped Cheektowaga make a name for itself. He should take pride in that. He’s got big dreams and high goals now, and he’s not going to stop until he has them. He will always be a Warrior.”

Amherst Tigers Amherst Tigers Trevor Book - FIRST TEAM

North Tonawanda Lumberjacks

Trevor Book was the best player on one of the greatest teams in North Tonawanda basketball history. The Lumberjacks won their first sectional title since 1961 and advanced as far as the Far West Regional. Book played no small part in that effort. He averaged 18.3 points per game (his 440 points were the sixth most in program history). He shot 46 percent from the field and 75 percent from the free-throw line, hit 44 three-pointers (second most in program history), and led the team with 77 steals and 70 deflections. He accumulated 46 assists and grabbed 106 rebounds. Most importantly, he was fully committed to defense.

East Aurora Blue Devils East Aurora Blue Devils “When Trevor came up to varsity, he had been known as a scorer on JV,” North Tonawanda coach Ryan Mountain said. “He found very quickly that no defense, no play on the varsity level. As a sophomore, he worked very hard to improve as a defender. This season, he really just changed his entire mindset. He learned that when our defense gets turnovers, we’re set up for immediate points on offense. Trevor leading the team in steals is not only how he progressed as a defender, but also knowing that translates into easy baskets on the other end.”

Kenmore West Blue Devils Kenmore West Blue Devils Book’s finest moment of the season came in the Class A Overall Final against Amherst at Buffalo State College. He was unstoppable from the start, being a menace on defense and scoring 19 points in the first half. He finished with 25 points while leading the team to victory.

“When you have an exceptional scorer like Trevor, it gives his teammates confidence and belief we are going to be in every game,” Mountain said.

Greg Dolan - FIRST TEAM

Williamsville South Billies

Leading the Williamsville South Billies is nothing new for Greg Dolan. The junior point guard has been the team’s best player since he stepped on the court as a freshman. Last year he led the team to the Class A state semifinals and was named All-Bee Player of the Year. This year, he was asked to step up even further as the team made it as far as the Class A-1 championship game.

Dolan upped his scoring average to 22.9 points per game and added a low-post element to his game. He grabbed 9.3 rebounds per contest, dished out four assists and led the team in steals with 60.

“He scored a little more than in the past,” Williamsville South coach Gabe Michael said. “He was kind of forced to score more because we weren’t as balanced as we have been in the past. He did a little of everything for us.”

Defensively, Dolan often took on the opposing team’s best player, regardless of size, skill and position.

“He’s so versatile,” Michael said. “He can guard the other team’s point guard or a center. He just always takes on the other team’s best player and shuts them down. If we need him to pick up the ball and put the full-court press on, he can do that.”

Dolan was at his best in big games. He had 28 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists and four steals in a win over top large school St. Francis. He also had 24 points, eight rebounds and four assists in a comeback win over University Prep.

His leadership and determination were hugely important to the success of the Billies and will likely continue to be so for one more year.

Marcellus Cooper - FIRST TEAM

Amherst Tigers

Marcellus Cooper was a highlight reel player this season. The Amherst senior racked up an incredible 40 dunks. It was not an uncommon sight for him to turn an opposing team’s mistake into a fast-break jam.

“He’s a play-maker. He gets in the passing lanes, gets steals and breaks away for a highlight reel dunk,” Amherst coach Chris Kensy said. “He deflects every pass that comes near him on defense; he’s got low-post moves. He can do it all.” Cooper stuffed the stat sheet nearly every game this season. He averaged 17.6 points per game, 11 rebounds, 3.64 steals, 3.08 blocks and 2.17 assists, and shot 45.7 percent from the field. He had 16 double-doubles, five 20-point games and two 30-point games. He scored a season-high 37 points, dunked five times, grabbed 13 rebounds, dished out three assists, made three steals and blocked three shots in a win over West Seneca East. He had another stellar game on his senior night against Williamsville East in late January, scoring 34 points on six dunks. He also made seven steals, grabbed three rebounds and dished out two assists. He shot 14-of-17 from the field and generally dominated on both ends of the floor.

Cooper was a key component in getting the Tigers to their sixth consecutive sectional title game and winning their second straight A-2 title. The team made it as far as the Class A Overall Final before falling to North Tonawanda.

“He led by example in practice and in games,” Kensy said. “He played every game like it was his last. He never missed a beat. He encouraged his teammates and never had a down day.”

Nick Montgomery - FIRST TEAM

East Aurora Blue Devils

Nick Montgomery finished his high school basketball career as a leader, a champion and a rebounding machine for the East Aurora Blue Devils.

Montgomery scored 15 points per game and averaged 7.1 rebounds. An impressive 78 of his 164 total boards came on the offensive glass. His motor, consistency and tenacity made him a tough match-up for any opposing big man vying for a rebound.

“It was his job on both ends to be on the glass every possession,” East Aurora coach Chris Koselny said. “He did it with consistency. He was a relentless rebounder, and it showed in games where he would struggle to finish. He’d go for rebounds, get to the line and eventually score anyway. He refused to quit.”

Montgomery was the driving force behind East Aurora’s run to a Class B-1 title this season. The Blue Devils made it as far as the Class B Overall Final before falling to Health Sciences. Aside from pulling down a bevy of rebounds, Montgomery matched up against the opposing teams’ best players and often held them in check. He held Cheektowaga star and Section VI career-points leader Dom Welch to 15 points and Health Sciences’ standout to nine.

“He was the guy who we put on the other team’s best offensive player,” Koselny said. “As a junior and again as a senior, he guarded all the toughest guys. He guarded bigs, point guards and everything in between. You always knew you were going to get a great effort. He always rose to the challenge in big games. Everyone he had to shut down, he did.”

Additionally, Montgomery was a team captain and lived up to the title. He was among the hardest workers every day in practice and dominated timeout huddles during games with advice and encouragement.

Tyler Aquilina - FIRST TEAM

Kenmore West Blue Devils

When the going got tough, Tyler Aquilina stepped up. The Kenmore West senior put forth some of his finest performances in his team’s biggest games this season.

He had 25 points against Niagara Falls and St. Joe’s, 26 over St. Francis, 22 on a stingy North Tonawanda defense, 20 against Grand Island and capped it off with a stellar 32 in a playoff win over Williamsville North.

“When we needed something big, he was our leading scorer,” Kenmore West coach Mike Meetze said. “He showed up big in every big game.”

Aquilina was consistently dominant in all facets of the game during his senior season. He averaged 18 points per game while shooting 54 percent from two-point range and 30 percent from beyond the arc. He led the team in rebounds at 7.5 per game and also averaged two assists and two steals. He finished top 10 in career points in Kenmore West history.

“I think he’s probably improved his all-around game as much or more than anyone I’ve been around,” Meetze said. “He covered the best guy on the other team. No matter who it was, he wanted to guard them. He also ran plays for us; if it were up to him, he’d be the point guard every game.”

Aquilina led the Blue Devils to a Niagara-Frontier League regular-season title. He was named to the All-NFL First Team as the league’s top vote earner. He plans to play basketball in college but is undecided on where.

Dolan photo, and Book and Aquilina file photos by Jake French; Welch file photo by Jason Nadolinski; Montgomery photo by John Normile; Cooper file photo by Nick Loverde. Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com

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