Huntsville senior Kriston Minor must have made quite an impression on the basketball coaches in District 18-4A. When the league’s coaches gathered recently to vote on the all-district teams, Minor’s name was written on enough ballots to earn the District 18-4A Most Valuable Player award.
Considering that Huntsville finished fourth in the district standings, that’s impressive.
“The majority of the coaches voting thought Kriston Minor was the best player in the district,” Huntsville head coach Larry Carlson said earlier this week. “I felt this same way. He worked hard during the summer and really spent a lot of time working on his outside shot, and really made an effort to get to the basket this year.
“I think Kriston’s physical maturity and physicality had a lot to do with his success. He is about 6-foot-1 with a 200-pound body. That really helps when you’re being guarded by guys up to 50 to 60 pounds lighter than you. He was able to hold his own against bigger kids.”
Coaches in 18-4A pulled another pleasant surprise on the Hornets. They voted Carlson coach of the year in District 18-4A. Carlson said he was shocked when the votes were counted for coach of the year and an announcement was made.
“This was a very big surprise. I did not expect it,” Carlson said. “I was very humbled by the vote. It’s rare for this kind of award to come from a team that finishes fourth is the district standings.
“I contribute it fully to the man above for the opportunity and the boys on the team who committed to winning. They really busted their tails the second half of district and pulled us out of the grave. We could have easily finished sixth or seventh in district, but they continued to get better and give every last drop of effort they had. That is why I won this award, not because of anything special I did, and it was nice that the other district coaches took notice of the run we made.”
Minor averaged 17.7 points and 8.6 rebounds per game this season. A three-year letterman and a starter for the Hornets the past two seasons, Minor led Huntsville on a late-season push for the playoffs. After starting the District 18-4A season with a 3-6 record, the Hornets ripped off four wins in their final five regular-season games to claim the fourth-place spot in the state playoffs.
Carlson believes the coaches in the district witnessed what Minor did for the Hornets and rewarded the hard-working senior for his contributions to a team that, at a point, appeared to be going nowhere.
“Minor has been one of the most productive young men I have had the pleasure to coach over the years, both in the classroom and on the hardwood,” Carlson said. “He’s the kind of kid that looks people in the eye when he is talking, remains calm and uses manners. I wish we had more like him.
“Losing him will be a big loss for the Hornet program next year. He comes from the same mold as kids like (former Hornets) Justin Ennis and Kyedrick Fuller.”
Willis guard Payne Andrus was voted Offensive MVP in 18-4A.
“The kid is a scoring machine,” Carlson said of Andrus. “He had 36 at Huntsville this year. He’ll be a very tough matchup next year for us. He is just a junior and the son of Willis head coach, Alan Andrus.”
Adrian Motley of district champion Humble was named Defensive MVP in 18-4A. Humble junior Tray Collins earned the newcomer of the year award.
“Motley is a long, rangy kid that was very similar to former Hornet Jordan Sandles, as far as athleticism and build is concerned,” Carlson said. “He is starting to really get some attention from college coaches.”
Huntsville juniors Kaleb Branch and Forrest Reedy were both voted to the All-District 18-4A second team. Hornet sophomore Malik Brown and senior Abram Veasey were honorable mention all-district picks.
“Branch and Reedy were instrumental into getting us into the playoffs,” Carlson said. “For many games this year, we searched for a second scorer behind Kriston to help put points on the board. As the year progressed, both Forrest and Kaleb starting putting up points.
“Forrest had a game-high of 24 points this year at Kingwood Park, and Kaleb had several games where he was just shy of 20 points. Both will return next year and bring valuable experience to the team.”
Carlson said he was glad some of the district’s coaches also took notice of Brown and Veasey, two unheralded players but guys who played critical roles for a team that finished with a bang in 2012.
“Malik and Abram both had solid years and played important roles as we gained momentum toward the playoffs,” Carlson said.