Trumbull County has every right to be proud.
One might say it was a down year for basketball, both on the boys and girls side. However, our Northeast All-Inland District voting, which I proudly was a part of, says otherwise.
Your teams are well represented in the area, starting with Lakeview's Alli Pavlik and LaBrae's Peyton Aldridge - arguably the best two basketball players in the county.
Pavlik, the Division II girls District Player of the Year, has been a tireless worker for the Bulldogs all season. Her stats are brilliant with 26.2 points per game. At 5 feet, 7 inches, she's not afraid to drive the lane.
Must have something to do with her soccer mentality.
The Lakeview senior, unfortunately, isn't playing basketball next season. Instead, she's taking her talents to Columbus and playing soccer for Old Dominican. Those playing basketball on the next level can breathe a sigh of relief that this perennial scorer isn't coming to your league any time soon.
Then, there's Aldridge - the three-time Division III District Player of the Year. Aldridge averaged 21.4 points, 14.4 rebounds, 4.6 assists and four blocks per game.
The 6-foot-8 senior is listed as a guard, but he can play anywhere from point guard to center in a high school arena. That's why he's playing at Davidson College next year, a staple in the NCAA Tournament and former team of Golden State Warriors player Stephen Curry.
Aldridge is more of a European-style player. He can shoot the 3 quite effortlessly. His dribble drive baffles most guards in this area. And, he has a textbook post move that utilizes every bit of his 6-8 frame, boxing out his opponents.
He's probably one of the best players I've seen play in this area, granted I've only been around Warren since 1998, so anything prior is out of play in my eyes. In yours, that's your opinion.
Mario Manningham, Desmar Jackson and Damian Eargle were a couple of my favorite to watch throughout the years. I still believe Manningham could've played in the Big Ten or the old Big East, if he chose that over football. Considering he's in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers, I think he made the right choice.
Aldridge can be considered with those greats. We in Trumbull County were privileged to see such a great talent in this area. Honestly, those kind of players don't come around all that often.
Then, the feel-good story of the year was Lordstown basketball. Yes, they went 13-9 and got bounced in the first round of the postseason, but the Red Devils program had more futility than the current Browns, which is hard for most Cleveland sports fans to fathom.
Lordstown split the Northeastern Athletic Conference, Stripes Division with Bristol. It was the first conference title since the mid-1970s.
After spending the previous six seasons at Aurora and Berkshire, first-year mentor Brian Force took this year to build a youth program in Lordstown, along with guiding the high school squad to its most successful season in years.
Every time a coach is hired somewhere, one of the first things out of their mouths is building a youth program. Force implemented that prior to getting the Red Devils position this season.
Lordstown was led by a group of talented seniors, but the challenge comes next year.
Force said he doesn't want this program to go the way of a one-hit wonder. For the sake of that program, I hope he's right. The Lordstown community deserves a winner.
Then, a couple of our boys teams made it to the district finals - Maplewood and McDonald, obviously not against each other.
Too bad the two don't play one another because a cross country meet might break out - turning the 94-foot court into plenty of laps of an indoor 3.1-mile course.
It's been a fun year of Trumbull County basketball and your players were well represented on this year's district teams.