Michael Wells established himself as a top player throughout the WPIAL this year.
Wells paced the New Castle High boys basketball team in scoring and rebounding. His strong play earned him a spot on the Section 2-4A first-team squad.
A 6-foot-3 sophomore guard/forward, Wells also earned two Player of the Year votes. Central Valley’s Isaiah Warfield won the award with three votes.
“He was such a threat offensively,” Red Hurricane coach Ralph Blundo said of Wells. “I thought his overall play improved as the year went on. We just continued to get better and he was the catalyst for that.
“He improved from his freshman year with his body and maturity; the understanding of the game and the understanding of how to win. He went into his sophomore season as an experienced player because of his playing time.”
Wells scored 529 total points, averaging 20.3 points a game. He was 61 of 102 from the foul line, while draining 53 3-pointers. Wells has 839 career points.
“He shot the ball really well in spurts,” Blundo said. “That was directly related to shot selection.
“If he got a clean look, it was going in. It was fun to watch him grow throughout the course of the year.
Wells snared 191 rebounds (7.3 per game). He handed out 56 assists and made 32 steals.
“He’s versatile,” Blundo said of Wells. “We can exploit mismatches in the post with him.
“We would utilize him on the block, much like when Shawn Anderson was here. Michael has the strength of a senior. He makes you really excited for what the future holds for him.”
New Castle finished third in Section 2 with an 8-4 record. The ‘Canes were 17-9 overall, falling to Belle Vernon in the district semifinals and to Hickory in the first round of the state playoffs.
“Mike really loves to compete,” Blundo said. “He loves big games. His upside is through the roof. I’m just excited to watch him grow and evolve as a player.”
Blundo said Sheldon Cox, a 6-2 junior guard for New Castle, missed a spot on the first team by one point. Coaches in this section conducted their own voting.
Cox was second on the team in scoring at 12.6 points a game.
“He played like a first-team guy,” Blundo said. “I really felt he was one of the top five players in the league.
“Sheldon played big in big games for us this year. With his senior year ahead of him, that’s exciting, he’s got a chance to be really, really good.”
Quaker Valley’s K.C. Johns and teammate Adou Thiero, along with Ryan Heckathorn (Blackhawk) and Warfield (Central Valley) also comprised the all-section first-team squad.
FIRST TEAM: Michael Wells (New Castle), K.C. Johns (Quaker Valley), Ryan Heckathorn (Blackhawk), Isaiah Warfield (Central Valley), Adou Thiero (Quaker Valley).
SECOND TEAM: Sheldon Cox (New Castle), Beckett Connelly (Beaver), Isiah Thomas (Ambridge), James Damo (Blackhawk), Marco Borello (Blackhawk).
THIRD TEAM: Liam Buck (Ambridge), Markus Frank (Quaker Valley), Isiah Boice (New Castle), Justin Thompson (Central Valley), Tyler Fedisin (Blackhawk).
HONORABLE MENTION: Brandon Graham (Central Valley), Enire Bowens (Ambridge), Jon Weir (Quaker Valley), Devozbre Steals (Ambridge), Couper Stala (Hopewell), Jayven Thompson (Central Valley), Michael Graham (New Castle), Jack Gardinier (Quaker Valley), Jacob McGovern (Hopewell), David Kolodziej (Blackhawk).
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Isaiah Warfield (three votes), Michael Wells (two votes), Adou Thiero (one vote), K.C. Johns (one vote)
COACH OF THE YEAR: Brooks Roorback (Blackhawk).