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Prep Hoops: Hoepker, Benson named to AP All-State Second Team

  • Massac County's sophomore Isaac Hosman was named to the Associated Press Class 2A Honorable Mention Team.

    Massac County's sophomore Isaac Hosman was named to the Associated Press Class 2A Honorable Mention Team.

By Spyder Dann
updated: 3/10/2022 9:40 AM

The first round of postseason basketball awards were handed out this week as more than half a dozen players earned Associated Press All-State Team honors.
In Class 1A, three were named to the AP Honorable Mention team, including Steeleville's Jacoby Gross, Wayne City's Taj McKinney and Gavin Woodland of Sesser-Valier.
In Class 2A, Nashville's Saxton Hoepker was named to the Second Team and was joined by teammate Isaac Turner on the Honorable Mention team, as well as, Murphysboro's Calvon Clemons, Massac County's Isaac Hosman and Mt. Carmel's Gage Kennard.
Mt. Vernon's NJ Benton was an AP Second Team member in Class 3A.
Gross led a balanced attack in scoring (11.2 ppg) for a 28-6 Elite Eight Steeleville state qualifier, who also ranked 7th in the final AP state poll. The 6-0 junior guard averaged 2.6 assists, 2.2 steals, shoots 40.7 percent from 3-point range and 75.3 percent from the free-throw line.
McKinney returns to the Honorable Mention Team after making it last year as a junior. The 6-foot guard season averaged 23.3 points, 7 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 3 steals for a 20-12 club beaten in the regional semis. McKinney closes out his career with 1,864 points, which ranks him third all-time in school history.
Woodland averaged a double-double of 16 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists for a 21-9 conference champ & regional finalist. The 6-3 senior guard shot 49 percent from the field, 32 percent from finalist (eliminated by Christopher). Shot 49 percent from the field, 32 percent from 3-point range.
Hoepker averaged 16.2 points and 7 rebounds for a 27-4 Elite Eight supersectional qualifier, that ranked 5th in the final AP state poll. The 6-foot-7 senior small forward is one of two 500-point scorers for a conference champ along with fellow nominee Isaac Turner. Currently, Hoepker has a D-1 offer from McKendree and a JUCO offer from Rend Lake College.
Clemons returns to the honorable mention team for a third time as the 5-foot-7 senior point guard averaged 17 points and 4.2 assists for a 28-3 regional champ receiving votes in the final AP state poll (eliminated by state-ranked Nashville). Clemons shot 62 percent from the field and finished his career with 1,299 points.
Hosman was AP all-State honorable mention last season as a freshman and this season, set the single-game school record with 18 assists in a game against Cairo. Hosman averaged 16.8 points, 7 assists, 3 rebounds, 1.5 assists for a 21-11 regional champ (eliminated by state-ranked Breese Central) and shot 50.2 percent from the field, 39 percent from 3-point range and 80 percent from the free-throw line.
Turner, who will suit up for the McKendree football team, made the honorable mention basketball team after averaging 16.6 points for a 27-4 Nashville ballclub playing in this weekend's state tournament. Turner shot over 40% from 3-point range and over 80% from the free-throw line.
Kennard averaged 19.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists and shot 58% from the field for a 22-10 Mt. Carmel ballclub. The 5-11, junior guard, scored a career-high 33 point in the regional title win over Fairfield and is within 50 points of scoring 1,000.
Benson, who is headed to Missouri State where he'll ball for former Tamms standout Dana Ford, averaged a double-double of 21.9 points and 19.8 rebounds for a 22-10 regional finalist. Benson shot 61.3% from the field, 32.1% from 3-point range and 62.4% from the free-throw line. Benson took home MVP honors as the Centralia Holiday Tourmaent and was All-Tournament at the Metro East Lutheran Tournament and the Salem Invitational.

Spyder Dann covers prep and college sports for the Southern Illinois LOCAL Media Group. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.