McNary's Nate Meithof was named the MVC Co-Player of the Year (file).
After finishing third in the Mountain Valley Conference standings, the McNary boys basketball team had four players receive all-league recognition.
However, it was McNary junior shooting guard Nate Meithof that received the league’s highest honor.
Meithof was named the MVC co-player of the year after averaging over 23 points and 9 rebounds per game — both of which were the fourth best marks in the state.
Despite being doubled, and even tripled teamed in most games, Meithof found a way to produce on a nightly basis and even had five consecutive games of over 30 points.
Meithof also increased his scoring average by more than six points per game from the previous season.
According to McNary head coach Ryan Kirch, Meithof has a chance to become the school’s all-time leading scorer next season.
“Nate had one of the best seasons ever for a McNary basketball player. He wants to be great. Oftentimes I have to tell him to take time off. A lot of guys say they want to be great, but not many put in the time necessary to achieve it. Nate does. He is fearless and wants the ball in his hands when the game is on the line,” Kirch said.
“In a stretch of six wins in a row by one point or overtime, Nate always made a play in the final minute to help us secure a victory. That is big time. I’m proud of his growth as a player and more importantly as a person. We know he will continue to work this off-season, and will again be considered as one of the best players in the state next season.”
In his nine seasons as the McNary head coach, Kirch had never started a freshman on the varsity team until this season. Freshman point guard Jando Gonzalez started the majority of the year for the Celtics and was given an honorable mention nod.
Gonzalez averaged 7 ppg and shot 35 percent from the three-point land while running the show for one of the best offenses in the conference.
“I asked quite a bit of him, trying to run and control an offense and typically guard the other team’s best guard. I thought he had an incredible year. He is tough, competes hard and never has any excuses. He played through a difficult injury for much of the league season without ever complaining. He shot the ball well from three and was able to get into the paint on multiple occasions. With continued strength and experience, he will only get better,” Kirch said.
Senior Riley Flores was the only McNary upperclassmen to receive all-league recognition as an honorable mention. Flores was a reliable three-point specialist for the Celtics, shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc. But what perhaps was more impactful was Flores’s leadership on a team with seven sophomores and a freshman.
“Riley really matured as a senior and that maturity really showed within our program. He was incredibly positive and accepting of many underclassman that were on the roster this year. He had a strong influence on how many of them grew throughout the season, helping to lead to much of our success,” Kirch said.
Sophomore Zane Aicher was also an honorable mention selection.
As a 5-foot-10 post, Aicher had to deal with a size disadvantage in every game. But he was still able to solidify himself as McNary’s most reliable interior defender and one of the team’s top rebounders.
“For a guy who has only been playing basketball for three years, it's an incredible accomplishment to be mentioned by other coaches. Competitiveness and toughness are our first two program values, and nobody represents that more than Zane. He was mentioned as the player that his teammates would most like to play with. He leads by example every day, and we're excited to work with him in the offseason to help with his skill development.” Kirch said.
Kirch was also named the MVC Coach of the Year.