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Knotek repeat Player of Year

Junior guard Adam Feyereisen (5) set the Wildcat all-time single season assist record this season on his way to receiving honorable mention to the All-Big Rivers Conference team. File photo 1 / 3
Wildcat Zac Johnson (23) is the only freshman named to any of the 2017-18 All-Big Rivers Conference teams. Johnson received honorable mention after averaging 12.1 points per game in his first varsity season. File photo 2 / 3
Wildcat senior Jaxon Knotek (2) was a unanimous selection by the conference coaches as the Big Rivers Conference Boys Basketball Player of the Year for the second straight season. Knotek is the first River Falls player to receive back-to-back Player of the Year honors and finished his career as the third leading scorer in Wildcat history. File photo 3 / 3

Senior Jaxon Knotek earned Big Rivers Conference Player of the Year honors for the second straight season to lead three Wildcats named to 2017-18 All-BRC Boys Basketball teams by the conference coaches last week.

Knotek was a unanimous selection as player of the year to become the first River Falls player ever to receive the honor in back-to-back seasons. He led the league in scoring with an average of 20.4 points per game and finished his career as the third-leading scorer in River Falls history with 1,136 career points. He was also named to the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Division 2 All-State Team. He will attend North Dakota State University on a basketball scholarship in the fall.

"Jaxon has earned the recognition he has received and hopefully has his best basketball in front of him being blessed with the opportunity to continue to play this game competitively," Wildcat head coach Zac Campbell said.

Joining Knotek on the All-BRC First Team were Dalton Banks, Noah Hanson and Jack Kron of Eau Claire North, and Spencer Page and Averie Habas of Rice Lake.

Also earning 2017-18 All-BRC honors were Wildcat freshman Zac Johnson and junior Adam Feyereisen, who both received honorable mention.

Johnson was the top scoring freshman and top three-point shooter in the conference this season, averaging 12.1 points per game while connecting on 48 percent (50-104) of his attempts from long range. His accuracy earned him a spot in the 10-player WBCA Three-Point Challenge on Championship Saturday at the WIAA State Tournament March 17, where he came up short of reaching the semifinals despite connecting on 16-of-30 shots in the opening round.

Feyereisen set a new Wildcat single season assist record with 129 on his way to earning All-BRC honors for the first time.

In addition to Knotek, Campbell said the contributions of the team's other four seniors—Ryan Spafford, Aaron Baillargeon, Nick Simpson and Drew Everson—were vital to the team's second place BRC finish this season.

Campbell said Spafford brought an energy that was contagious to the team.

"Ryan Spafford has an energy about him that a lot of us wish we had," he said. "Ryan has been given some very physical assignments over the past two years and embraces the opportunities. He is enjoyable to be around and brings a smile to your face through conversation."

Campbell said Baillargeon has been everything a coach hopes for in a student-athlete.

"He is extremely detailed about his work," he said. "He is inquisitive in questioning and learning, and he is very dedicated to the work he puts in."

Simpson battled through a number of injuries his senior season but Campbell said he is someone his teammates rallied around.

"Nick has dedicated a lot of time to get to where he is today and the work he has done hasn't gone unnoticed by our staff and his peers," Campbell said.

Everson joined the Wildcats after moving to River Falls in the offseason, and Campbell said he adjusted well despite a big learning curve.

"When you jump programs and philosophies as a senior in high school the language and expectations are always different," the coach noted. "Drew embraced the battle and was an important part running our scout team point guard position on a daily basis."

The Wildcats finished the season with a record of 15-9 overall, 8-4 and tied for second place with Rice Lake in the final BRC standings behind Eau Claire North (10-2).

Bob Burrows

Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.

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