Rondae Jefferson may have been upset — perhaps even irate — about not closing out his high school basketball career with a victory in his last game. Final result aside, the kid’s a winner.
His scholastic resumé carries all sorts of sparkling accomplishments, whether fashioned collectively or individually. Jefferson added another honor Wednesday after being named Class AAAA player of the year by a panel of Pennsylvania sports writers.
Chester’s passionate 6-foot-7 catalyst won top player honors for a 2nd straight season after averaging a double-double (15.5 points, 11 rebounds) for the Clippers (28-4). Jefferson also averaged 4.4 assists, 2.8 steals and 2.4 blocked shots per game for Larry Yarbray’s high-powered Clippers, who fell one victory shy of winning their 3rd straight PIAA championship.
Jefferson, who is headed to Arizona for college, played in the McDonald’s All-American Game Wednesday night at Chicago’s United Center. He’ll also be part of the U.S. Junior National Select Team scheduled to compete later this month at the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland, Ore.
Jefferson was joined by another repeat performer, West Middlesex High’s Matt Dogan, who was named to the 1st Team — this year in Class AA, after last year’s single-A berth — for a 2nd straight year.
Dogan distinguished himself as Mercer County’s career scoring leader (2,240), leading the Big Reds to a statewide Final Four berth and a school single-season record 25 wins.
“What makes me feel good about it is all the hard work he put in, from the time he started playing basketball when he was five, six years old,” related Middlesex mentor Chad Mild.
“Back-to-back region championships, back-to-back District 10 championships, and now for him to be first-team all-state for the second straight year, all the hard work does pay off,” Mild added.
A son of Gregg and Lori Dogan who is bound for Gannon University, Dogan doubles as Mild’s nephew. However the Middlesex mentor emphasized,
“Anybody who puts on a Middlesex uniform, I’m proud of, no matter what. But with Matt being my nephew, from a family sense, I’m proud of him,” Mild admitted. “I’m happy for his parents, but I’d be just as happy for any other player. But him being my nephew, sure, there’s a little bit extra sense of pride.”
During Dogan’s 4-year run the Big Reds recorded an aggregate 79-27 record and back-to-back 20-win campaigns. He now will take his game to Gannon, a member of the NCAA Division II Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference’s Western Division.
“I’m looking forward to going to watch him,” Mild mused. “We had talked about that (previously), ‘Hey, we still get to see him play four more years.’ He’s got a very bright future at Gannon, and I know he’ll do whatever he has to do to be successful at Gannon.”
West Middlesex won 21 consective contests during the recently-completed campaign, bracketing its sterling season with half of its 4 losses to eventual commonwealth kingpin Beaver Falls.
“He’s given everything he had, to me, to our community, to the (school’s) basketball program,” Mild summarized. “Aside from winning a state championship, there was nothing he hasn’t accomplished (scholastically). It makes me feel good. This whole season, we knew we had a special group (seniors Jerrod Palmer, Jeremy Jancso, Roman Klaric and Mike Ginther, sophomore post Trey Staunch and junior sharpshooter Christian Porterfield), and we knew Matt was a very special player, beginning back from when he was in junior high.
“We got everything we could out of them, short of winning state. ... But there’s a lot of great memories, things that haven’t been acomplished here in 30-plus years. And a lot of it was done with Matt and this senior year,” Mild concluded.
ä Philadelphia players claimed 2 of the remaining 3 individual awards after Imhotep Charter’s Brandon Austin was named the Class AAA player of the year and Vaux’s Rysheed Jordan landed Class A’s top honor.
The 6-foot-7 Austin pocketed 25 points and 8 rebounds after Imhotep (28-5) captured its third straight state championship with a 54-45 victory over Archbishop Carroll last month at the state final in Hershey. Imhotep, which moved up to Class AAA prior to this school year, also captured Class AA titles in 2011 and 2012. Austin, who will play college basketball at Providence, averaged 17 points per game for a Panthers program that also collared its 3rd straight Philadelphia Public League championship. Austin is the first Philadelphia player to win 3 state titles and 3 Philadelphia Public League championships.
ä Jordan completed a storybook run by leading Roberts Vaux (24-8) -- which is scheduled to close at the end of the current school year — to its first state title. The 6-foot-4 Jordan had 32 point, six rebounds and four assists in the Cougars’ 83-63 victory over Johnsonburg. As a senior, Jordan averaged 24.8 points per game. Jordan has said he’ll announce his college destination on April 15, with Temple, St. John’s and UCLA on his list.
ä Ryan Butt, who piloted Donegal to a 29-3 record and the state semifinals, was named AAA coach of the year. Donegal dropped a 56-54 decision to eventual champion Imhotep Charter in the state semifinals.
ä Gregg Downer, who skippered Lower Merion (30-3) to a 63-49 victory over Chester to win the AAAA championship, was named the sports writers’ coach of the year. Downer also led the Aces to state titles in 1996 and 2006. Bill Shuey, whose Johnsonburg Rams reached their first state championship game, was named Class A coach of the year. Johnsonburg, which won its 1st District 9-A title since 1983, finished 30-3.
ä The Class AA player of the year is Josh Kosin of Dunmore Holy Cross. He averaged 19.6 points and 10-plus rebounds per game in leading the Crusaders (27-6) to their first state championship game appearance. Kosin scored 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the Class AA title game, but Holy Cross tumbled 69-63 to Beaver Falls. The 6-foot-7 Kosin is entertaining offers from colleges at every level, but has yet to choose what school he will attend.
ä Doug Biega, who guided Beaver Falls to its 2nd Class AA championship in his 14 seasons at the helm, was named coach of the year. Biega’s Tigers finished 28-3, closing the 2012-13 season with an 18-game winning streak.