Washington Evening Journal
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All-Union small school boys basketball
New London’s Blaise Porter captains, Tigers Bryant Porter named coach
The small school union area boys’ basketball season lived up to the hype.
The past three years, the Union area has had at least one team that has been ranked inside the top 10 rankings of their perspective class, but none have been able to get over the hump and make the state tournament until this season.
That team this season was the Tigers of New London, who made the state tournament for just the second time in school history.
On this years 2022-23 All-Union small school boys basketball list, it's the Tigers who lead the way with three total selections. That includes two players and the head coach slot.
Winfield-Mt. Union, Hillcrest Academy, Pekin and Van Buren County are also featured on the 2022-23 list.
Unlike last year, this years list is mostly senior dominated, with one exception.
COACH: Bryant Porter, New London
Bryant Porter has coach talented after talented Tiger squads, but 2022-23 was finally the year for New London to reach state.
Porter help New London get back to the state tournament for just the second time in school history. He was at the helm the first time as well.
New London totaled a 19-7 overall record and a 10-4 third-place finish in the Southeast Iowa Super Conference South.
The Tigers eventually had their season ended in the state quarterfinals to state champion Grand View Christian 61-51.
CAPTAIN: Blaise Porter, senior, New London
When it comes to basketball talent, it’s hard to top New London senior Blaise Porter.
Porter was as good as they come in all facets of the game and was integral in helping the Tigers get to the state tournament.
The senior guard scored 25 points per game this season, which led New London and was fourth in Class 1A.
He also finished the year with a team-leading and SEISC South third most 4.6 assists per game, as well as tallying 8.4 rebounds per game, two steals per game and one block per contest.
Kade Benjamin, senior, New London
New London’s Kade Benjamin was one of the top forwards in the area this past season.
The senior did it all, whether it was grabbing boards, swatting shots or throwing down monster dunks.
Benjamin’s presence was felt.
He scored 19.6 points per game in 2022-23, second best behind Porter in the SEISC South. He also pulled down 8.7 rebounds, which were first in the league, and averaged a whopping 3.7 blocks a game to lead the SEISC. He also tallied 2.1 assists and 2.1 steals a game.
Cam Buffington, junior, Winfield-Mt. Union
The lone junior on this years’ list is forward Cam Buffington.
Buffington put together a heck of a junior season with the Wolves, dominating in the paint with physicality, while also stepping out to hit the three ball at times.
He averaged 19.7 points a game, which ranked second in the SEISC North, while pulling down 9.5 boards, tied for first in the league. He also averaged 2.8 assists and 1.5 steals a game.
Buffington will be huge for a Wolves team that returns a large number of players next season.
Grant Bender, senior, Hillcrest Academy
Grant Bender has been one of the top players in the Southeast Iowa Super Conference since he’s been in the league.
This year was much of the same.
As one of Hillcrest Academy’s leaders, Bender averaged 18.4 points a night in his senior season. That was third most in the SEISC North. He also grabbed 6.0 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 1.5 assists.
Luke Long, senior, Pekin
Pekin’s Luke Long elevated his game in 2022-23.
The senior was huge for a Panther squad that came into their own this season.
As one of Pekin’s main presences in the paint, Long averaged 15.8 points a contest, while grabbing 6.1 rebounds. He also tallied 2.5 assists, 1.7 steals and one block.
Jackson Manning, senior, Van Buren County
Jackson Manning has been one of the top players in the area for the past four years.
The senior guard did it all for the Warriors in 2022-23.
He averaged 18.4 points a night, which was fourth most in the SEISC South, to lead the Warriors, 5.8 rebounds, 2.2 steals, 1.7 assists and 1.4 blocks a night for Van Buren County.