Players from Scales Mound, Eastland named first-team all-state by the AP
The leading scorer in the NUIC and the leader of the league’s best team were both named first-team all-state by The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Rockford Lutheran’s Walt Hill, a junior guard, just missed making all-state in Class 2A. He was the 11th highest vote getter and earned honorable mention honors, one spot out of the second team.
Eastland senior Kellen Henze earned the fifth and final spot on the first team with 82 points. He averaged 24.1 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists for Eastland (23-9).
Benjamin Vandigo, a 6-4 senior guard from Scales Mound (35-2), was the third-leading vote getter. Vandigo has been the leading scorer for Scales Mound for three years in a row and has the sixth-smallest school in the state (70.5 two-year enrollment average) in Thursday’s state semifinals.
“It’s a great accomplishment for him, but also a testament to the teammates he has,” Scales Mound coach Erik Kudronowicz said. “All our awards are team awards. It takes great teammates to get them to the level they are. But he is also a tireless worker in the weight room and the gymnasiums that allowed him to have success individually.”
Kudronowicz is also a big admirer of Henze, who led the entire Rockford area in scoring the last two years.
“Kellen is an excellent player,” Kudronowicz said. “We have seen him since he was in sixth grade. He’s always been a tremendous talent. I love the calm in which he plays. He is a tremendous, tremendous NUIC basketball player.”
Vandigo averages 17.9 points and also leads Scales Mound with a 6.9 rebounding average.
Two other Scales Mound players made honorable mention in Class 1A, center Ben Werner and guard Collin Fosler. South Beloit freshman Ross Robertson also made honorable mention. A player must receive two votes from the state-wide media panel to be named honorable mention.
No area Class 3A or 4A players were honored.
"It means a lot, especially this year," Henze said. "I had a lot of challenges. I got hurt a couple of times and there were some things that went against our team. There was also a lot of great talent in 1a this year. It means a lot to be named one of the top five players in the state."
Who will win?:Predicting the IHSA boys basketball state finals
He also now matched his sister, Erin, who was first-team All-State two years ago when she led Eastland to the 1A state girls basketball title.
"I couldn't let her get better than me," Kellen Henze said.
Matt Trowbridge is a Rockford Register Star sports reporter. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @MattTrowbridge. Sign up for the Rockford High School newsletter at rrstar.com.