Leading their respective teams to program-best finishes, a trio of the Kaysinger Conference’s sharpest shooters, fiercest defenders and most promising hoopsters earned all-state recognition.
Tipton senior Abby Backes, Tipton freshman Myra Claas and Green Ridge senior Alex Rebikh each claimed All-State honors Wednesday from the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association, with Backes earning Class 2 Girls Player of the Year.
Backes and the Lady Cardinals advanced to the championship game of the Class 2 Show-Me Showdown, overcoming an elusive quarterfinals benchmark reached two times prior.
Committed to Columbia College, Backes averaged 23 points, 5.7 rebounds, four assists and three steals per game en route to a Kaysinger Conference Tournament title, a regular-season conference title and an overall record of 26-6.
Backes’ hard-nosed style earned her the nickname “Bruiser” as she shot 40% from beyond the arc and collected more than 2,500 career points, graduating as the program’s leading scorer.
Joining classmate Alexa Jurgensmeyer as academic all-state, Backes’ four-year contributions helped her become a sterling representative for Tipton’s community, a role she said was accepted during her first season.
“It’s something that just kind of came to me,” Backes said after winning the Class 2 District 7 Tournament in Smithton. “I started playing right away as a freshman, and that was a big responsibility. … I think it’s more about just building the program up rather just than my current team. We’re trying to keep this going the next couple years.”
It is the second all-state selection for Backes, who joined Brooklynn Pace on last season’s list.
Claas averaged 15.3 points per game with a pair of assists and steals each. She landed three shots from 3-point range and shot 7-for-9 from the field in the first half of a 23-point performance in the Class 1 title game and finished with 536 total points, surpassing the freshman-season pace of her all-state teammate.
Upon winning the Kaysinger Conference Tournament, Claas said working hard in practice will help the Lady Cardinals uphold their reputation among the conference and the state — a line co-signed by Backes and Lady Cardinals head coach Jason Culpepper.
“We just put a lot in at practice,” Claas said. “So when the seniors graduate, we can keep our winning streaks and things like that.”
Rebikh posted per-game averages of 20.7 points, nine rebounds and 2.7 steals en route to his first all-state selection. Usually the fastest player on the court, Rebikh scored 39 points to help Green Ridge secure its first-ever Class 1 quarterfinals berth.
A track and field state qualifier in sprints and jumps, Rebikh said maturing emotionally was just as important as improving touch around the basket.
His progress was on display in the final moments of the sectional win. As teammates fouled out around him, Rebikh served as point guard and iced the contest at the free-throw line.
“My first three years, I was a hot head,” Rebikh said. “My senior year I thought I’ve got to cool down. Because I don’t want a target on my back. … I’m not trying to get technicals and miss out on games with my teammates.”
Green Ridge finished the season 19-10, concluding the season with a loss to Golden City at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar.
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2.