EAST ALTON – Darrius Edwards of Alton High and Allie Troeckler of Civic Memorial High gracefully shared the basketball spotlight Wednesday. They were as stylish off the court as they were on it.
Edwards, a senior and Troeckler, a sophomore, garnered the top awards at the 70th annual Alton Exchange Club Players of the Year banquet. Edwards received the Male Player of the Year honor and Troeckler earned the Female Player of the Year prize.
“It feels good and it’s the best award I’ve ever received,” said Edwards, a 6-foot guard bound for Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville. “I played hard this year and I matured more. I did a lot of growing up and took everything seriously.”
He averaged a team-best 13.2 points for the 27-5 Redbirds, champs of their Class 4A regional.
“It’s a nice accomplishment for Darrius because there were some pretty good players in the area,” Alton coach Eric Smith said. “He developed as a leader on the floor.”
Edwards noted, "I'm looking forward to going to SWIC for two years and then on to a four-year school."
Troeckler, a 5-10 guard/forward, averaged 21 points and 8.7 rebounds for the 26-7 Eagles, winners of the Class 3A Jersey Regional. The first-team, IBCA All-Stater scored a school-record 44 points in an early-season win over Taylorville.
“This is definitely the best award I’ve received this year,” Troeckler said. She became the fifth consecutive Eagle to snare the award and the eighth in the last 10 years.
Troeckler added, “I really enjoyed this season because it was more of new team for us. I think I improved my outside shooting and my outside game. I'm really excited about going back into the gym again and getting ready for next season."
CM coach Jonathan Denney said, “Allie’s season speaks volumes. She’s a great scorer, but there’s more to her than just scoring. She’s a complete player. And any time you get the Player of the Year award, it's a great honor."
Dave Elson served as emcee for the crowd of nearly 150, including several former Exchange Club Players of the Year. Special guest Dick Erzen, the first award winner in 1946, said he always enjoys returning to the banquet.
“This is the third or fourth time I’ve been back. I think the last one was 10 years ago,” said Erzen, a Normal resident. He grew up in Bethalto, but attended EA-WR his senior year in 1945-46.
Nearly 150 individuals attended the festivities at Julia’s Banquet Center. Riverbender.com supplied a video montage of the 2014-15 season. Players from Alton, Marquette Catholic, Roxana, CM and East Alton-Wood River were eligible for the Exchange Club honors.
Other players saluted included:
110 percent award: Bryan Hudson of Alton and Katelyn Turbyfill of CM;
Free throw shooting: Blake Marks of EA-WR and LaJarvia Brown of Alton;
Team sportsmanship: Marquette boys and Roxana girls;
Team MVPs: Shandon Boone and Andrea Pace of Marquette; Mike Stimac and Kari Westbrook of EA-WR; Trace Gentry and Maddy Sheraka of Roxana; Jakob Lowrance and Troeckler of CM; Edwards and Brown of Alton.