G-R’s Boyd, Eilers receive NICL-West first-team honors

REINBECK – The North Iowa Cedar League’s West Division thrives on Highway 175, and it looks to stay that way for the foreseeable future.

Grundy Center junior swingman Jalen Kirkpatrick was named the NICL West’s Outstanding Player and Brent Thoren was voted Coach of the Year in leading the Spartan boys’ basketball team to an unbeaten conference title and eventually the program’s first state tournament appearance since 2003.

Kirkpatrick is one of five juniors named to this season’s all-NICL West Division first team, including two Spartans and two from conference runner-up Gladbrook-Reinbeck.

Kirkpatrick and Tiernan Vokes both received all-conference first-team honors for the second year in a row, while G-R juniors Michael Boyd and Drew Eilers were first-team selections for the first time in their careers.

All four were unanimous selections, the second such honor for Kirkpatrick, who was an all-conference second-teamer as a freshman. He’s Grundy Center’s first conference MVP since Trevor Hook in 2010.

Kirkpatrick, a 6-foot-6 guard/forward, averaged 16.9 points per conference contest to rank second in the NICL West, and his 6.7 rebounds per game were good for fourth in the league. He shot 56.6 percent from the field and a league-leading 45.9 percent from 3-point range.

Vokes, a 6-3 swingman, averaged 9.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. His 4.1 assists per contests rank him third in the West.

Boyd garnered his first all-conference honor of any kind after averaging 14.9 points and 6.5 rebounds in league play. He added 3.9 assists, 1.4 steals and 2.1 blocks per game as well in helping the Rebels return to state for the second year in a row.

Eilers, a second-team pick as a sophomore, earned his promotion to the first team after averaging 13.4 points and a league-leading 9.4 rebounds per game. He shot a conference-high 65.8 percent from the field in NICL West contests.

The Rebels also had a second-team selection – senior point guard Isaac Clark after twice gaining honorable mention. Clark averaged 8.9 points and 4.6 assists in leading the team.

An honorable mention selection also went to G-R sophomore guard Hudson Clark.