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Examiner
  • Jonas claims DiRenna Award

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  • Becca Jonas became the first Truman High School girls basketball player to ever win the James A. DiRenna Award, which is given to the top girls basketball player in the metro area.
    Jonas was honored at the Greater Kansas City Basketball Coaches Association’s awards dinner Thursday night at the College Basketball Experience, which is located adjacent to the Sprint Center in downtown Kansas City.
    Lee’s Summit North coach Tricia Lillygren was named the winner of the Eddie Ryan Coach of the Year Award, which is given to the top girls coach in the metro area. It is the second time Lillygren has won the award.
    Other award winners from Eastern Jackson Country were Lee’s Summit North’s Imani Johnson, who was a nominee for the DiRenna Award; Remy Davenport, Blue Springs South; Paige Bunn, Fort Osage; Abby Hix, Truman; and Jonas, who were all named to the Missouri all-star team, and North’s Jaden Powell, who was named to the Missouri all-academic team.
    Boys honorees were Kevin Puryear, the Blue Springs South junior who was a DiRenna nominee; and seniors Taurin Hughes, Summit Christian Academy; and Monte Harrison, Lee’s Summit West, who made the Missouri all-star team. Only seniors can be Missouri all-stars.
    “This award means a lot to me,” said Jonas, a 6-foot-1 center who averaged 17.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists for the district champion Patriots, who finished 25-2. “Any one of the girls who were nominated could have won this award.
    “I couldn’t have won it without the help of my teammates – who I will never forget – and my coaches and parents. They all mean so much to me.”
    Over the past two seasons, Jonas’ Patriots were 50-3, and coach Steve Cassity said his all-state center was a big reason for that success.
    “There was a lot of talent up for that award,” Cassity said. “But what makes Becca so special is that she does everything well. She is just about impossible to guard down low, she is one of the best passers in the metro area, she can bring the ball the length of the court and she can hit from outside. She is an impossible matchup.”
    Lillygren is the only head coach in the 19-year history of Lee’s Summit North. This year her Broncos were 24-6 and placed second in state. The last time she won the award, her team won its lone state championship in 2002 with DiRenna Award winner Claire Coggins. She has gone to state four times with a first-, second- and two fourth-place finishes.
    “This is a humbling experience,” Lillygren said. “There are so many wonderful and talented coaches in the area. It is such a competitive sport, and I have been lucky to have been a part of it and been surrounded by wonderful people the past 19 years at North.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Jonas is the first from Truman, boy or girl, to win the award. Former William Chrisman standouts Russ Morman (1980) and Mike Goodpaster (1973) and Van Horn standouts Shawn Case (1983) and Jim Whipple (1959) are the only Independence boys to win the DiRenna Award.
    Former St. Mary’s and Oak Grove coach Wayne Van Dine was inducted into the GKCBCA Hall of Fame after posting a 362-243 record in 25 seasons as a varsity coach. He also coached at Liberty and Wyandotte in Kansas City, Kan.
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