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Montana’s Anthony Johnson, left, has been named a mid-major All-American by collegeinsider.com. Photo by MICHAEL GALLACHER/Missoulian

Montana senior Anthony Johnson was a unanimous pick to the All-Big Sky Conference men's basketball team for the second straight season, the league office announced Wednesday.

Johnson, a 6-foot-2 guard from Tacoma, Wash., was the league's top newcomer last season, when he was also the runner-up as the league MVP. Johnson won the league scoring title last season and finished fourth in the league in scoring this year, averaging 18.8 points a game heading into the Grizzlies' league tournament quarterfinal against Northern Arizona on Saturday in Missoula.

"It's nice for him to get that recognition," Montana coach Wayne Tinkle said. "It's pretty clear that he's been one of the top guards the last couple of years. It's a good way for him to cap off his senior year."

"It's kind of bittersweet, but it's cool," Johnson said of the honor. "But again, I just care about the collective goal and the goal is to win the Big Sky tournament."

Montana senior Ryan Staudacher and freshman Will Cherry earned honorable mention in the vote by the league's coaches.

Staudacher, a 6-4 guard from Kirkland, Wash., led the league in 3-point accuracy at 45.3 percent, barely edging Johnson, who shot 45.2 percent from long range. Staudacher is averaging 8.7 ppg heading into the postseason.

Cherry, a 6-1 guard from Oakland, Calif., finished second in the league in steals at 2.0 a game during league play. He's averaging 8.4 points a game.

"He's paid his dues and done so much for this program and done a lot of things that maybe have gone unrecognized," Tinkle said of Straudacher. "And it's exciting for an incoming guy like (Cherry). Him making honorable mention ... says a lot for the year Will had and makes us excited about our future with him."

Sophomore Damian Lillard, who led Weber State to its second straight regular-season title, was named the league's MVP, the second straight year a Wildcat received that honor. Kellen McCoy won last year's award.

"When they came here to Missoula, our coaches went down to the locker room real early and he was dripping with sweat," Tinkle said of Lillard. "As they walked up the tunnel the rest of the team was just getting off the bus. He came over at least a half an hour ahead of the rest of the guys to work out. When you have guys of his caliber doing those types of things, it's no surprise his team is in the position it's in."

The other individual awards went to Weber State junior Franklin Session as the league's top newcomer, Eastern Washington's Glen Dean as the top freshman, and Northern Colorado senior Yahosh Bonner as the top defender.

Lillard, Northern Arizona's Cameron Jones, a junior, and Northern Colorado's Will Figures, a senior, joined Johnson as unanimous picks to the first team. All four are guards. Rounding out the first team were Montana State forward Bobby Howard, a junior, and Portland State senior center Jamie Jones. Johnson and Lillard were the only repeat selections.

Lillard won the league scoring title at 19.9 points a game. Jones was second at 19.3 ppg and Portland State's Dominic Waters was third at 18.9 pg. Waters was named to the second team.

Other members of the second team were Idaho State senior guard Amorrow Morgan, Weber State senior center Steve Panos and teammate Session, and Northern Colorado junior guard Devon Beitzel.

Portland State travels to Montana State on Saturday in the league's other quarterfinal game. Weber State and second place Northern Colorado earned byes into the semifinals, which will be played next Tuesday in Ogden, Utah.

First team

*Will Figures, Northern Colorado, G, 5-9, Sr., Centennial, Colo.; Bobby Howard, Montana State, F, 6-7, Jr., Great Falls; *#Anthony Johnson, Montana, G, 6-3, Sr., Tacoma, Wash.; *Cameron Jones, Northern Arizona, G, 6-4, Jr., Los Angeles; Jamie Jones, Portland State, F, 6-7, Sr., El Segundo, Calif.; *#Damian Lillard, Weber State, G, 6-2, So., Oakland, Calif.

*Unanimous selections

#repeat Selections

Second team

Devon Beitzel, Northern Colorado, G, 6-1, Jr., Lafayette, Colo.; Amorrow Morgan, Idaho State, G, 6-5, Sr., Memphis, Tenn.; Steve Panos, Weber State, C, 6-8, Sr., Salt Lake City, Utah; Franklin Session, Weber State, F/G, 6-2, Jr., Los Angeles; Dominic Waters, Portland State, G, 6-1, Sr., Portland, Ore.

Honorable mention

Will Cherry, Montana, G, 6-1, Fr., West Oakland, Calif.; Glen Dean, Eastern Washington, G, 5-10, Fr., Seattle; Justin Eller, Sacramento State, C, 6-8, Sr, Yreka, Calif.; Broderick Gilchrest, Idaho State, G, 6-0, Jr., Memphis, Tenn.; Marquis Navarre, Montana State, G, 5-11, Sr., Oceanside, Calif.; Ryan Staudacher, Montana, G, 6-4, Sr., Kirkland, Wash.

MVP - Damian Lillard, G, Weber State

Newcomer of the Year - Franklin Session, G/F, Weber State

Freshman Of the Year - Glen Dean, G, Eastern Washington

Defensive Player of the Year - Yahosh Bonner, G, Northern Colorado.

 

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