Tonsoni voted Clinton County POY
Choosing an All-Clinton County boys’ basketball player of the year from the 2013-14 pool of candidates was a tough decision for the four coaches, but ultimately the highest scoring player on the team that advanced the furthest in the postseason came away with the honor, Rossville senior Brandon Tonsoni.
This year’s candidacy was filled with two Frankfort seniors, one of whom averaged a double-double and the other who led the team in scoring, assists and free throw percentage. There was a Clinton Central junior who led his team in points, rebounds, assists and steals. Don’t forget a rising star in a Clinton Prairie sophomore who led the team in scoring and led the county in made three-point field goals.
Not to mention there were two other Rossville seniors that could have been chosen. One of those Hornets nearly averaged a double-double as the point guard. The other averaged more than 14 points per game as he became a lethal scorer.
Despite all of those worthy candidates, it was Tonsoni who took home the honor this year. He led the Hornets in scoring and was the first of four county players to reach the 1,000-point mark in career scoring. He helped the Hornets win their first sectional championship since 2002.
“I thought he had a good season considering most defenses adjusted to try and stop him,” said Rossville head coach Dave Mosson, who retired after the season. “I think his scoring average went down this year, but I think that was due to him being a marked man, so to speak.
“I thought he improved defensively this year,” he added. “He probably shared the ball a little bit more than he had in the past. So I thought his overall game improved. He still averaged almost 18 points a game. Being the person that most teams zeroed in on, I thought he had a really good season.”
Tonsoni agreed with his coach’s assessment of his senior season.
“As a team, we definitely improved,” Tonsoni said. “We started off the year with the Kitchen Classic and we kind of hit a rough spot, but we came together during the year. We got the problems fixed and we came together, which helped us win the sectional. Individually, I think I improved more over the summer than over the season. As the season went on, our roles became more obvious and I knew what I had to do. I started attacking the basket more than shooting the three, even though the three was still there. I’m happy with my senior year.”
Entering the season, Tonsoni was the focal point of Rossville opponent’s defensive strategy. He was the player they wanted to shut down in hopes that it would slow the team down. Early in the season it seemed to work as he Hornets dropped two of three games at the Indiana Kitchen Classic, although Tonsoni combined to score 31 points in those two losses.
The Hornets found a solution to the problem. Tonsoni began to sit back and let his teammates score, which took some of the focus away from him.
“It’s not fun obviously,” Tonsoni said. “I have no problem with it. I let ET (Brenneman) and (Austin) Miller score more, which helped me get open more because teams couldn’t just focus on me. I have them to thank for that.
“If they’re face guarding me, I have no problem letting ET drive or let Clayton clean up the boards like he did so well,” he added. “It not only helped me, but also helped the team as well.”
Defenses still focused on Tonsoni, but they also had to key on his teammates, too. The effects began to show in his teammate’s numbers.
“Austin’s scoring average went up this year and it was probably a direct result of that and him getting better,” Mosson said. “ET scored more and obviously that opened up Clayton inside. It was a benefit to the whole team.”
Tonsoni reached a career landmark before Christmas break. He surpassed 1,000 career points before the break. He finished his career with 1,301 points, which ranks in the top 10 in school history.
“Getting that out of way early was nice,” Tonsoni said. “Like I said then, it wasn’t a major point for me, but it was nice to get it out of the way.”
Helping him reach that landmark was work in the 2013 summer. He improved his dribble penetration and became more of a complete player before his senior year. Previous to this season, Tonsoni was primarily a three-point threat.
Tonsoni averaged 17.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game this winter. He shot 36 percent from the three-point line, 44 percent from two-point range and 77 percent from the free throw line. He also made the First Team All-Hoosier Heartland Conference for the third time in his career.
In addition to his individual accolades, Tonsoni helped his Hornets win the sectional. That’s the one memory he’ll always remember from this season.
“My parents were talking about it the other day and I got all excited,” Tonsoni said. “I had to get the tape and watch it again.”
While his days of organized, competitive basketball are presumed to be over, Tonsoni hopes to remain near the game while attending Indiana University next year.
“I will miss the competitive side of it,” Tonsoni said. “I will definitely miss my teammates. I played with ET and Miller for forever. I will miss playing with them. I will still be around basketball. I am hoping to be a manager at IU next year. The competitive side of it I’ll definitely miss.
“I definitely plan to run the intramural courts down there,” Tonsoni added. “I will be on those all of the time.”