With all three local teams showing domination on any given night, these selections were, by far, the most difficult.

The Waseca Bluejays (26-4), New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva Panthers (24-4) and Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton Bulldogs (17-10) all have multiple athletes worthy of the WCN All-Area Team; but in the end, we could only select five of them.

Sam Eustice (forward, senior, JWP)

Eustice earned Valley all-conference recognition while leading a sharp-shooting Bulldogs team to a 17-10 record in his senior year. He averaged 15.8 points per game on 49 percent shooting while leading the team in rebounding (8.4 per game) and was second on the team in steals (56). On top of his athletic career, Eustice carries a 3.904 GPA and will be heading to St. Thomas in the fall, with his sights set on playing basketball for the Tommies.

Benji Lundberg (guard, senior, NRHEG)

Lundberg, a Gopher all-conference player, led the Panthers to the 2AA South Sub-section title game, before falling to a very tough Maple River team who NRHEG had beaten the previous two times in the regular season. As a senior, Lundberg averaged 18.8 points , 4.8 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game. He also eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for his career in his final game wearing the black and red. He will be attending Gustavus Adolphus College next fall to continue his basketball career.

Adam Schumacher (guard, senior, Waseca)

Schumacher was a player who could either take over a game offensively (10.6 points per game), or be the catalyst emotionally to rally his teammates or the crowd back into a game. Though his name wasn’t always blowing up the stat sheet, he played an integral role in the development and success of a Bluejays team that broke the record for most wins in a single season. He was awarded Big South all-conference at the end of the year. Like Lundberg, Schumacher will be heading to GAC to further his academic and basketball career.

Jerret Utpadel (guard, senior, NRHEG)

Utpadel earned Gopher all-conference in his senior season, averaging 8.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. Though his offensive numbers were solid, head coach Pat Churchill attributes his selection to the all-conference team to his tenacious defensive capabilities as he was routinely used on the opposing team’s biggest offensive weapon.

Malik Willingham (guard, junior, Waseca)

All Malik Willingham did was lead the Bluejays with 21.7 points 6.2 assists and 3.77 steals per game in 2017-18, while leading the team to within one game of the state tournament before losing, 78-70, to Mankato East at Gustavus Adolphus College in the section semifinal. The highlight of the year for Willingham came on February 13 against conference foe Fairmont, in which he scored 32 points on 13-20 shooting. He was also awarded Big South all-conference in his junior season.

Honorable Mention

Brady Agrimson — guard, junior, NRHEG: (Gopher all-conference) — 2018 stats: 11.8 ppg, 5.9 rbg

Andrew Fisel — guard/forward, senior, JWP: (Valley all-conference) — 2018 stats: 17.1 ppg, 3.3 rbg, 39% 3-point percentage on 278 shots

Matt Olsem — forward, junior, Waseca: (Big South all-conference) — 2018 stats: 8.6 ppg, 6.5 rbg

Jack Vetsch — forward, senior, Waseca: (Big South all-conference honorable mention) — 2018 stats: 8.7 ppg, 4.1 rbg, 64.7% field goal percentage

Kobe Weimert — guard, sophomore, JWP: (Valley all-conference honorable mention) — 2018 stats: 12.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.4 spg

Sports Editor Ian Srp can be reached at 507-837-5447. Follow him on Twitter @WCNSports.

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