s
s
Sections
Sections
Subscribe
You've read 5 of 15 free articles this month.
Support local journalism and get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app, all starting at 99 cents per month.
Already a subscriber?
You've read 10 of 15 free articles this month.
Support local journalism and get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app, all starting at 99 cents per month.
Already a subscriber?
You've read all of your free articles this month.
Support local journalism and get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app, all starting at 99 cents per month.
Already a subscriber?
We've got a special deal for readers like you.
Support local journalism and get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app, all starting at 99 cents per month.
Already a subscriber?
Thanks for reading! Why not subscribe?
Support local journalism and get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app, all starting at 99 cents per month.
Already a subscriber?
Want to keep reading? Subscribe today!
Ooops! You're out of free articles. Starting at just 99 cents per month, you can keep reading all of our products and support local journalism.
Already a subscriber?

ALL-EMPIRE LARGE SCHOOL BOYS BASKETBALL

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Gabe Knight, sr., Windsor

FIRST TEAM

Parker Canady, sr., Windsor

Nick Fujii, sr., Analy

Sammy Mora, sr., Ukiah

Ryan Perez, sr., Petaluma

Joel Seitz, sr., Montgomery

SECOND TEAM

Juan Aguilar, jr., Healdsburg

Nate Hale, sr., Ukiah

Tommy LaVine, sr., Santa Rosa

Conor McCarthy, sr., Cardinal Newman

Brent Tucker, sr., Windsor

COACH OF THE YEAR

Tom Bonfigli, Cardinal Newman


Sometimes this Player of the Year thing can be a brutal process, because sometimes there is so little to separate the top two or three candidates. It feels odd to anoint one kid when someone else is equally deserving.

And then there are seasons like 2015-16, when the pick is so easy it might be unanimous among Redwood Empire basketball coaches.

“They were clearly the best team, and he was clearly the best player, and they never would have done what they did without him,” Cardinal Newman’s Tom Bonfigli said of Windsor’s Gabe Knight.

“I just think he’s by far the most complete player in the area,” Montgomery coach Zac Tiedeman said. “He can handle the ball, he can post up, he can shoot from outside. The thing about him, he plays at a different pace than a lot of kids around here. He plays in control. It’s almost that old-man game. He never seems sped up or out of control.”

From start to finish this season, Knight was firmly in control. And so was Windsor. The Jaguars had a breakthrough season, going from fourth place in the North Bay League the year before to an undefeated league season, and improving their overall record from 15-12 to 25-4. And Knight led the way by averaging 17.3 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. All of those figures led the team.

Knight didn’t do it alone by any means. But his versatility made him the guy Windsor couldn’t do without.

At a team meeting before the season, Jaguars coach Travis Taylor had his kids rank their top five teammates in five different categories: best defender, best rebounder, best shooter, best post player, hardest worker. Players could vote for themselves. It was just for fun.

“And I didn’t direct them too much on how to define those skills,” Taylor said. “Like, for example, best shooter. That could be free throws, 3-pointers, a game of HORSE — whatever it means to you. Gabe was on top of every list. Well, I think he was like third-best defender and No. 1 in all the others.”

Knight played point guard exclusively as a junior. As a senior, Taylor asked him to be more of a combo guard, though Knight still handled the ball much of the time. At 6-foot-4, he was also a presence inside.

“He’s strong,” Taylor said. “He just knows how to play. We threw him into the post at times.”

Knight was a gift that fell in Taylor’s lap two years ago, when the student moved to Windsor from Ukiah. It took no time at all to see Knight’s gifts on the court, though the evolution of the team was a more gradual process.

“My junior year I had just moved there, so everyone was kind of getting used to the fact that I was a leader now,” Knight said. “My senior year we got a lot better and played as team more. We were more unselfish.”

Taylor calls Knight a “connector,” noting that he worked with younger players in the program to make them better. Knight still comes to the Jaguars’ open gyms. He isn’t entirely sure what comes next, though he thinks it’s likely he’ll play for coach Craig McMillan at Santa Rosa JC next year.

ALL-EMPIRE LARGE SCHOOL BOYS BASKETBALL

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Gabe Knight, sr., Windsor

FIRST TEAM

Parker Canady, sr., Windsor

Nick Fujii, sr., Analy

Sammy Mora, sr., Ukiah

Ryan Perez, sr., Petaluma

Joel Seitz, sr., Montgomery

SECOND TEAM

Juan Aguilar, jr., Healdsburg

Nate Hale, sr., Ukiah

Tommy LaVine, sr., Santa Rosa

Conor McCarthy, sr., Cardinal Newman

Brent Tucker, sr., Windsor

COACH OF THE YEAR

Tom Bonfigli, Cardinal Newman

Needless to say, he will be missed in Windsor.

“He’s a rock-solid kid,” Taylor said. “At our awards banquet, I was really brief talking about how skilled Gabe was, or how he scored 2,000 points in two years. I talked about what kind of kid he was. He was over at the house yesterday shooting with my kids. He’s just a solid young man. He’ll be a great coach someday.”