NCS Junior of the Year
SHANE BELL, SALESIAN
When Salesian took the court for the 2018-2019 season, it did so knowing that it would need to rely on a variety of players to replace the scoring load which had previously been shouldered by current Georgetown standout James Akinjo.
Despite Akinjo’s graduation, the Pride thrived, winning their first 31 games, including an unbeaten regular season and another NCS Division III title. One of the players who stepped up in a big way was junior Shane Bell, who would end up leading Salesian in scoring at 13.3 points per game. And he not only filled the necessary role of scorer, but also that of a team leader on and off the court.
“Shane’s biggest improvement might have been how he became a leader,” said Salesian coach Bill Mellis. “He definitely had the respect of his teammates and coaches this year.”
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Of course, Bell did provide a huge role on the court. In the championship game of the Gridley Invitational Basketball Tournament, the six-foot-three guard scored 22 points during a 77-59 win against Sheldon, a team which would eventually capture the CIF NorCal Open title. Four days later, Bell added 21 points in a win over Alameda, but that was just a prelude to his national-stage performance in the Chick-fil-A Classic in Columbia, South Carolina.
Playing against some of the best teams from the South and the East Coast, Bell took over. He had 16 points in a win over Georgia 7A semifinalist Norcross, 20 points in a five-point win over North Carolina 4A quarterfinalist Independence-Charlotte, and then scored the last six points in a 45-39 win over Dorman, the South Carolina 5A state champion. For his efforts, Bell was named the Most Valuable Player of the elite tournament.
“His demeanor on the court is just terrific,” Mellis added. “He shows no emotion and doesn’t let anything rattle him.”
Bell continued to lead the Pride down the stretch, navigating an always dangerous slate of TCAL-Rock games and routing Clark-Las Vegas in the Crush in the Valley Showcase. Combined with the dominant run through the section playoffs, it was a huge season for a Salesian team which had lost its primary scorer from the previous year.
For his efforts throughout the season, we are pleased to recognize Shane Bell as the Prep2Prep North Coast Section Junior of the Year.
Other players considered include Dublin’s Robby Beasley, Campolindo’s Carter Mahaney and Monte Vista’s Nate Rutchena.
NOTE: We would like to thank our media partners, coaches, parents, players and fans for contributing photos for our all-section features. We salute all of the players that have made this a wonderful season of NCS basketball.