PAOLA — The offense for the Paola Panthers ran through sophomore center Trey Moala.
Moala, 6-5, was a powerful presence in the lane. He could drive the lane and slam dunk the ball, pull up for a jump shot and sink a 3-pointer from the top of the key.
He was also a force on the boards, leading Paola in rebounds.
Moala was named the Tri-County Spotlight Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
“It’s a great honor to receive this award,” Moala said. “I’m thankful for all the people who have supported me this far and we aren’t done yet.”
Moala was a unanimous first-team All-Frontier League Boys Basketball Team selection. He was also first-team on the Spotlight boys basketball team.
Moala averaged 16 points and seven rebounds per game.
By the numbers he had an incredible season, but Moala was more than simply stats on a scoresheet, Paola coach David Cash said.
“Trey had a great year for us,” Cash said. “He was very consistent all year long. He works very hard at improving his game.”
Moala was a team leader on and off the court, Cash said.
“”The thing that sticks out with Trey is he is a great teammate,” he said. “Our guys love being around him.
“He is a very well rounded young man,” Cash said. “He works just as hard in the classroom as he does on the basketball floor. He is very coachable and wants what is best for everyone.”
The Paola Panthers were playing their best basketball at the end of the season, coming up one basket short of moving onto the Class 4A substate finals. Paola took a hard two-point loss to open the tournament on the road against Tonganoxie.
“I think I improved a lot as a player this season as well as our team,” Moala said. “Our record wasn’t perfect, but we continued to improve every game.
“I loved playing with this group of guys because we had a bond on and off the court, and most importantly we had fun,” he said.
Moala scored 15 points in the final game of the season, a 55-53 loss to Tonganoxie on March 4.
He finished with 14 points in Paola’s final home game, a 64-52 victory against Louisburg on senior night Feb. 28.
“I’m definitely going to miss my seniors, but I’m happy we were able to get them a rivalry win on senior night,” Moala said. “Many memories were made this season which I will cherish for a long time. It is nice to see your hard work pay off, but I still have more work left to do. We will be back soon.”
Moala posted 11 points in a six-point win, 47-41, at Tonganoxie in Frontier League play Feb. 21. Paola went on a 16-9 fourth-quarter run to seal the victory.
He scored 13 points in a tight 50-42 loss at Spring Hill on Feb. 11.
Moala finished with 12 points in a 63-59 double-overtime loss at home against Fort Scott on winter homecoming Feb. 7.
Moala posted 21 points to lead the Paola Panthers to a 64-52 victory on the road against the Louisburg Wildcats on Feb. 4.
He scored 16 points in a hard-fought 59-48 loss against De Soto on Jan. 31. Moala made seven field goals and added a pair of free throws.
Moala hit his season high for the second time, matching his jersey number, dropping 25 points in a 64-48 victory at Bonner Springs on Jan. 28.
Moala scored a game-high 21 points in a 57-50 victory against Prairie View in the Burlington Invitational on Jan. 25. Moala had 13 points in a 52-49 victory against Caney Valley in the second round of the tournament Jan. 24. He had 11 points in a 62-50 loss to Burlington to open the tournament.
Moala scored 13 points against rival Spring Hill in a 48-43 loss at home Jan. 3.
He posted a game-high 20 points in a 47-33 loss at Ottawa on Dec. 20. Moala made seven field goals in the game and was six for eight at the free-throw line.
Moala posted a team-high 25 points, his most of the season, in a 51-50 victory against Verita during the Eudora Invitational on Dec. 10. He scored 10 points in the opening round of the tournament, a loss to Harmon on Dec. 9.