With a young team around him and a teammate sidelined by injury to begin the year, Mount Vernon’s Isaiah Brown got a chance to be a leader as a sophomore this season.
In the end, the star guard stepped into the role nicely.
Brown was the Bulldogs’ leading scorer as he helped the young team reach the postseason.
For his efforts on and off the court, Brown has been selected the Skagit Valley Herald Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year.
Brown was Skagit County’s leading scorer among boys this season at 16.9 points per game, forming a potent scoring duo with fellow guard Carlos Garcia, who averaged 14.7 points per game.
The two weren’t together all season, though.
Garcia, who is also a star receiver for the Bulldogs football team, missed an early portion of the season with an injury, meaning Brown had to take on a larger role than expected.
Brown kept up his scoring, to be sure. He poured in 30 points in the Bulldogs’ season-opener against Sedro-Woolley; notched 29 against Kamiak in the Bulldogs’ first game against a Western 4A Conference opponent; and racked up a season-high 33 in the postseason against Issaquah.
But that’s not all he did.
“He had a lot put on his shoulders initially,” Bulldogs coach Roger Valentine said. “We started the season without Carlos. Isaiah is a combo guard, but he had to take on the point position because Carlos was injured ... He had to do quite a bit for us to be successful.”
Valentine said Brown stepped into the new role well.
“He’s a young player ... early on, we were living with more turnovers than he would have liked. But as the season went on, he got better at taking care of the ball ... I feel like I saw a great deal of improvement defensively as the season went on. As a freshman he was looking to score. This year he put a lot of his energy into defense.”
Brown said he and his teammates worked hard in the offseason to be ready for this year’s playoff-qualifying season.
“We pushed ourselves over the summer ... weights, open gyms,” he said. “A lot of guys had the desire to play. That desire ... there was more than last year. We wanted to play more. We knew what we could do.”
It was a young Bulldogs squad made up of underclassmen. Under those circumstances, Brown was happy to take on a leadership role.
“I try to lead in every aspect ... scoring, feeding the ball to other players if they get hot.”
While last year’s team won three games, this year’s squad announced its intentions early with an overtime win in its season-opener.
Over the course of the season, the Bulldogs had winning streaks of five and six games.
Their confidence arrived early, said Brown, who was the top vote-getter in all-Western 4A Conference voting.
“That first game got us in the groove,” he said.