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Player of the Year

Readers make call on West Michigan Conference 2023-24 winter sports Players of the Year

Nearly 117,000 total votes were cast in CatchMark SportsNet series sponsored by Durga Insurance Group.

A panel consisting of CatchMark SportsNet’s Scott DeCamp and Durga Insurance Group’s Jordan and Justin Durga selected three finalists from each 2023-24 winter sport for the West Michigan Conference Player of the Year awards.

It was up to readers to determine the Players of the Year, brought to you by title sponsor Durga Insurance Group. For two weeks, readers have weighed in through Crowd Signal third-party fan polls independent of CatchMark and amassed nearly 117,000 total votes.

Now the results are final.

The CatchMark SportsNet West Michigan Conference Players of the Year for 2023-24 winter sports have been determined:

  • Whitehall’s Camden Thompson in boys basketball
  • Mason County Central’s Wren Nelson in girls basketball
  • Whitehall’s Darnell Mack in boys wrestling
  • Montague’s Ava Pelton in girls wrestling
  • Fremont’s Kaden Johnson in boys bowling
  • Ravenna’s Taylor Nutt in girls bowling
  • Mason County Central’s Emily Adams in competitive cheer

The polls opened at 8 a.m. March 18 and closed at 8 a.m. today (April 1). Readers were allowed to vote once per hour in each poll.

The CatchMark SportsNet Player of the Year banquet for the 2023-24 school year is set for 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 22, 2024, at Whitehall High School, 3100 W. White Lake Dr., with the meal in the Viking Center and awards ceremony in the auditorium.

All Player of the Year finalists from the fall, winter, and spring sports seasons and guests will be invited to the banquet. We’re also working on introducing a new twist to our Player of the Year series at the year-end banquet. Stay tuned for an announcement on that later on.

CatchMark will be contacting Player of the Year finalists with more info on the banquet and to get RSVPs.

Trophies and laminated certificates will be awarded at the banquet. A trophy that stays in our CatchMark office in Whitehall will have the names of all Players of the Year engraved on it.

Below are details about each Player of the Year award winner, along with how voting turned out in each sport.

BOYS BASKETBALL: Camden Thompson, Whitehall

This is the third straight season that Thompson has won the CatchMark SportsNet WMC Player of the Year award. … The 6-foot-5 junior wing was a scoring and rebounding machine for Whitehall this season. The Associated Press Division 2 first-team all-stater averaged 20.7 points, 17.0 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.9 steals, and 1.6 blocks per game. … He shot 52 percent inside the 3-point arc, 32 percent from beyond the arc, and 69 percent at the free-throw line. … MLive included him among 25 players to watch for the 2025 Michigan Mr. Basketball award. … Whitehall was 22-0 in the regular season, 12-0 in the WMC Lakes, and ranked in the top five of the state. The Vikings fell to Spring Lake in the Division 2 district semifinals in overtime and finished 22-1.


GIRLS BASKETBALL: Wren Nelson, Mason County Central

The 6-foot-4 senior center was an three-time All-West Michigan Conference performer for the Spartans. … Nelson finished with 980 career points, just shy of the 1,000-point milestone, and she ranks sixth on MCC’s all-time girls scoring list. … This season, she averaged 13.0 points, 12.7 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks. … Nelson shot 65 percent from the floor and posted 13 double-doubles. … Mason County Central posted a 19-5 overall record this season, 10-2 in the WMC Rivers to place runner-up behind Hart. … The Spartans have won 38 games in the last two seasons combined. … MCC advanced to the district finals, where the shorthanded Spartans lost to host Manton. Nelson was injured in the district semifinals two days earlier.


BOYS WRESTLING: Darnell Mack, Whitehall

The senior went 53-2 this season and placed third at the Division 3 state finals in the 150-pound weight class. … Mack was an all-stater as a junior as well, when he posted a 50-9 record and took fourth at 150 pounds. … Like teammate and fellow Player of the Year finalist Gavin Craner, Mack was one of the leaders for Whitehall’s wrestling team, which was a Division 3 state runner-up to juggernaut Dundee. … Mack was a finalist CatchMark SportsNet WMC wrestler of the year award last season. … He was also a primary running back for Whitehall’s football team in the fall, which posted an unbeaten regular season.


GIRLS WRESTLING: Ava Pelton, Montague

The junior for the Lady Mat Cats was the top finisher among girls wrestlers from the West Michigan Conference. Pelton placed third at 155 pounds in the MHSAA individual state finals at Ford Field. She defeated Allendale’s MacKenzie Maka in overtime for third place. She was the only wrestler to beat every ranked girl in her weight class with the exception of one. … Pelton, who also excels in soccer, finished 29-5 on the mat this season for Montague. … She was a state finals qualifier as a freshman and sophomore, including capturing a regional championship this season.


BOYS BOWLING: Kaden Johnson, Fremont

The Packers senior finished second in regular-season West Michigan Conference scoring with an average of 183. … Johnson placed 10th in the WMC tournament with a total score of 542. … He placed seventh in a Division 3 regional at Sherman Bowling Center, nabbing the final state finals-qualifying spot in shooting a five-game total of 1134.


GIRLS BOWLING: Taylor Nutt, Ravenna

The Bulldogs freshman posted the top average in the West Michigan Conference regular season, for a girl or boy, at 188. … Nutt placed runner-up in the WMC tournament with a total score of 495. … She placed runner-up in the Greater Muskegon Athletic Association tournament with a two-game score of 370. … In the Division 4 individual state finals, Nutt made it through qualifying and into the top 16 for match play, where she lost in a roll-off. … Her Ravenna team won WMC, GMAA, and Division 4 regional titles, and made it into match play at the team state finals.


COMPETITIVE CHEER: Emily Adams, Mason County Central

The Spartans senior was voted the CatchMark SportsNet WMC cheerleader of the year for a second straight season. … Her resume this season includes All-West Michigan Conference as well as all-district, and all-regional. She’s also a second-team all-stater. … Adams has been cheering on MCC’s varsity team and competing in all three rounds since she was a freshman. … During her MCC career, she has led the Spartans to three conference runner-up finishes, two district runner-up finishes, and a top-eight placing at the Division 4 state finals (2023).

Lead writer for CatchMark SportsNet and Web Services leader for CatchMark Technologies.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Alivia Hall

    April 1, 2024 at 3:14 pm

    Congratulations to everyone to making this BIG accomplishment. You guys deserve this BIG honor!❤️

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