After failing to win a game in postseason play after a 17-win regular season during his junior season, New Haven's V.J. Beachem had a decision to make.
He could continue to be the high-flying, quick-shooting player that saw his personal stats soar but leave his team behind. Or, he could re-invent himself and refocus for his final high school campaign.
“It was something I thought about a lot after that sectional loss,” Beachem said. “I wanted to really be a leader, play a team game and get my teammates involved.
I had to sacrifice some things.”
Ironically, the things he sacrificed not only made his team better, but himself better as well.
Beachem saw his offensive looks fall significantly this past season, but his scoring production actually grew by about two points per game, to just over 22 points a contest.
The Bulldogs reaped the rewards as well, winning their first NHC championship and the program's first sectional title in 16 years.
Beachem was also rewarded on a personal level, as he is the 2013 News-Sentinel Boys' Basketball Player of the Year, voted on by The News-Sentinel sports staff.
“He was a leader for us, and he made everybody else better on our team,” New Haven coach Al Gooden said. “He gave it up when he needed to, and took shots when he needed to.”
The change in Beachem's playing philosophy fit his personality better than someone who goes out throwing up 20-25 shots per game. Beachem is perfectly fine playing the silent killer who hits big shots at big times without having to take over games from the opening tip.
Perhaps that is one of the reasons the four-star Notre Dame signee that ranks No. 85 nationally overall is such an afterthought when people talk about some of the best senior players in the state.
“Some guys get so caught up in high school with dominating that it is tough for them to change their game once in college,” Beachem said. “It is a team game. I don't get wrapped up in what some guys say or when they take over a game by themselves. It takes all five guys making a difference on the court.”
Beachem had plenty of help in that regard with New Haven. By the end of the season, many considered center Steve McElvene the most improved player in the area, while players like Jordan Hogue, Monte Stevenson and Jabar Ray helped shoulder the load as well.
But the individual honors also came for Beachem, who was invited to the Top 60 Senior Workout and was named to the 2013 IBCA Senior All-State squad.
Team balance is preached by Coach Mike Brey in South Bend, and Beachem feels he fits right in already.
“(Brey and assistant coach Anthony Solomon) talk to me about being a leader,” Beachem said. “I needed to do other things, not just shoot from the perimeter, so I made some huge stops defensively and got my team involved more.
“I feel like I am definitely ready to do a lot of different things in college.”
The rest of the 2013 News-Sentinel Boys' Basketball All-Area Team includes:
*Bryson Scott, senior, Northrop – A four-time First Team All-SAC member, Scott concluded his high school career being the top all-time scorer in Northrop history while finishing fourth in Indiana Mr. Basketball voting. The Purdue signee averaged 23.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game as the Bruins won their third straight sectional crown. He is also a Top 60 Senior Workout invitee and a 2013 IBCA Senior All-State selection.
*James Blackmon Jr., junior, Bishop Luers – One of the best pure scorers in the state, “JBJ” averaged over 35 points per game as the Knights won their first sectional crown since 2010. The All-SAC First Team member is an Indiana verbal commit and was recently named to the Indiana Junior All-Star core team.
*Justin Mitchell, junior, Wayne – The leader of a Generals squad that finished above .500 for the first time since the 2008-2009 season, Mitchell averaged 20.6 points, 8.2 rebounds 4.5 assists this season. He was named First Team All-SAC and will be the top returning scorer in the conference next year.
*D.J. McCall, junior, Concordia Lutheran – An Indiana Junior All-Star North team member, McCall averaged 17.2 points and 5.1 rebounds to help the Cadets reach their first-ever state title game. A superb athlete, McCall, a First Team All-SAC selection was a regular on the highlight reels with his emphatic dunks.
*Dwight Richards, senior, North Side – A transfer from Bishop Luers, Richards shined in his final high school campaign with the SAC champions. The All-SAC First Team member averaged 17.1 points and 8.0 rebounds per game and shot 41 percent from three-point range.
*Trent Van Horn, senior, Canterbury – A top 60 Senior Workout invitee, Van Horn led the Cavaliers to their third straight sectional championship while averaging 26.5 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. He also shot 86 percent from the free throw line.
*Brenton Scott, senior, Northrop – No longer the “other” Scott brother, Brenton upped his scoring average nearly four points his senior campaign, averaging 19.7 points and 4.2 rebounds this season. A top 60 Senior Workout invitee and a three-time First Team All-SAC selection, Brenton will head to Indiana State to continue his playing career.
*Nick Gamble, senior, Homestead – A First Team All-NHC selection, one of the best clutch shooters in the area finished averaging 15 points and six assists per game. He surpassed 1,000 career points in his senior campaign and his buzzer-beating three-pointer to beat Columbia City was one of the highlights of the season in the area.
*Josh Van Meter, senior, Norwell – A Top 60 Senior Workout invitee, Van Meter finished his career averaging 20 points, 3.8 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game in his senior campaign. A First Team All-NHC selection, Van Meter is the second-leading all-time scorer in Norwell history with 1,389 career points and his third all-time in assists with 314.
*Derek Hinen, senior, Columbia City – Hinen led the Eagles in scoring, averaging 17 points and nearly five assists per game. A First Team All-NHC selection, the senior helped Columbia City win 20 games, the most for the program since the 2003-2004 season. He was also named IBCA Boys Academic All-State Honorable Mention.
*Chandler White, sophomore, Carroll – A First Team All-NHC selection, White finished his sophomore campaign averaging 16.9 points and 6.4 rebounds per game for the Chargers.