NCKS News
03.25.2020 - [NCKS]

This week is our first installment of the NCKSSports.com/Cunningham Telephone and Cable Senior Athlete Spotlight.  Each week we'll spotlight a male and female athlete from area schools.  We start with the St. John's/Tipton Blujays and Brandon Bates and Caitlin Strong.

Bates had an outstanding finish to the 2019-20 basketball season for the Blujays, helping lead the team to a 20-6, Sub-State runner-up finish.  On the season, he put up 14.3 ppg, 3.8 apg, 3.2 rpg and 2.1 spg.  However, in the last five games of the year, he averaged just under 20 ppg, including a season-high 27 in the Sub-State Championship against Frankfort on March 7 in Marysville.  He finished the season 40% from the floor and made 42 three-pointers.  He also shot 68-88 from the free throw line, a 77% mark.  In his career with the Blujays, Bates averaged 13.8 ppg and shot 40% from the floor, 38% from three-point land and 70% from the free throw line.  Bates has been a 1st team all-Northern Plains League pick the past two seasons.  Bates also excelled in cross country with top 10 finishes at the state meet in 2017 and 2018.  A foot injury kept him from his top potential during his senior cross country season.

Strong has excelled on the volleyball court for St. John's/Tipton as the starting setter since her sophomore season for the Lady Jays.  However, in 2019-20, she became a key contributor on the basketball court as well.  This past season, she was the second leading scorer at just under 8 ppg and tied for the team lead in rebounding at 4.4 per contest.  She scored a career high 18 points on January 24 against Pike Valley.  Strong was a 3rd team all-NPL basketball pick.  On the volleyball court, she has been a 1st-team all-league selection each of the past two years.  She led her team with 530 assists and 87 aces as a senior.  She finished her career with 1,690 assists, averaging out to 6.3 assists per set.  Strong is headed to Northwestern Oklahoma State in Alva, OK to play college volleyball.