Mountainburg's Ethan Gregory named Press Argus-Courier's Boys Basketball Player of the Year

George "Clay" Mitchell
Press Argus-Courier

When Ethan Gregory injured his ACL during Week 2 of his junior football season, he lost basketball and baseball as well. 

Determined to come back stronger in his senior year, Gregory bounced back to average over 20 points per game and help lead Mountainburg to a 20-win season, reach the state playoffs and for the first time in the school's history, put the Dragons in a position to win both the district and regional titles. 

Mountainburg's Ethan Gregory (1) jumps for his shot as Mansfield's Ethan Pettus (1) watches at Mountainburg during the 2A-4 District semifinal contest on Feb. 25, 2021.

For Gregory's efforts, the 6-foot guard has been named the Press Argus-Courier's Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

"I knew I had to get back quickly and be better than before," Gregory said. "I was nervous at first. I was worried about my knee and if I would be back to where I was as a player. Basketball has been my main thing since I could remember. It was tough missing a year and sitting on the bench in every game."

Last season, the team had to adjust without Gregory, and coach Michael McDonald said it allowed the team to gain more experience.

"We have good chemistry as a team," Gregory said. "Everyone knew how everyone else played, blocked and who would take charges. I think that's why we did so well and got as far as we did in the tournaments.

"I'm going to miss a lot of these guys. They're all my best buds. I love them. I know will keep in touch. I hope they go out and keep working as hard with their lives and maybe be even better."

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McDonald said Gregory added to his "natural athletic ability" when the senior returned.

"He's become a better shooter over the past two years," McDonald said. "I was worried if he may have lost a step or two, but he put in all the hard work into his recovery and came back stronger than ever."

Gregory's biggest game of the season came against Lavaca back on Feb. 12 when he scored 37 points. He had five other games with 29 or more.

"He made the rest of the team's job easier for sure when he came back," McDonald said. "Other teams can't keep Ethan in front of them, and it allowed the other guys on the team to settle into their roles. We weren't a one-man show this season. Almost every game had different guys leading in scoring, and some may have scored more than Ethan. He made some unbelievable passes this season. I had to re-watch the film to make sure what I saw in the game actually happened."

Gregory wants to play basketball at the next level and is waiting to see his options. Once baseball season is over, he plans to get a job this summer and prepare to go to college.

"It is really tough. I can barely get responses from coaches," McDonald said. "A lot of players are getting an extra year because of COVID, so it creates a backlog for these high school seniors. I just know if they give him a chance and do what they ask, they'll be getting a really good player."