CCS Junior of the Year
KIRAN KRUSE, BELLARMINE
Kiran Kruse may be quiet when he’s on the court, but if he was talking back and forth with opponents, the Bellarmine Blue Crew’s cheers would drown him out.
Kruse has developed a flair for the dramatic over the past two years, and his successes as part of Bellarmine’s CCS Open Division Championship team and back-to-back WCAL championships have earned him the honor of CCS Junior of the Year.
He averaged nine points per game as a junior, a number that looks unassuming by itself, but when paired with the excellent play of teammates Jake Wojcik and Kendall Stubblefield, it’s easy to see just how valuable Kruse was.
“Kiran offered such great stability at both ends of the floor,” said head coach Patrick Schneider. “We could run plays through him or for him on offense and he was tremendous hitting open shots in big moments. Defensively, he could guard any position on the floor.”
He first made a name for himself as a sophomore by hitting a pair of last-second free throws for an emotional overtime win over St. Francis, one that meant so much more than basketball for a grieving Bellarmine community. As a junior, he continued stepping up in big moments. In an OT win over St. Ignatius to open league play, he recorded a double-double and sank nine of 11 free throws.
His biggest shots came in the Bells’ first of three wins over St. Francis, a 64-61 thriller before a packed house on January 23. He scored 21, and with Roy Yuan catching fire for the rival Lancers, every one of those 21 was critical. On a night where Wojcik was defended heavily, Kruse was hot from the start, scoring eight as Bellarmine jumped out to an early lead. St. Francis erased a 12-point lead in the third, but Kruse gave Bellarmine a 50-48 lead off an inbound pass in the fourth and hit a 3-pointer with three minutes left to make it 58-53. After that shot, St. Francis never had the ball with a chance to take the lead.
With Wojcik heading to Richmond and Stubblefield bound for UC Irvine, Kruse and other juniors like Gio Saso will need to continue to grow for the Bells to continue their success. Considering his abilities thus far, including his ability to perform in the spotlight, it shouldn’t be too much to ask for, even as he becomes the focal point of opposing gameplans in his senior year.
Other players considered for this award include Menlo-Atherton’s James Beckwith, St. Ignatius’ Neal Begovich, Monterey’s Evans Charles, Serra’s Parker McDonald, Sacred Heart Cathedral’s E.J. Neal, Monterey’s Tahjae Ordonio, Alisal’s Sebastian Reynoso, St. Ignatius’ Wrenn Robinson, Mitty’s Joseph Vaughn and St. Francis’ Roy Yuan.
NOTE: We would like to thank our media partners, coaches, parents, players and fans for contributing photos for our all-section features.
We salute all of the players that have made this a wonderful season of CCS basketball.