Times Sports Editor
The Olney Central Blue Knights have had a resurgent season this year with a 14-5 mark overall and wins in 14 of the last 16 basketball games.
Former Northview Knight, Austin Akers, has been a big part of the team's success the last two seasons and has drawn interest from four-year schools. Akers is in his sophomore year at OCC and has excelled distributing the ball this year.
"He has been good for us as expected. He's started in all 18 games for us as we are 5-1 in the league and 14-5 overall," Olney coach Michael Burris said. "He has been a little inconsistent shooting the ball, which has a lot to do with his 35 minutes per game. He has become a much better leader and a defender for us this season. He is among four players in double figures, leading us in scoring at 12.8 ppg. He leads us in assists at 5.3 apg and is only turning the ball over 1.7 times a game. He is averaging 3.4 rebounds and one steal per game.
In the Blue Knights most recent game, Akers tied for team-high honors with 16 points to go with seven assists and five rebounds. He also hit three-of-six from beyond the arc as OCC hit 15-of-34 3-point shots in an 86-75 victory against Lincoln Trail.
"We started slow at 0-3. Then won seven straight before losing 86-80 to Lincoln College in a game where Jeff Hefner our starting post was out due to injury," Burris said. "We won five in a row before losing this past Monday on the road to SW Illinois 53-51 in a game where we shot 30% from the floor. We have a big home game coming up against rival Wabash Valley, who is undefeated in league on Wednesday.
Akers has shot 37 percent from the floor and 31 percent from 3-point land and 60 percent from the free throw line for the Blue Knights.
What has likely garnered Akers the most attention from collegiate coaches is his play against the top competition.
"He's played his best games against the best opponents. He had a three-game stretch earlier versus then No. 1 ranked Lincoln College, Mineral Area, and Allegheny all strong teams where he had 23 assists to one turnover and played the entire 40 minutes in all three games," Burris said.
"We are thrilled with his growth as a student, player and person during his time here. We owe Coach Maesch a lot for having him ready to play at the college level. He has turned into a man. He is taking leadership of this team. We play well when Austin leads us," Burris said. "We are going to be sad when his time is up. He is going to be hard to replace. He's a great kid from a great family. We have been lucky to have him here and we want time to go as slow as possible so we don't have to say good-bye to him."