Basketball is about so much more than scoring, and perhaps no player personifies that mantra more than McCracken County senior Noah Dumas.
Though quite capable of being a standout scorer, Dumas averaged a modest 15.4 points per game entering this year’s state tournament. That number led the Mustangs this season but perhaps doesn’t jump off the page when comparing him to other players. However, his impact extends far beyond scoring, as he’s been invaluable to the Mustangs’ success as a true leader on both ends of the court in helping the team reach its second straight Sweet 16. First Region coaches and select media members certainly took notice, voting Dumas as the 2021 All-Purchase boys basketball Player of the Year.
“There are a lot of good players in Region 1, so it’s truly a blessing to be the All-Purchase Player of the Year,” Dumas told The Sun upon learning of the recognition.
Earlier this season, Dumas shared Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches Co-Player of the Year honors with Marshall County senior Zion Harmon. But he came out as the clear winner in the All-Purchase voting, earning him a $1,000 scholarship courtesy of sponsor WoodmenLife.
“You have to tip your hat to the coaches who recognize that sometimes it’s not all about points,” Mustangs head coach Burlin Brower said. “Noah wasn’t the leading scorer in the region, but he was the one guy who always found a way to make certain we won.”
In a word, that’s how Brower describes Dumas — winner. He’s willing to do whatever it takes — scoring, finding open teammates with crisp passes, playing lock-down defense — to lead the Mustangs to victory.
“Everybody likes their individual accolades, but when it’s all said and done, that dude likes to look up at the scoreboard and make certain we win. And he’s done a really good job of that since he’s been here,” Brower said.
Solid defensive play has been a hallmark of the Mustangs’ program under Brower, and Dumas is often tasked with guarding the opposition’s best player. He takes those assignments seriously.
“On the defensive end, you have to bring something to the table,” Dumas said. “I don’t worry just about scoring — I worry about my defense also.”
It’s not often that a team’s top scorer is also its best defender, but that’s exactly what the Mustangs have in Dumas, Brower said.
“It’s always special when your best offensive player is also your best defender. That makes coaching a lot easier,” he said.
How does that make coaching easier? It’s because Dumas’ effort on the defensive end serves as an example to his teammates that even the top scorer dedicates himself to the other end of the floor.
“What Noah’s legacy here will be is that not only does he score the ball, but he’s the one who wants to guard the other team’s best player. And I think the other kids have realized that that’s what wins games,” Brower said. “He doesn’t back down from anybody, and with some of the guys he’s guarded this year and the way he’s guarded them, the kids on the bench really respect that.”
Dumas’ unselfishness and passing ability are also big parts of what makes him so valuable, Brower said.
“He finds guys in spots where they can be successful,” he said. “So even though our guys might not be the best players in the world, if you get them the ball wide open, they’re as good as anybody, and Noah found those guys like that a lot.”
One game in which Dumas displayed his passing abilities in the clutch was March 1 at home against University Heights Academy. He finished with just four points but was a major factor down the stretch, providing the assist on two key baskets, including an and-1 and the eventual game-winning layup with four seconds remaining in the Mustangs’ 59-57 victory.
“Most people drive those last two possessions and try to get their points,” Brower said. “He dropped both those things off, and it ended up being worth five points those last two possessions to win the game for us.”
Making those winning plays is a sign of true leadership, which Dumas has displayed all season long from the point guard position. He’s adapted well to the role of team leader in filling the shoes of 2020 graduate Jackson Sivills.
“Jackson was always the guy we looked at to lead, and Noah has had to take that role. And how good we were going to be was kind of going to depend on his maturity and leadership,” Brower said. “If he didn’t take a good leadership role, I don’t think we would’ve been near as good or as consistent as we’ve been.”
Dumas emerged as the team’s clear-cut leader early on and has become its go-to option late in games.
“After a few practices, everybody was like, ‘He’s our guy,’ ” Brower said. “When it comes late in the game, Noah gets the ball, and there’s no debate about that between the guys. Those guys are willing to get him the ball.”
He’s certainly garnered the respect of his teammates.
“He’s our firepower out on the court, and he always brings the team together,” Mustang sophomore Jack McCune said.
Senior Ian McCune agreed, describing Dumas as a fantastic teammate.
“I’ve played with Noah since I was in sixth grade, and we feed off of each other,” he said. “He gives off a lot of positive energy, and we really enjoy playing with each other.”
With Dumas leading the way, the Mustangs won Second District and First Region championships this season, advancing to the Sweet 16 for the second straight year. They then defeated Bullitt East to advance to the state quarterfinals and entered that game against Highlands on Friday with a record of 23-6. Dumas described his senior season as “fun,” “amazing” and “very special.”
Those words could be used to describe Dumas’ entire four-year career as a Mustang. In that span, the team has gone 74-4 in First Region games, won four district titles and appeared in four region championship games, winning three of them.
“I’m proud of the whole thing — all of it is a blessing,” Dumas said of his multitude of achievements.
He credits Brower for being instrumental in helping him become the player that he is today.
“Burlin has taught me a lot about how to become a better point guard and how to win games, which is not always about scoring,” he said.
As for how he’d describe his legacy?
“A winning legacy — that’s it,” he said.
He’s certainly a player his coach will never forget.
“I’ve known Noah for a while, and to watch him grow and become the player he is and to lead the way he has — it’s been special to watch,” Brower said.
But Dumas’ high school career may not be over just yet, as he’s considering returning for another season with the Mustangs under Kentucky’s new Supplemental School Year Program that was recently signed into law.
“I might stay here another year,” he said.
Nine other players joined Dumas on the 2021 All-Purchase boys basketball team.
Grant Whitaker, sophomore, MurrayWhitaker averaged 20.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game and shot 56.8% from the floor, 35.5% from 3-point range and 67.6% from the foul line in helping the Tigers go 17-8 and finish as the region runner-up.
Eli Brown, senior, Paducah Tilghman
Brown averaged 16.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists while shooting 51.3% from the field, 45.9% from 3-point range and 72.4% from the foul line in helping the Blue Tornado to an 18-6 record this season.
“Eli is a high-character, high-IQ player that has one concern and that is helping his team be successful,” head coach Greg Overstreet said. “His stats show his strengths, but what he brings to the team with his communication and daily effort makes him a great teammate.”
Zion Harmon, senior, Marshall CountyLimited to 15 games due to a foot injury, Harmon, a Western Kentucky University signee, averaged 22.3 points and 2.8 rebounds while shooting 51.2% from the field and 69.5% on free throws.
“Zion is a terrific player with an incredibly high skill set on the offensive end,” head coach Terry Birdsong said. “He’s accomplished about everything a high school player could accomplish, even after being forced to miss an entire season.”
Drew Thompson, senior, GravesThompson averaged 20.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists while amassing 36 steals. He made 49 3-pointers and shot 85.9% from the foul line.
“Drew has the unique ability to influence the game on both ends of the floor with his high skill set and leadership abilities,” head coach Josh Frick said. “He quickly made a huge impact on our basketball team not only scoring the ball, but also with the effort and energy he brought each day.”
Parker MacCauley, senior, St. MaryMacCauley averaged 18.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.1 steals while making 43 3-pointers and shooting 67% from the foul line.
“Parker had a great season for us, and I am really excited for him to get this recognition,” head coach Chase Denson said. “He is one who always holds himself accountable and doesn’t shy away from the big stage, which made him so much fun to coach.”
Garrett Hayden, junior, Carlisle CountyHayden averaged 18.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game while making 36 3-pointers and shooting 83.5% from the foul line.
“Garrett is one of the hardest workers outside of practice I’ve had in all my years of coaching,” head coach Brian O’Neill said. “He took his game to another level this year with work that he put in before and during the season. I look forward to what he can accomplish next year.”
Matthew Ray, junior, CallowayRay averaged 14.2 points and 8.6 rebounds per game and made 54 3-pointers this season.
“Mathew Ray had a great breakout season,” head coach Brad Cleaver said. “His hard work and great attitude are the keys to his success. I look forward to seeing where he goes from here. I am thankful that Matt is a Laker.”
Mian Shaw, junior, Paducah TilghmanShaw averaged 13.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game and shot 56.1% from the field and 74.2% from the foul line this season.
“Mian is a special talent and just continued to get better as the season progressed,” Overstreet said. “He has great first step, does a great job of moving without ball, and is a tough guard in transition. We really look forward to being a part of his progress in the offseason.”
Andrew Allen, senior, Christian FellowshipAllen averaged 16.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game while shooting 82.4% from the foul line and making 36 3-pointers this season.
“I’m beyond proud of him,” head coach Tyler Ryan said. “I’ve had the privilege of coaching him for three seasons, and he’s the type of player that every coach wants leading their team. He’s a great ballplayer and an even better young man.”