2023-24 Times All-Area Boys Basketball Team

Recognizing 25 of the area’s top players

Streator's Christian Benning eyes the hoop as Pontiac's Henry Brummel and Amazin King defend during the Class 3A Regional semifinal game on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2024 at Pops Dale Gymnasium.

Presenting the 2023-24 Times All-Area Boys Basketball Team, a collection of 25 of the area’s top players as voted on by The Times Sports staff.

First Team

Christian Benning

Christian Benning, Streator, sr.

Benning helped lead the Bulldogs to a 23-9 mark, the 23 wins within one of tying the most for a Bulldogs team going back to the mid-1960s. He was an Illinois Central Eight All-Conference, Illinois Media Class 3A All-State honorable mention and ICBA 3A All-State special mention honoree. Benning averaged 19.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.3 steals and sank 47 of 138 (34.1%) shots from beyond the arc. He was selected to the all-tournament team at the Plano Christmas Classic. He finished his career second in career points at Streator with 1,832, behind only J.J. Cravatta’s 1,960. A unanimous first-team selection to our first team this year as well, he was a member of our first team in 2023 and received honorable mention in 2022.

Earlville's Griffin Cook

Griffin Cook, Earlville, sr.

Cook, who missed the latter half of his junior season with an injury, returned to help the Red Raiders to a school record 28 wins, a title at the Route 17 Thanksgiving Classic, runner-up finishes in the Little Ten Conference regular season and tournament and a 1A regional title game appearance. He averaged 16.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, an area best 6.1 assists, and 3.1 steals while also shooting 55% from the field. A 1,000-point career scorer, Cook was named to the Route 17 All-Tournament team, a unanimous All-Little Ten Conference pick, and IBCA and Illinois Media 1A All-State honorable mention selections. Cook was also on our second team in 2022.

Serena's Tanner Faivre

Tanner Faivre, Serena, sr.

Faivre, the Huskers point guard and point of their full-court diamond press, helped lead his squad to a school record 31-4 mark, an unbeaten LTC regular-season title and second straight league tournament championship, as well as a second consecutive 1A regional title and sectional final appearance. He averaged 13.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists. He was selected to the Marquette Christmas All-Tournament team, was a unanimous pick the All-LTC club and was a IBCA 1A All-State third team honoree. This is Faivre’s first appearance on The Times All-Area Team.

Paxton Giertz

Paxton Giertz, Seneca, jr.

The 2024 Times Boys Basketball Player of the Year, Giertz led the Fighting Irish to a 23-10 season in which Seneca won the Tri-County Conference Tournament championship for the first time. Giertz averaged an area-best 21.6 points, to go along with 5.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 2.5 steals, while sinking 104 3-pointers and swishing 82.4% from the free-throw line. He was a unanimous T-CC first team pick, as well as the league’s Player of the Year, was named to the Seneca Turkey and Effingham/Teutopolis Christmas Classic All-Tournament teams, Illinois Media 2A All-State second team and IBCA 2A All-State third team. Giertz was a unanimous first-team selection and The 2023 Times Player of the Year last season, as well as an honorable mention selection in 2022.

Brady Ruestman

Brady Ruestman, Fieldcrest, sr.

A unanimous selection to our first team, Ruestman averaged 13.3 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.7 blocks or the Knights. His efforts helped Fieldcrest win program best 33 games, while capturing Colmone Classic title, an undefeated regular-season Heart of Illinois Conference and second straight McLean County/HOIC Tournament championship, as well as a 2A regional title. He was named the MVP at the Colmone, unanimous HOIC first team, Illinois Media 2A All-State honorable mention and IBCA 2A All-State third team. Ruestman was an honorable mention all-area selection in 2023.

Ottawa's Cooper Knoll eyes the hoop as Morris's Caston Norris defends on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024 at Kingman Gym.

Second Team

Cooper Knoll, Ottawa, sr.

Richie Armour, Serena, sr.

Kesler Collins, Flanagan-Cornell, sr.

Alec Novotney, Marquette, so.

Ryan Browder, Earlville, sr.

Third Team

Carson Baker, Serena, sr.

Lane Provance, Seneca, sr.

Ed Lorton, Fieldcrest, jr.

Hunter Staton, Serena, sr.

Denver Trainor, Marquette, sr.

Denver Trainor of Marquette puts up a shot over Woodland's Nick Plesko during the game on January 30, 2024.

Honorable Mention

Logan Aukland, Streator, sr.

Carson Bahrey, Somonauk, sr.

Jozia Johnson, Fieldcrest, sr.

Kysen Klinker, Seneca, sr.

Chance Lange, Sandwich, sr.

Dylan Long, Newark, jr.

Jon Moore, Woodland, sr.

Gunnar Nelson, Leland, jr.

Nick Plesko, Woodland, jr.

Adam Waite, Earlville, jr.