Double Time: Mt. Vernon’s Jarrards net 2021-22 Boys Basketball Athlete of the Year honors

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Mt. Vernon’s Amhad Jarrard, left, and Armon Jarrard have been named the 2021-22 Daily Reporter All-Hancock County Boys Basketball Players of the Year.

Tom Russo | Daily Reporter

FORTVILLE — Armon Jarrard knows better. At the same time, he’s not one to back down, either.

It’s been several years since Mt. Vernon senior twins Amhad and Armon Jarrard have gone one-on-one on the basketball court. Their father, Antwain, put an end to that former tradition awhile back, and for good reason.

Neither Jarrard ever wants to lose.

“We don’t play anymore because we always end up arguing,” Amhad said. “We haven’t played in a long time.”

On the court, Amhad, who is older by 15 minutes, never failed to get under his brother’s skin with a quick drive to the hoop, a fingertip steal or vice versa with Armon burying a jumper with Amhad’s hand in his face or attacking the rim, himself.

“He hasn’t dunked on me yet, though,” Armon emphasized.

“He knows,” Amhad quipped. “He won’t get under the rim.”

Armon has seen his brother punish the iron multiple times, whether during an AAU game, in-season at Mt. Vernon or in a random pick-up game.

Amhad knows Armon isn’t one to challenge from any range, let alone in the lane.

Quiet by nature, the Jarrards speak loudly when playing basketball, and their abilities haven’t gone unnoticed this offseason.

Every day, a new accolade or showcase invitation seemingly files in.

First were the IBCA All-State selections with Armon garnering a spot on the prestigious Senior Supreme 15 team, while Amhad was named to the Senior Large School All-State team.

Both were also invited to participate in the IHSAA/IBCA Top 100 Workout, the Hoosier Reunion Classic at Historic Hoosier Gym in Knightstown later this month and earned automatic placements on the All-Hoosier Heritage Conference team for a second straight year.

Recently, Armon was named Class 4A Associated Press Third-Team All-State. A week earlier, Amhad was recognized by becoming the fourth Mt. Vernon boys player in school history to net the distinction of Indiana All-Star.

Amhad’s Indiana All-Star selection groups him with former Marauders’ Brian Gilpin (1992), Daniel Turner (2002) and Michael Ertel (2017).

“Armon got AP all-state, and Amhad didn’t. One is an all-star and one wasn’t. One was Supreme 15 and the other wasn’t. I think it just shows when you really look at their statistics, they’re literally tenths of a point off from each other per game,” Mt. Vernon head coach Ben Rhoades said. “They’re not the same. They’re different, and they would just step up at different times. If one was having a tough game, the other was willing and understood that they had to pick up the slack.”

If anything has been proven over the past four years, it’s the Jarrards work better together than against one another, and fittingly they are sharing the honor of being selected as 2021-22 All-Hancock County Co-Boys Basketball Athletes of the Year.

“That’s the reward they’re getting for their hard work and for being focused on what they had in hand. They were both focused on getting to college and playing basketball. They both wanted to win and have scholarships to IUPUI next year. I’m very happy for them and their family that they’re getting what I think they really wanted out of it,” Rhoades said.

“They’ve had a good experience at Mt. Vernon, and I know they’re going to miss us, but they have brighter things ahead.”

Before their senior season commenced, the Jarrards cemented their collegiate futures by committing to IUPUI, and it paid dividends to their state of minds.

Able to compete without distractions, the duo put together their best seasons in 2021-22 and guided the Class 4A Marauders to back-to-back HHC and sectional championships and 61 victories in four varsity campaigns.

The Marauders finished the 2021-22 season with a 22-3 record, winning 16 consecutive games before falling to Ben Davis, 52-50, in the Southport Regional semifinals on March 12.

The mission for the Jarrards, and the other Mt. Vernon seniors, this season was crystal clear — get back to regional, back to Southport Fieldhouse.

As juniors, the duo reached the same stage and lost out to senior-laden Plainfield in the regional semifinals. In their second straight regional appearance, victory eluded them, once more, but it wasn’t decided until the final seconds.

“It felt kind of good in a way. We made it back to regional, but we couldn’t win. I hate that, but it’s alright. I feel like we had a good career over the years, and I’m just so thankful to my teammates and coach Rhoades and coach (John) Rockey and coach Nate (Bingham),” Amhad said.

The Mt. Vernon coaching staff shares the sentiment. It won’t be easy replacing the work ethic and production the twins provided since Rhoades and his staff took over four years ago.

“When I first came in here, they didn’t really know me and I didn’t really know them. I’ve told them, and all of the seniors included, I owe a lot to those guys because I was the new guy, too, and they bought in. We didn’t all agree every day, but I think we managed to get through all of it to be our best, and overall, I think it really helped us,” Rhoades said.

“The leadership by example from those guys was so important. They’ve never been too vocal, but they were always trying to do the right thing.”

The best thing for the Marauders was for the Jarrards to be themselves.

While more of the social butterfly of the two, Armon took flight statistically as a senior, averaging 16.3 points per game. The starting point guard posted 3.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.0 steals a contest, finishing with 997 career points and 119 3-pointers, 262 rebounds, 169 assists and 133 steals.

Amhad, a shooting guard, nearly mirrored his brother’s final numbers, averaging 14.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.2 steals for 895 points, 287 rebounds, 225 assists, 91 steals and 47 blocks.

Feeding off each other’s energy, the twins were fixated on putting Mt. Vernon on the map, and the voters paid attention with the Marauders breaking into and remaining in the Class 4A top-10 rankings a majority of the year.

“There were still some people who felt like we couldn’t play with the best teams,” Armon said. “That was motivation.”

Finishing with consecutive 11-12 seasons as freshmen and sophomores gave the Jarrards more incentive to accelerate their development.

In 2020-21, the Marauders went 17-7 and clinched the program’s first sectional title since 2018 and 14th overall. This year’s marked the team’s 15th and first repeat since the Marauders won three straight in 1985-87 and 1990-92.

“It was difficult in the beginning, but we got through it in the end. Our first and second year, we were struggling. We didn’t win sectional. Our record was under .500 our first year, so it was just good to keep coming up over the years,” Amhad said. “We just wanted to keep proving everyone wrong.”

With every win this season, doubters became believers.

A season-opening loss at 4A Fishers, 65-59, on Dec. 4, led to a six-game winning streak, including a 44-41 victory over former 4A No. 1 Zionsville at Mt. Vernon, as Amhad buried the Eagles with a last-second, walk-off 3-pointer.

Following an 87-78 loss at 4A Westfield on Jan. 4, the Marauders didn’t face defeat again for more than two months.

All along, the Jarrards simply put their heads down and dug in.

“Their whole family is quiet and reserved, but at the same time they were definitely leaders by example all four years. This year, I will say, especially after Christmas, I think both of them were a little bit more vocal and showed more emotion both on the court, during games and at practice,” Rhoades said. “All of them saw what the main goal was and wanted to reach it.”

Now, they’re reaping the benefits, including an Indiana All-Star tour for Amhad that come full circle on June 8 when the Indiana Junior All-Stars face him and the seniors at Mt. Vernon High School.

Rhoades will serve as an assistant coach for the visiting Indiana Junior All-Stars.

Amhad respects his coach, but he’s already making his prediction for the exhibition game this summer on his home floor where he went unbeaten in 2021-22.

“Yeah, I have to stay undefeated in my senior season in my home gym. I can’t go out with an L,” Amhad said with a smile. “Yeah, just like against Zionsville. I’m going to look at coach Rhoades and tell him, I told you.”

2021-22 Daily Reporter All-Hancock County Boys Basketball

First Team

Armon Jarrard, Mt. Vernon

Amhad Jarrard, Mt. Vernon

Steele Brasfield, New Palestine

Dylan Moles, Greenfield-Central

Landon O’Neal, Eastern Hancock

Second Team

Blaine Nunnally, New Palestine

Ian Stephens, New Palestine

Jacob Spaulding, Eastern Hancock

Ray Wells, Mt. Vernon

Silas Spaulding, Eastern Hancock

Honorable Mentions: Eastern Hancock — Edric Miller, Cole Rainbolt, Grant Gray, Cyrus Burton; Greenfield-Central — Braylon Mullins, Joey Roland; Mt. Vernon — Avery Williams, Jr., Cooper Galli, Eli Bridenthal; New Palestine — Ben Slagley.