By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News
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Guard: Jacob Pleines, Quilcene
Guard: Anthony Pinza, Sequim
Guard: Ryan Moss, Neah Bay
Guard: Cody Russell, Port Townsend
Guard: Hayden Gunderson, Port Angeles
Forward: Paul Spaltenstein, , Port Townsend
Forward: Derek Schumacher, Port Angeles
Forward: Kelly Gregory, Clallam Bay
Forward: Alex Barry, Sequim
Post: Leo Gonzales, Forks
Post: Josiah Greene, Neah Bay
Coach: Gerrad Brooks, Neah Bay
Effective point guards conduct a symphony of sorts out on the court, directing and facilitating the flow of games with the flair of a maestro conducting Mozart.
They can weave a basketball composition as imaginative and inspired as any work of art by combining their shooting and scoring skills with ball-handling, court vision, smart decisions and speed.
Add in a willingness to play defense and a healthy dose of determination, and you'll find the floor leader of a winning team, a squad that plays and sacrifices for one another.
Venske possessed all of those attributes for the Red Devils this season, helping guide the team to a 19-3 record, including wins over Class 1A schools Port Townsend, Chimacum and Forks, and third place at the Class 1B state tournament.
His statistics prove his game is well-rounded.
Venske finished the year second on the team with a 12.3 scoring average on 51.4 percent field-goal shooting, a high percentage for guards at any level of the game.
He led the team in assists with 2.9 per game, was second in offensive rebounds, total rebounds (5.2 per contest) and blocks, and was fourth in steals with more than two swipes per game.
Venske's hard work didn't go unnoticed as he was named to The Associated Press 1B All-State team by sports writers and editors from throughout the state and North Olympic League MVP by league coaches.
Venske can now add 2013-14 All-Peninsula Boys Basketball MVP to those accolades.
“He's just so smooth and really methodical about his performance,” Neah Bay head coach Gerrad Brooks, who has coached Venske for his entire high school career, said.
“He lets the game come to him, doesn't force things and is really fun to watch.”
When asked about the strengths of his game Venske replied: “My driving [to the rim] and ball-handling skills.”
His coach agrees.
“He attacks the basket so well, his best strength is really getting to the cup and scoring,” Brooks said.
“But his offensive rebounding and the improvement he has made on his mid-range jumper and his outside shot also stand out.”
One opposing coach came away impressed with Venske's play.
“He's a good team leader and his all-around floor game is solid,” Port Townsend coach Tom Webster said.
Webster's team fell to Neah Bay 69-52 in a late-season nonleague game.
“He can score multiple ways, by getting to the rim, pulling up for a jumper or shooting a 3-pointer,” Webster said.
“He has a bright future ahead of him.”
Venske showed promise last season, making the All-Peninsula team. But his coach believes he was a much improved player as a junior.
“His ability to recognize certain situations and put our team in the right position was far better this year,“ Brooks said.
“He did a much better job at pushing the tempo and looking for the quick bucket, but if it wasn't there he recognized the need to pull it back and get guys in the correct spots in our half-court game.
“He didn't fully comprehend [last year] why it's important in our offense to look for the push every time and sometimes he would wait and try to force things a little, and I didn't see that often this year.”
In order to reach his goal of playing basketball in college, Venske realizes he has even more work to do to prepare.
“A big part of [my offseason] will be lifting weights and spending more time in the weight room,” Venske said.
“I'll work on all aspects of my shooting, too, from free throws to mid-range, jump shots and 3-pointers, and make sure to play every day.”
His coach believes in him.
“Abraham is really a kid you can be proud of,” Brooks said.
“He has his sights set high and he's focused on his goals and how to get there and knows he has to put in the work, and his growth as a player and a person is a testament to that.”