Garrett Bass only played one season for the Belleville West soccer team, but he had a quite the effect.
Bass, a senior forward, produced 23 goals and nine assists with his powerful right foot as the Maroons finished 12-8-3 overall and reached the championship game of the Class 3A Edwardsville Regional, where they lost to Edwardsville 2-0.
Coaches recognized Bass’ contributions by selecting him the Belleville News-Democrat’s Player of the Year. Bass is the first player from West to win the award since Jesse Jordan in 2012.
“It was a pretty good season,” said Bass, who lives in Millstadt. “Our team was pretty good this year, so I had some help. It wasn’t just by myself. I got to play off people and it worked out. I appreciate all the people who voted for me. It means a lot to me. I’m just playing what I love to do.”
Bass, one of five metro-east players to make the all-state first team, played club soccer as a freshman, sophomore and junior, which made for a seamless transition to high-school competition.
Still, scoring so many goals in the Southwestern Conference is no small feat. Former Maroons star Sean Gouveia had 27 goals in 2015, but before then, the most recent players with at least 20 were Alton’s Kevin Cheatham (23) in 2012, O’Fallon’s Tyler Collico (34) in 2011, and Belleville East’s Travis Hoguet (30) and Edwardsville’s Sam Fink (23) in 2010.
“I had played as a right back (in club),” Bass said. “This year, I transferred to a striker and I liked it. I found goals with help from my teammates. I could have gotten more, but I’m happy with it. I missed a couple that I probably should have buried, but I got others that maybe I shouldn’t have made.”
There was more to it than that. Bass played with tremendous pace and was always on the attack, which stressed defenders who were assigned to contain him.
“I learned that from the academy, because I have to play fast in the academy,” said Bass, who plays for St. Louis Scott Gallagher. “I kind of slowed it down in high school, but I still had a fast pace, which kind of put me above everybody else. I kind of learned to finish as the year went on.”
West coach Rob Thornberry called Bass “a scoring machine.”
“He was a very versatile, well-rounded player,” he said. “He was extremely technical, but absolutely exciting to watch because he created so many opportunities for himself. He had nine assists, so he’s a setup guy, too. He’s a very valuable player. He’s not just a one-man show.
“He puts (the ball) on his teammates’ foot. And he battled through a (thigh) injury most of the season. He’s a fighter. He has a strong desire, a strong work ethic.”
Of playing club soccer, Bass said: “We train a lot.”
“We only have 22 games (in 11 months); you play every team twice,” he said. “But it’s really about training. They pretty much tell you that.”
Bass said he never cared what type of defender he matched up against.
“The bigger guys are not always the better defenders at all,” Bass said. “Maybe they’re slower, but they’ve got a bigger body. I don’t mind that at all.”
Bass is glad he played for West in his final year of high school.
“It made me a better player,” he said. “It made me hold myself accountable and my teammates accountable because I wasn’t that much of a captain on my academy team. Now I was one of the better players, so I had to lead my team.”
Bass, the son of John and Holly Bass, also is a star wrestler who competes at 138 and 145 pounds. He has had at least 30 victories in each of his last two seasons.
“What’s cool is people know Garrett as an incredible soccer player,” Thornberry said. “But you would be surprised how many people have said to me, ‘Yeah, he’s a dynamite soccer player, but he’s a better wrestler.’ He’s known in the wrestling world.”
Soccer, however, remains Bass’ favorite sport. He wants to play somewhere in college and certainly possesses the skills to help a team, especially as he continues to work on developing his left foot.
Division II Maryville University and Missouri-St. Louis and Division III Millikin University are among potential matches, but Bass will keep his options open.
“I want to play at a high level,” said Bass, who had a four-goal game against Althoff and two three-goal games, against Waterloo and Fort Zumwalt North.
Thornberry said Bass is “modest” about the appraisal of his left-foot abilities, but even if it doesn’t progress, Thornberry said Bass has so many other weapons.
“He’s very dangerous,” he said. “He can score from 30 yards out. He might take three guys on and score. He can get his head up and see the opportunities. He sees the passing lanes. He’s looking to see where the goalie’s positioned. But what sets him apart is his speed of play, his speed of decision-making. That’s what’s scary if you’re on the other side.”
Belleville News-Democrat All-Area Boys Soccer Team
Player of the Year
- Garrett Bass, Belleville West, sr.
Coach of the Year
- Jason Mathenia, Columbia
- Riley Hubler, Columbia, jr.
- Jimmy Monken, Althoff, sr.
- Sam Schiller, Mascoutah, sr.
- Karson Huels, Gibault, jr.
- Xavier Brown, Belleville West, sr.
- Sam Spivey, Columbia, sr.
- Jaden Deatherage, Triad, sr.
- Malik Wilkes, Mascoutah, sr.
- Zach Timmermann, Edwardsville, sr.
- (tie) Logan Whitehead, Collinsville, jr.
- (tie) Justin Kohler, Waterloo, sr.
- GK: Jon Kuebler, Columbia, sr.
- Eli McClinton, Belleville East, sr.
- Trent Calvert, Wesclin, sr.
- Jordan Ellis, O’Fallon, jr.
- Zac Cawvey, Collinsville, jr.
- Jake Koenig, O’Fallon, sr.
- Noah Williams, Freeburg, jr.
- Logan Doerr, Gibault, jr.
- Ethan Miracle, Edwardsville, jr.
- Caden Gordon, Waterloo, sr.
- Lucas Wobbe, Central, sr.
- GK: Michael Hoelting, Edwardsville, sr.
(players listed in alphabetical order)
- Zane Baker, Collinsville; Alex Barton, Columbia; Kaleb Bassett, Belleville West; Dillon Birdsong, Althoff; Autin Borri, Triad; Jake Bridges, Columbia; Devin Chambers, Belleville East; Kenyon Davis, O’Fallon; Levi Davis, Alton; Jay Detmer, Central; Kyle Frerker, Mascoutah; Stone Galloway, Althoff; Austin Gavlick, Collinsville (GK); Aaron Grohmann, Gibault; Charlie Harres, Columbia; Daniel Hentz, Edwardsville; Evan Herman, Highland; Lane Hoelscher, Mascoutah; Tyler Hitpas, Mater Dei; Autin Huang, Edwardsville; Mitchell Kidd, Althoff; Ben Koenig, O’Fallon; Hunter Kruep, Central; Noah Landers, Metro-East Lutheran; Luke Liljegren, Collinsville; Colin Lombardi, Alton; Nate Martin, O’Fallon; Tyler McCauley, Granite City; Alec Mills, Edwardsville; Joey Morrissey, Alton; Jacob Mulvihill, Edwardsville; Reiss Naylor, Triad; Connor Olson, Gibault (GK); Trey Przybysz, Collinsville; Nick Sikora, Highland; Eli Skubish, Father McGivney; Drew Tonnies, Mater Dei; Hunter Vetter, Central (GK); Kyle Wright, Edwardsville.