GRANVILLE — There were some real shooting stars in Saturday’s second annual Illinois Valley All-Star Game at R.M. Germano Gymnasium in Granville.
Ottawa’s Jaleesa Kindred hit her first five shots of the game to fuel a 21-2 South run to build a 32-14 lead. She finished with 24 points on 10 of 15 shooting, leading the South to a 78-57.
In the nightcap, Hall sharp-shooter Brett Fanning was equally as hot, sinking 4 of 5 shots in the first half and 6 of 10 overall in the North’s 113-105 win. L-P’s Jens Soderholm led the North with 22 points.
“This was all good. I appreciate Josh (Nauman) and Putnam County, and the Lockerroom and Country Financial for hosting these games. This is tremendous for the kids,” said St. Bede’s Tom McGunnigal, who coached the North girls for the second straight year.
“I wished more schools would get their girls to participate in this, because it’s so important for them, to be able to say you played in an all-star game years down the road no matter what the areas and where you come from, the girls deserved it and want to get that recognition.”
McGunnigal said he wrote three rules on the board for his South squad before they took the floor — don’t get hurt, score more points than the other team and have fun.
They were able to abide by two of them.
“It could have been any order of priority, but I think having fun was the most important thing, and I think they did that,” McGunnigal said.
Ottawa coach Mike Cooper said he kept it simple assembling his all-star team, which included three of his own Lady Pirates.
“We put in two out of bounds plays, talked a little offense and let them get up and down the court a little bit,” he said. “I just thought they jelled well together, they were unselfish, they passed the ball and did the things they needed to do to be successful.”
He also must have instructed them to put the ball in the basket. The South put the game away by halftime by shooting 19-of-30 from the field to build a 49-27 halftime lead.
“Jalessa hit a couple early, Darian DeVary (El Paso-Gridley) hit a three and I think that just put everybody at ease and that gave us the opportunity to kind of play with a big lead,” Cooper said.
“That game looked like my NCAA bracket,” McGunnigal said with a laugh. “Coop’s girls came out and shot the ball well. It was one and done, because they were making everything. it was an impressive display by them … I thought they came out a little more aggressive than we did, created some turnovers that gave them some easy baskets, but again they were hitting everything. We weren’t getting much going down.”
St. Bede’s Mo Dean, the BCR Player of the Year, was up to her old tricks, knocking down 10 of 15 shots to lead the North with 21 points. She also called for a three-point shot late in the game, but missed.
“I told her it was her last game in a St. Bede uniform so she better take advantage of it,” McGunnigal said with a laugh.
Princeton’s Makenzey Wilson’s star also shined, especially in the second half in which she netted 11 of her game’s 13 points.
The boys: While the boys’ game did not have the offensive firepower of the 2012 inaugural event in which a total of 173 points were scored and 95 three-point shots were attempted, there were plenty of highlights.
The North built a 59-49 halftime lead behind the fire power of Soderholm (14) and Fanning (10), who combined for 24 points.
“We were in catch-up mode the whole game and every time we had a run to get close, they would get a run to extend the lead again,” said PC coach Josh Nauman, who directed the South squad.
The North squad truly represented the best of the Illinois Valley with the likes of L-P’s Soderholm teaming up with Hall’s Fanning (16 points), Mendota’s Trae Blumhorst (16 points) and Troy O’Sadnick (7) and St. Bede’s Joe Pyszka (17 points), Damin Smith (11) and Brad Groleau (5).
“We had a lot of talent that played well,” North coach Mike Kilmartin of St. Bede said. “The first unit — Fanning, Johnson, Soderholm, Blumhorst, and Pyszka — were on pace to score 190 points when taken out. We had fun, it was well organized and ran. Thanks to all that made this possible.”
PC seniors Xavier Warren and Cody Veronda got to play in front of the home crowd one more time. Veronda was one of five South players to net double figures, scoring 10 points.
Top scorers for the South were Bodee Schlipf (17) of El Paso-Gridley and Kyle Crowley (16) of Fieldcrest, two rivals from the Heart of Illinois Conference.
“Seemed like everyone had a great time. The crowd seemed to be a lot more into the game last year. I think everyone still enjoyed it though,” Nauman said.
• The night also featured a coed Three-Point Contest. Hall’s Brett Fanning made 12 out of 15 attempts to win the boys side, then knocked down 13 of 15 to beat the girls winner, Ottawa’s Kindred, who had made 7 of 15.