IBCA All-Star Games
PONTIAC — Brian Holman tried to find ways to stop Anna Murray for three years and didn’t have much luck. He found having on her on his side was a lot better than the other side.
The Hall coach got the luxury of coaching the Class 1A-2A North squad in the IBCA All-Star Game featuring both Murray, the Princeton star, as well as neighboring all-stars Lexi Loftus of LaMoille/Ohio and Paige Veronda of Putnam County.
That North Central Illinois contingent took part in the North’s 88-80 victory of the South in Saturday’s IBCA battle at Pontiac High School. They combined for 14 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks.
“It was a great experience overall,” Holman said.
“I think the girls really enjoyed it, and our coaching staff had a great time,” said Holman, who was assisted by Byron head coach Eric Yerly, a Hall alum, and Hall assistant, T.J. Orlandi. “Nice to see Murray doing the same things to other teams that she did with us.”
Murray, who led the local trio with eight points along with three rebounds and one assist, especially appreciated being able to play with Loftus and Veronda when Holman put them on the floor together for the final seven minutes of the game.
“It was a really cool experience getting to play with and against talented players from Illinois,” she said. “Out of those talented players, I was able to play with Lexi and Paige who usually I am competing against normally in season. Three players from the IV getting to play in an All-Star game. We were all having a good time playing our last high school game.”
Murray, who will play at Elmhurst College next year, liked having Holman as coach.
“Even though Hall is considered our rival, I have always respected coach Holman,” she said. “Playing Hall, you always knew it was going to be a battle. He deserves the recognition of being chosen to coach an all star team!”
The all-star game experience fulfilled a desire for Loftus to play alongside Murray, having met twice as seniors.
“It was great to play with her. We have both talked about how awesome it would be to be on the same team in the past, so it was fun to make that happen this weekend,” she said.
Loftus had five points and five rebounds with a block while Veronda added three rebounds with one point.
Eureka’s Tessa Leman (12) and Natalie Bardwell (11), who have showcased their talents in the Lady Bruins Christmas Classic at St. Bede, combined for 23 points to lead the North to victory.
Landwehr named MVP
Two members of Annawan’s boys state runners-up team, Owen Landwehr (18) and Ben Buresh (14), reunited and combined for 32 points to lead the Class 1A/2A North to a 118-98 victory. Landwehr was named as game MVP.
Landwehr, the 2018 BCR Player of the Year out of Mineral, said it was an honor to play with some of the best players in the state.
“I truly enjoyed getting to know and play with my teammates who were once my opponents. Earning MVP was a tremendous honor to me. For all the hard work I have put into the game, to get this award on my last high school game was unbelievable,” he said.
Landwehr plans to attend Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago and major in engineering and play basketball.
• Notes: Veronda and Murray both had family ties with their father, Doug (‘87), and brother, Michael (2011), respectively, playing in past IBCA All-Star Games. ... In the 3A-4A Games, the South boys won 129-121, while the North girls rolled to a 104-72 rout.