It was almost by happenstance that Jason Burkiewicz found out he had a chance to become part of Lincoln Trail Conference basketball history.|
An e-mail asking the Annawan High School girls' basketball coach to lend himself to the LTC's inaugural All-Star Classic took him entirely by surprise. With apologies to Vito Corleone -- it was an offer he couldn't refuse.
"I got to school one morning and there was an e-mail asking if I would coach one of the teams,'' said Burkiewicz. "It looked like it'd be a lot of fun, so I called (ROWVA boys' hoops coach) Jason Lydic back, told him it was a good idea and I'd be glad to do it.''
Organized by both Lydic and Galva boys' basketball coach Chance Jones, the girls' and boys' LTC All-Star games will take place today at the Kewanee Armory, hosted by Black Hawk College's East Campus and sponsored by Breedlove's Sporting Goods in Kewanee. The girls' game tips off at 3 p.m., with the boys to follow.
The 11 LTC teams will be divided into North and South squads, with U.S. Highway 34 serving as the dividing line. Seniors who earned spots on the All-LTC first, second and honorable mention teams are eligible to take part. Admission to the twinbill is $5, with babies in arms getting in free.
Burkiewicz will coach the North girls' squad, which includes three members of the Bravettes' 30-2, Class 1A Elite Eight squad -- forward Jordan Jackson and guards Kirsten Randall and Riley Jackson.
"I'd heard nothing about it until I went to school and got that e-mail,'' said Burkiewicz. "A lot of times, you don't know when your final high school game will be. This way, they'll know when their last game is, and I know with the girls on my team, it's going to be competitive. They'll want to win their last game. If it stays close, you're going to see a pretty intense game. It'll give them time to step back and reflect. For some of them, they'll be playing their final game before a crowd, and it's a chance to shine one last time.''
Opposing Burkiewicz will be Galva's Rick Cline, the coach of the South girls' squad. In the boys' game, Jones will guide the North team, with Biggsville West Central's Brad Jackson coaching the South All-Star squad.
- Players to watch: For the North girls, Jordan Jackson is coming off an all-state season in which she averaged a double-double of 10.4 points and 10.2 rebounds per game, with teammate and top outside shooting threat Randall kicking in with 9.5 points, 3.5 steals and 2.5 assists per game.
Mercer County's Bailey Krstic put up 15.5 points per night this past winter, with Wethersfield's Kayla Bennett averaging 13.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.5 steals and 2.5 assists a game. Ridgewood's Ashley Kruger put up 14.5 points and seven rebounds a night, while teammate Annie Gelaude added 13 points, five boards and three assists per game.
The North boys feature such standouts as Galva's 6-foot-6 post threat Kile Mott, whose 14 points and nine rebounds per game were instrumental in the Wildcats' turnaround from six wins in 2010-11 to 22 victories and a sweep of the LTC's regular-season and tournament titles.
Joining Mott will be another top post threat, Wethersfield's Devin DeClercq (10 points, seven rebounds) along with Mercer County's hot-shooting guard Colton Wood, who averaged 19 points and six rebounds and went over 1,000 career points this past season.
LINCOLN TRAIL CONFERENCE ALL-STAR ROSTERS
- North Girls All-Stars: Jordan Jackson, Annawan; Kirsten Randall, Annawan; Riley Jackson, Annawan; Kayla Bennett, Wethersfield; Claire Pillen, Wethersfield; Ashley Kruger, Ridgewood; Annie Gelaude, Ridgewood; Bailey Krstic, Mercer County. Head coach: Jason Burkiewicz, Annawan.
- South Girls All-Stars: Taylor Endress, Stark County; Hannah Morrissey, Stark County; Tayler Stewart, Galva; Taylor Harper, Sciota West Prairie; Ashlynn Winkler, United; Marysa Remick, ROWVA; Megan Foglesong, ROWVA; Bethany Dorrington, Princeville. Head coach: Rick Cline, Galva.
- North Boys All-Stars: Devin DeClercq, Wethersfield; Kile Mott, Galva; Brady Landis, Galva; Jake Warner, Galva; Austin Ingels, Galva; Colton Wood, Mercer County; Alex Main, Ridgewood. Head coach: Chance Jones, Galva.
- South Boys All-Stars: Shane Cavanaugh, Biggsville West Central; Tim Holford, Biggsville West Central; Jake Gavin, United; Christian Schrader, United; Evan McQueen, ROWVA; Austin Schisler, ROWVA; Bryce Paxson, Stark County; Dalton Miller, Stark County; Josh Avery, Princeville; Dustin Fritzenmiller, Princeville. Head coach: Brad Jackson, Biggsville West Central.
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