Posted Online: April 29, 2012, 9:31 pm
The best of LTC basketball enjoy final chance to suit up in inaugural All-Star Classic
Comment on this story
By Terry Duckett, firstname.lastname@example.org
KEWANEE -- When the prep basketball season wrapped up in late February and early March, many area seniors figured they would be hanging up their uniforms for good.
But for several of the Lincoln Trail Conference's top senior girls' and boys' cagers, the opportunity to suit up and hit the court one more time presented itself Sunday with the first LTC All-Star Classic at Kewanee's National Guard Armory.
Annawan forward Jordan Jackson was the first girls' Most Valuable Player, with her 14 points and 13 rebounds helping the North All-Stars to a 71-35 victory over the South squad. Galva guard Austin Ingels was the inaugural boys' MVP as he drained six 3-pointers and tallied 26 points in the North's 72-64 win.
"I felt honored to be able to play for `Burk' (Annawan coach Jason Burkiewicz, who guided the North girls' squad) and with (teammates) Kirsten (Randall) and Riley (Jackson) one more time,'' said Jackson. "And, all of us on the team had a good connection; we were all friends long before this.''
Being a part of the first group of players to participate in the All-Star Classic also provided everyone concerned with a little extra incentive.
"For me, it's cool to be the first girl to represent Mercer County in this, and it's good that I was able to get our name out there,'' said Bailey Krstic, who was the Golden Eagles' top scorer this past winter with 15.5 points per game. "And I definitely missed basketball, so I was so happy to get to play. I wasn't ready to move on, and I'm glad I got this last chance.''
Fellow Golden Eagle Colton Wood, who averaged more than 19 points a night for the Mercer County boys' cagers, echoed his classmate's sentiments.
"After our last game, I thought that was it,'' he said. "I'd heard other leagues had games like this, and I was wondering why (the LTC) didn't. It was fun to play once more, and I hope I can come back here and watch my little brother play in this game in about three years.''
One of the elder statesmen of LTC coaches, Biggsville West Central head coach Brad Jackson, feels that the All-Star Classic is something that was long overdue. Coaching the South boys, the former Westmer and Aledo boys' coach and AlWood girls' coach had as much fun as his players did.
"Obviously, getting the chance to take the best of the best and run 'em up and down the floor, it's a lot of fun. It's kind of what you dream of when you see these kids all year and wonder what could happen if you get this and that kid together,'' Jackson stated. "This needed to happen, and it was a long time coming.''
Jackson was also quick to credit Galva coach Chance Jones (who also coached the North squad) and ROWVA coach Jason Lydic, the event's organizers, and expressed the hope that the LTC All-Star Classic takes root and continues to grow.
"They both deserve credit for making this happen,'' he said. "It's something they need to make sure becomes a yearly event.''
- Girls: North 71, South 35: The North All-Stars established their dominance early, with a pair of Jordan Jackson treys and 3-pointers from Wethersfield's Kayla Bennett and Ridgewood's Annie Gelaude fueling an early 20-3 run. By halftime, the North was up 49-19, and five players went on to score in double figures.
Krstic hit on seven of nine free throws to tally a game-high 15 points, with Gelaude adding 12 points, seven boards and three steals, Bennett netting 11 points and Riley Jackson adding 10. Randall just missed double digits, scoring nine points on three 3-pointers.
- Boys: North 72, South 64: Ingels' efforts from beyond the arc were augmented by Mott's interior play, as the 6-foot-6 standout worked his way to a double-double of 13 points and 14 rebounds. Landis and Wood each chipped in with eight points and Ridgewood's Alex Main added six points and six boards.
However, the South held a 60-51 lead late in the third quarter before Ingels hit a buzzer-beating trey, which ignited the North All-Stars as they went on an 18-4 fourth-period run fueled by a combined 14 points from Ingels and Mott. The North took the lead for good with 3:33 left to play on a bucket by Wethersfield's Devin DeClercq.