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Cain, Armoska enjoy fine art of smack talk

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(Michael Krabbenhoeft/mkrabbenhoeft@saukvalley.com)
Rock Falls' Steven Armoska, SVM's player of the year, has unique friendship with Oregon's Alex Cain. The two will play against each other in tonight's SVM All-Star Classic.

When recent Rock Falls grad Steven Armoska scored 43 points against IVC this past Dec. 14, a text was waiting for him soon after the game.

It was from Oregon's Alex Cain.

"When he dropped 43 points, I had to give him a little jab, asking him if he ever passed the ball," Cain said with a smile.

"We talk a lot of crap to each other," Armoska said. "Whoever has the best game gets to talk the most crap."

Cain and Armoska will have the chance to earn personal bragging rights when they compete in the SVM All-Star Classic today at Sauk Valley Community College. The 6-foot-4 Cain will suit up for the Telegraph squad, while Armoska, also 6-4, will play for the Gazette side.

They crossed paths in youth basketball and baseball leagues, camps and tournaments, and became friends in the process. Their friendship solidified during high school, especially when Rock Falls made the jump to the Big Northern Conference 2 years ago, and the Rockets and Hawks crossed paths more often.

Armoska speaks fondly of their baseball meetings in the spring of 2012. Cain struck him out twice in a regular-season game, and let him know about it. It went a bit differently in a regional game later that season.

"I hit a double off the fence," Armoska said, "and then I hit one about 450 feet. I just smiled the whole time, knowing that I got him back from striking me out before."

Armoska had another great experience this past season, indirectly involving Cain. The Rockets put an 18-3 beating on the Hawks, and Armoska made sure to say hello to Cain whenever he reached second base. When not pitching, Cain plays shortstop for Oregon.

"I think he was on second base every inning, so I got to talk to him the whole time there," Cain said. "I was just worrying about where the ball was going to come off the bat next, and hoping we could get an out sometime soon."

The pair will be heading their separate ways next season. Cain will play baseball at Eastern Illinois, while Armoska's plans are still up in the air.

He's deciding between Edgewood College, a Division III school in Madison, Wis., and Sauk Valley. He hopes to play basketball and baseball in college, and he plans to wait and see who the Skyhawks hire as their new baseball coach before making any decision.

For now, Cain and Armoska are eager to lace up their basketball sneakers one last time as high schoolers.

"I'm just really looking forward to the last time I really get to play a competitive game, until I get to college," Cain said.

Cain file

High school: Oregon

College: Eastern Illinois

FYI: Batted .447 with 27 runs scored and 10 doubles for Hawks. Also won six games with sparkling 1.56 ERA on the mound. ... Averaged 8.7 points for basketball team

Armoska file

High school: Rock Falls

College: Undecided

FYI: SVM basketball player of the year averaged 21.1 points per game as senior. ... Led area with 39 RBIs and seven home runs. ... Also top wide receiver for football team

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