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SVM All-Star Classic commentary: New additions raise the bar, make staffers proud

Cranking it up to 11

Reilly Roberts (left), an Amboy graduate, and Jacob Dickman, a Dixon grad, perform with the All-Star Pep Band on Thursday at the Sauk Valley Media All-Star Classic at Sauk Valley Community College.
Reilly Roberts (left), an Amboy graduate, and Jacob Dickman, a Dixon grad, perform with the All-Star Pep Band on Thursday at the Sauk Valley Media All-Star Classic at Sauk Valley Community College.

Selectively superstitious, I admit to being worried that the drummer showing up without drumsticks was a bad omen.

But by the middle of the first period, I heard Oregon graduate Sam Feiden anxiously rapping away at his snare drum. Amboy grad Trenton Ely had arrived with his sticks, and the mother of his classmate, Reilly Roberts, also brought a pair.

And with that hiccup remedied, the newest additions to the SVM All-Star Classic made me beam with pride and, occasionally unadulterated nerdhood for the rest of the night.

Fans of Star Wars and John Williams – see Ty Reynolds' Twitter roll (@STy_Reynolds) – alike were geeked to hear a cover of the Cantina Band's hit single that undoubtedly spent a lot of time atop Mos Eisley's Billboard Top 100.

While public address announcer Jake Hubbell would ask for an encore later, he did ask the band to cool it for a few minutes before the second half of the girls game so he could play the Blackhawks' goal song, "Chelsea Dagger" by the Fratellis.

Jake, the voice of the Dukes and Duchesses, did a phenomenal job, and kept the hockey theme going by describing wholesale substitutions as "line changes."

Speaking of hockey, "The Stripper" was a fabulous choice by the band, reminding us hockey and film buffs of the famous scene in "Slap Shot."

Admittedly, my favorite moment was when the pep band cranked out "Mars." While classical music buffs know the piece from "The Planets Suite," I'm reminded of its use in an episode of "The Venture Brothers."

Then it happened. I ran over to double-check the name of the song, and Ely said he'd never heard of "The Venture Brothers," and that he's too young for that. Good thing his fellow Clipper Louie Ohlendorf was there to tell him it's an Adult Swim cartoon.

Yes. I watch cartoons. And there are many, many more of them in my future, with twins on the way.

Another fave of mine was "300 Violin Orchestra," played during the boys warmups.

But I can't spend too much time pumping up the band, because the cheerleaders were equally amazing. When back spot Michael Lotspeich and three bases flipped and rocked Mackenzie Propheter much higher than a guy like me considers safe, I knew it was on.

They dazzled. They waved and smiled and took the whole night to an unprecedented level.

That was the idea, after all. That and to fill the place, and the event did a pretty doggone good job of that.

Oh, and to send the seniors off the right way. These quotes did a pretty nice job of validating that:

"I missed my uniform. I don't want to let it go," Propheter said. "This was amazing."

"I can't wait to come back next year and watch," said Lotspeich, who will cheer at the Universtiy of Illinois-Springfield.

That, honestly, left me speechless.

But no rest for the wicked. Here are a few things we'd be remiss not to consider adding next year:

Bigger groups: The coolest thing about the band and cheerleading squad, is this is only the beginning. I can't wait until the band takes up that entire section and the cheerleading squad outnumbers the basketball players.

Cowbell: Hubbell said it best toward the end of the girls game: "Still waiting on the cowbell, though. I'm just saying." Seriously, guys. What would Bruce Dickinson think?

Superfans: Just before I headed back to press row after chatting with band director Andy Eckardt, I saw the pain in Newman grad Sean McCormick's eyes. He (@Sean_McC25) had been chirping at me all week about the need for an organized superfans group. Next year, we're getting it done, and I'd like to enlist him to be the group's manager.

A decibel meter: Or maybe one of those clap-o-meters from old game shows. We caught some flack for evidently getting the dunk contest wrong. We were in a pocket of Alex Cain supporters and, it sounds like if you sat at halfcourt, the cheers for Jacob Johnston were louder. I know it's crazy to think we got one wrong. That said, I liked Cain's dunk better. Go ahead, throw tomatoes. This is America. It's how I feel.

Wi-Fi, or a change in cell phone service: AT&T hates the Sauk Valley, and I loathe AT&T for that. I'm kind of a Twitter junkie, and felt handcuffed when I couldn't reply to Eastland grads Ty Hartman (@Tyrus_Hartman) and Austin Hansen (@AustinHansen11) as they @-mentioned (is that AP style?) me during the girls' 3-point shootout.

On that last note, Dan Woessner joked during the hoops postseason that I could run for mayor of Lanark and win. I just really enjoyed covering that team, and I think it came through in the writing. But all the kids we got to say goodbye to Thursday night hold a big place in our hearts.

Thanks for making it such a fun school year, folks. This will be a tough act to follow.

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