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Boys basketball: Using hoops to prepare for gridiron

Eastland's Skylar Paulson goes up against Indian Creek's Garrison Govig Friday night.
Eastland's Skylar Paulson goes up against Indian Creek's Garrison Govig Friday night.

Kameron DawTyne has spent his summer days working on the farm.

Skylar Paulson has been doing manual labor at Lake Carroll.

In their free time, they've both spent time working out and staying in shape for the fall, when both will be taking their talents to different colleges to play football.

On Wednesday night, they were together with the rest of the Gazette All-Star team practicing for tonight's SVM All-Star Classic.

The All-Star squad was scrimmaging against a who's who group of former Eastland Cougar stars including Tony Dunlap Jr., Ty Hartman and Colin Macomber.

"This is pretty cool," DawTyne said. "It's not easy to get people together for a game of five-on-five like this, much less get so many good players together. Eastland has a great tradition, so even not going here, you know who these players are."

The Milledgeville graduate will be taking his talents to Aurora University this fall for football. He was the primary ballhandler last winter for a good Missiles basketball team.

He'll be joined by fellow Milledgeville classmate Caleb Skoog.

There are two Cougars on the team in Paulson and Dalton Shaner, who was SVM's basketball player of the year.

The Missiles and Cougars played a couple tight games this past season, including a regional semifinal won by Eastland.

Despite that rivalry, these players have a bond that extends beyond city limits.

"I've played with a lot of these kids on different AAU teams," DawTyne said. "So it's not even that different to play with them."

They also played on the same team in the Northwest Illinois Sports Hall of Fame All-Star game earlier this month in Lanark. They were joined by Gazette teammate Matt Dail from Fulton on that team in a victory.

"We came out shooting super hot in that game," Paulson said. "I don't know if we can shoot quite that well again. Plus, there'll more kids from bigger schools, which should make it more difficult."

Paulson, who is heading to McKendree University, where he'll major in sports science and play football, has been playing quite a bit of basketball.

He and Shaner have been playing in a league once a week in Mount Carroll, and he joins the Eastland alums in pickup games most every Wednesday.

"I am actually in pretty good basketball shape," Paulson said. "I've been lifting a lot for football, and playing basketball a couple times a week."

Paulson, who is 6-foot-2, will likely be the Gazette's most physical player in the post. Skoog (6-5) and Dail (6-5) are both taller, but tend to play farther away from the hoop.

"It should be a lot of fun," Paulson said. "You get to play against some different players, and with some different players. We'll have fun, and hopefully play the best that we can."

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