As the Telegraph team for the Sauk Valley Media All-Star Classic began its practice at the YMCA in Sterling on Tuesday, the squad broke into a 4-on-4
with one side made up of
Oregon’s Andrew Newman
and three guys who went to Newman.
Newman coach Ray Sharp said he might deploy that Newman and the Newman guys lineup for the game itself tonight, pairing the 6-4 guard who averaged 10.4 points per game for the Hawks this past year with Eli Leffelman, Kyle Schmitt, John Wilson and Ethan Hafner.
For the former Comets, the All-Star game means one more chance to play alongside the teammates they had at Newman.
“It’s always nice to step on the basketball court with them once again,” Schmitt said. “I think we know how to play together already with our team chemistry. I think we’ll pass the ball pretty well and get some good shots.”
The former Comets have the bonus of another game with Sharp, the coach who led them to a regional title as juniors and within a point of Winnebago in the regional final their senior year.
“It was great when I was asked,” Sharp said. “I was really honored because you do miss your seniors a lot. We started five seniors this year.”
“We know what Coach Sharp is expecting out of us, and we can take that to the other players who don’t know him as well,” Leffelman said. “I think that is beneficial for us.”
The Newman alumni are not the only players back for one more game with Sharp.
AFC grad Joe Uphoff, who along with Eastland’s Brighton Haverland and Dixon’s David Whitcombe will provide the height for the Telegraph squad, played for Sharp on the Sauk Valley Magic.
“It will be fun,” Uphoff said. “It will be like old times.”
Uphoff will be back on the floor with AFC teammate Stephen Brooke, and will also be teaming up with a former rival, Amboy’s Jordan Hochstatter, but is familiar with a lot of the players from Newman, Oregon and Dixon as well.
“It’s all about building team chemistry,” Uphoff said. “Most of these guys have played AAU, so I know them. As long as we all get along, it should be a fun time.”
Wilson is looking forward to rekindling some of the Three Rivers Conference battles with Prophetstown’s Kody Wetzell and Nate Pierceson, as well as some of the Sterling and Rock Falls players he faced when he was younger.
“Hopefully they all know how to play basketball,” Sharp said. “They’ve played with other people. A lot of them played AAU and stuff like that. A lot of that, you have to do read and react to stuff. We’re not going to put in a bunch of plays or stuff like that.”