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Local

All-Stars bring fun brand of basketball

The Telegraph's Kyle Schmitt (left) guards the Gazette's Ryan Blackburn on a fast break during the the SVM All-Star Classic Thursday evening at Sauk Valley Community College. The boys' game was an up-and-down thriller that featured everything from speedy guards slashing through the lane, to big men stepping out and hitting 3s.
The Telegraph's Kyle Schmitt (left) guards the Gazette's Ryan Blackburn on a fast break during the the SVM All-Star Classic Thursday evening at Sauk Valley Community College. The boys' game was an up-and-down thriller that featured everything from speedy guards slashing through the lane, to big men stepping out and hitting 3s.

You knew you were in for a different kind of game from the first possession.

The Telegraph boys, sending a starting lineup onto the floor consisting of four guys from Newman and a guy named Newman, brought the ball up court and Eli Leffelman immediately checked it with Logan Pillars.

Mind you, this is not a half-court game. He did not have to do that.

Pillars obliged, sending the ball right back. If this were a serious game, both would have been hit with turnovers in the official scorer’s book, but hey, this is more for fun.

And it was pretty fun to watch, as Kyle Schmitt tried to hit deeper and deeper 3s, Pillars tried to hit a few of his own from very long range, and Myles Williams and Dimitric Young drove to the basket time and time again.

It was a fun time throughout, seemingly even for the coaches. One asked mid-game what the All-Star Classic record for 3-pointers was. The other wandered to the scorer’s table to ask if maybe there would be a running clock with a 20-point lead in this game. (Coincidently, his team had just taken a 20-point lead.)

Ray Sharp, handling coaching duties for the Telegraph squad, at one point asked Gazette and Rock Falls player Garret Winfield if he was about to check into the game. He wanted to set his defense.

Sharp asked later when Winfield sat down near the aisle next to the scorer’s table, and Winfield’s answer was “I can if you want me to.”

The result was a rollicking full-throttle game where the score climbed higher and higher, up until the point where people started to run out of gas. In the early moments of the game, where the starting lineups consisting of four Newman Comets on one side and four Sterling Golden Warriors on the other, was action-packed, fast-paced, up-and-down-the-court basketball.

It’s the kind that produces a lot of great trips down the floor – and some not so great ones – but a lot of shots going up and plenty falling down.

There is more than one way to play the game, and though the cautious, defense-first, gtry-not-to-turn-the-ball-over type of basketball has its adherents, this up-tempo way to wow the crowd is perfect for a game like this.

And it resulted in points. Many, many points. It nearly resulted in a triple-double. Ultimately, it results in players seeing what they can do out there.

Can a big man hit a 3? Actually, yes.

Can Pillars hit a 3-pointer left-handed? Yes.

Can Young hit a shot while driving down the lane, getting fouled and flipping the ball up in the air as he was falling down? Amazingly, yes.

It was an interesting counter-point to the girls game where it was seemingly all-out defense. Granted, the shots simply weren’t falling, but the effort on the defensive end was very much there, with blocked shot after blocked shot, Emma Melton often fighting her way to a loose ball, Laci Meurer slamming into the scorer’s table to go after a loose ball, and a sequence where Melton came away with a steal only to have Bryce Gittleson chase her down and get the ball back.

Any time both were on the floor at the same time, there were battles in the low post on both ends of the floor between Dixon’s Ellie Provo and Morrison’s Kassidee Church.

That kind of effort is fun to watch.

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