Dixon’s Aaron Duncan lived up to his name by taking the slam dunk title.
He opened the contest with a right-handed jam after driving from the left wing. His second dunk saw him start at the top of the key and throw a lob to himself off the backboard before slamming it home.
Another Duke, Beau Bailey, was able to connect on a two-handed dunk, but could not send down a dunk off an alley-oop. Amboy’s Hunter Zimmerly tried to match Duncan’s off-the-backboard dunk, but could not, and also could not slam home a dunk over former teammate Mitchell McLaughlin standing in the lane.
Rock Falls’ Cade Nailor also drafted some help – getting Sterling’s Alek Duran to dribble ahead of him then try an alley-oop between the legs to the trailing Nailor – but the former Rocket could not connect.
Hammer tried to lob the ball to himself off the wall behind the basket, but also could not connect.
Duncan also had a dunk late in the game, slamming one home after a long pass and a drive in from the
“I heard ‘Cherry pick!’ from the bench, and I was like, ‘All right, I’m tired, I’m going to cherry pick,’” he said. “We had a little Tony Parker and Tim Duncan duo real quick. It was fun.”
In the 3-point shootout at halftime of the boys’ game in the Sauk Valley Media All-Star Classic on Thursday, Polo graduate Braiden Soltow grabbed a win by knocking down nine long-range shots.
“I kind of got my rhythm going, but I wasn’t expecting that at all,” he said. “I wasn’t a great shooter during the season. It was nice to come out and get that.”
Erie-Prophetstown’s Josh Hammer and Dixon’s Derian Duncan both knocked down seven shots to tie for second, with Hammer putting up his seven to open the contest and Duncan nearly matching Soltow late in the proceedings.
“Derian got up to seven and I felt a little pressure there,” Soltow said. “I thought he was going to top me, but in the end, I ended up winning, so I was happy.”
Fulton’s Kyle Schipper hit five, AFC’s Calvin Jahn hit four, and Morrison’s Ethan Medenblik hit two.
Newman graduate Jenna Johnson lit things up during the 3-point shootout, sinking six to take top honors on the girls’ side.
Johnson beat Sterling’s Josi Borum by two. AFC’s Alyscia Settles and Erie-Prophetstown’s Jena Saad both hit three 3s, while Rock Falls’ Molly Buck and Bureau Valley’s Saige Barnett both hit two.
“I just went in there thinking I need to make one, I don’t want to make a fool of myself,” Johnson said. “Somehow I ended up pulling through.”
Johnson got off to a quick start, hitting three on the first rack of five balls. She then hit her third and fourth shots on the second rack, and the fourth shot of the final rack.
“I think in the beginning, I was focused more on the flick of my wrist like it was something natural,” Johnson said. “Toward the end, I could feel myself slowly going down, but I did my best.”
Nailor went with a fashion icon look in pregame
warm-ups and in the first quarter with a black Nike tie headband.
“I was trying to get Alek [Duran] and Nate [Wiles] to wear one,” Nailor said. “I told them we have to be different. You can’t just go out there and be normal with everyone else.”
Already blessed with a sometimes unruly crop of blond hair, the addition of the headband gave Nailor a resemblance to Johnny, the character portrayed by Billy Zabka in the 1984 hit film ‘Karate Kid,’ though Nailor said that is not the look he was going for.
By the second quarter however, the headband had been benched.
“I just got really hot,” Nailor said. “I just decided to take it off to cool off a little.”
In the girls’ game, the Gazette team could put three Sterling Golden Warriors on the floor, so Sterling coach Taylor Jackson had a chance to use the Warriors’ 1-3-1 zone with Josi Borum at the top, Gretchen Gould on one wing and Genea Garza under the basket.
“We were just sitting there and our man-to-man wasn’t really working,” Garza said. “Rock Falls knew what our 1-3-1 looked like because we played them and we just had to teach it to some girls, so we made the switch thinking we could get a couple more rebounds that way.”
Next to Gould in the middle of that zone were Fulton’s Rylee Leitzen and Morrison’s Peyton Tegeler.
“It worked, so I think they picked up pretty well,” Garza said.