narrowly defeat North, 71-67
Salinas – During any normal basketball game, a pass from Gilroy point guard Dominic Wilkins to San Benito guard Daryl Baladad or Live Oak guard Micah Jones would be considered a turnover. As would a dish from Gilroy guard Katherine Hussey to Live Oak forward Mattie Borges.
But not at Saturday’s 20th Annual Kiwanis North/South All-Star Basketball Classic, which featured the top high school seniors from Monterey, San Benito, Santa Cruz and South Santa Clara counties. For one last high school game, senior players from Gilroy, Live Oak and San Benito put rivalries aside and joined forces on the court at Hartnell College for the North All-Stars.
“It’s been really good. We used to hate those guys,” laughed Gilroy forward Ryan Chisolm, this year’s TCAL MVP and starter for the North boys. “But it’s been fun to play against them and come out and just have fun and joke around.”
The North boys All-Stars, which included Chisolm and Wilkins from Gilroy, Jones from Live Oak and Baladad from Hollister, scored 55 first-half points en route to a 95-81 win over the South. The North girls’ All-Star team, which had TCAL seniors Borges and Colleen Henningsen of Live Oak and Nina Blas, Kristen Campos, Sara Griffis, Hussey and Marissa Nowakowski of Gilroy, ultimately fell to the South 71-67 despite taking an early 10-point lead in the first half. TCAL Coaches of the Year Kari Williams and Bud Ogden, both from Gilroy, were selected to coach the North teams.
Though the final score of the boys’ game indicated a much closer contest, the North dominated the South from the opening tip. When the South called a timeout with 6:08 to play in the first half, the North held a very lopsided 42-9 lead.
“It’s the last game, the All-Star game,” Wilkins said, explaining the North’s explosive first half. “You gotta make it fun.” The Gilroy guard finished with nine points. Fellow Mustang Chisolm chipped in six points.
Baladad contributed four points.
The team built the lead largely in part to good ball movement and the hot hand of Jesse LoBue of 2005 California state champ Santa Cruz and Jones, who had three 3-pointers during the game despite battling the flu.
“I don’t know, I really like this floor, I guess,” joked Jones (15 points) after the game.
LoBue’s consistent shooting continued and in the final minute of the game, he broke the Basketball Classic’s scoring record of 36 points. The Santa Cruz star sank two free throws with 24.6 seconds remaining to finish with a game-high 38 points.
In the girls’ game, TCAL MVP Hussey finished with a game-high 26 points. But even that effort wasn’t enough to help lift the North over the South, which had a significant size advantage in the post over its northern opponents. Five-foot-eleven Gilroy senior Jessica Groppe, who was selected as an All-Star, couldn’t play in the game because of a previous commitment. That left 5-foot-9 Borges and 5-foot-8 Griffis to battle in the post for the North.
“I thought it was cool how we were down by 15 at the half and came back to lose by four,” said Campos, who fired in three three-pointers and finished with 13 points. “We haven’t even played as a team, really. I thought we did well.”
But what mattered to the players more than the final scores was the experience of one final high school game.
“It’s fun to have another opportunity to continue playing after the season. It makes it feel like it’s not over,” Hussey said.
Added Chisolm, “It was fun. I enjoyed my high school career.”
Nowakowski (6 points) and Blas (4 points) also contributed for the North girls.
Ana Patejdl is the sports editor of the Gilroy Dispatch. She can be reached at [email protected]