All-Star hoopsters enjoy final prep action
CACHE After the Small School All-Stars hit the floor, the Middle and Large School All-Stars soaked in the limelight at Cache High School on Tuesday night.
In an evening full of comradery and pickup basketball, there were plenty of laughs to go around followed by cheery team pictures after each game.
One All-Star, Lybbee Graham (Small West) of Carnegie, perfectly summed up what All-Star night meant to all the players.
"I've been playing against these girls for years upon years so I'm close with them," Graham said. "It was so much fun to finally play together for once."
West 59, East 58"
Middle School Boys
Most players aren't in basketball shape like they were two months ago. Senior Jake Toahty, who helped lead Cyril to the Class A semifinals in March, was winded and spent halftime hunched over a trash can sick.
"I haven't run this much in a long time," Middle West All-Star Toahty laughed while telling his three West teammates Michael Bailey, Caleb Hutson and Toby Denny of Chattanooga.
Toahty scored six first half points and the three Musketeers from Chattanooga did the rest in the second half, leading the West All-Stars to a 59-58 victory over the East.
The East took a 30-22 halftime lead thanks to a 12-0 spurt and 12 first half points from Hayden Savage of Amber-Pocasset.
Denny drilled back-to-back 3-pointers followed up by a tough and-1 to give West a 53-52 lead with 2:30 left following his own 9-0 run.
Then his teammates joined the parade as Bailey scored back-to-back layups to give West a 57-52 lead with 1:30 remaining.
East tied the game at 58 with seconds left thanks to a foul from beyond the arc, but it only foreshadowed at what was to come.
The ball was inbounded to Denny, who heaved a full court shot while being fouled. Indiahoma coach Zac Gipson, who coached the Small School West All-Stars, couldn't help but chuckle while standing under the hoop.
Only a couple months ago on this very court, Gipson had witnessed Denny do the exact same thing with only a few more seconds left on the clock. Denny had made all three free throws to force overtime, but Indiahoma's Chad Robinson erased Denny's heroics with a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer, handing Chatty a 67-65 overtime loss in the Class B, Area III tournament.
Denny and his teammates couldn't help but laugh afterwards at history repeating itself only this time with a happier twist ending.
"We expected Toby to come up with something on the last play," Hutson grinned.
Hutson and Bailey, two of Denny's best friends, were instrumental in uplifting Denny's spirits after his bulging disc surgery last fall.
"We got off to a slow start without Toby, but it was so much fun to give him heck and watch him battle back from the injury," Hutson said. "In the end, it worked out."
The three Warriors plan to remain close even as high school basketball fades away. Denny and Hutson will attend Oklahoma State together for degrees in horticulture and ag-business, respectively, while Bailey will attend USAO in Chickasha for engineering.
"Caleb and I aren't the best players but Toby's got our back and trusts us to take any shot on the court," said Bailey who will play one-on-one with Denny five days a week. "We love playing with each other."
Denny was named All-State by the Oklahoma Coaches Association last month, a well-deserved honor for the Chattanooga star.
"All-State is something I've been shooting for, for a long time," Denny said. "It's a big honor to cap it off with all the work and effort put into it, but I love playing with my teammates. I've never been so tight with anybody on or off the court."
West 45, East 30
Large School Girls
Just days after propelling the Altus girls to a fifth place finish in the mile relay at the Class 5A State track and field meet in Yukon, West All-Star Nia Hill kept running this time for the basket.
Altus' Hill sprinted to the tin for a layup off the opening tip before scoring a transition layup and burying a 3-pointer. Hill scored the first 11 points for the West All-Stars in a 45-30 romping over the East.
The Lady Eagles from Eisenhower, who made their second straight 5A State tournament appearance this season, did the rest.
Jaeda Reed scored eight points, Destinee Rush scored all seven of hers in the first half, Delecia Brown scored five, Gena Rogers chipped in two and Jada Laster got involved on defense to put a bright smile on West coach Daniel Wall's face as he coached his quintet of senior Eagles for the final time.
"After four years and all the dedication they've given to the program and what we've fought through together, this was real special," Wall said. "I'm gonna miss them."
Rush snagged a steal and a layup at the halftime buzzer for a 26-9 lead after she had scored courtesy of a steal from Rogers, who won the 5A long jump title at the state track and field meet last weekend.
"It hasn't hit me yet that I'm really done," said Rogers who will play basketball at Western Oklahoma State with Brown. "I don't know how I'll really feel in a week."
Brown assisted to Reed, who will play at Texas State, inside for a 20-7 lead as the Eagles showcased their teamwork again.
It was a special evening for three other West All-Stars, Ashley Turner, Kaylie Walker and Sydney Bolin, who were all playing their final game on their home court in Cache, a place where they made several memories together.