All-Star Thursday for high school hoopsters
Last night was a basketball coach’s dream in the GPRC gym.
The best senior high school players from the Peace region faced off in an all-star game.
“It just gives these guys one more shot at playing for some of these guys who aren’t going to go on after high school,” said Wolves men’s basketball coach Chris Nicol. “This is the pinnacle of it after provincials. I think No. 1, it gives us the chance to celebrate the sport. It also gives us the chance to look at the best kids in the region and getting them into a Wolves jersey to see if they like the fit ... and they like the fit.”
For GPRC coaches Nicol and Wolves women’s coach Kim Gravengard, the all-star game means a little more. It gives them a chance to evaluate the local talent pool and how players from within the region might benefit their team.
Both the men’s and women’s programs have big holes to fill.
The women’s team will be without key veterans Melissa Buhler, Erin Slemp and Leah MacNeil next year.
On the men’s side, ACAC leading scorer Khas Tokar is CIS-bound and will play next season with the U of A Golden Bears.
The men’s team will be looking to rebuild after a dismal 5-19 season.
“We’re probably looking at one of each player for sure,” Nicol said. “We’re going to have a pretty big turnout this year so we’re looking for a little bit of everything. We need some size, we need some scoring.”
The women’s team already has one local recruit committed. Andrea Carlyon, who stands tall at 6’2”, will graduate from R.F. Staples Secondary in Westlock this spring and will join the Wolves next season.
“She gets more and more confident every game she plays, so I’m excited to see how she’s going to be for next year,” Gravengard said.
Carlyon and the other players put on a good show.
The white all-star team won the girls game 67-65 after a key shot block in the dying seconds led to a fast break chance for La Crete Public high school guard, Shannyn Schellenberg. She nailed the shot with only 1.5 seconds remaining on the clock to win the game.
“It was a close game, it was exciting and I think it shows the kind of growth and development that basketball is showing in our area,” Gravengard said. “We have a lot of talented players out there with good coaching, great abilities and lots of drive and potential to maybe step up to the next level and become college players.”
Before Schellenberg made the buzzer-beater, the white team had been down by as much as 13 points with 2:30 left in the game.
Schellenberg was named MVP in the game.
Team White also won the boys game, 68-63.
Femi Oluwafemi Ogun, of North Peace Secondary (Fort St, John) and Jordan Osterwerka, of High Level Public, were named co-MVPs in the boys game.
Next up for the all-stars and the Wolves coaching staffs will be the I.D. camp today and tomorrow.
Nicol said 60-70% of the roster decisions are usually be made by the end of the weekend.
While the players will be under close watch from coaches this weekend, last night gave them one more chance to play for fun in front of a crowd.
“I think it was a ton of fun for these guys. You saw them playing hard with big smiles across their faces so it was awesome,” he said.