On a night when he shot the lights out, the MVP award in the 37th News Journal All-Star Basketball Classic went to the kid with the perfect form and the perfect name.
His team trailing the South 26-22, Plymouth’s Tyson Beebe scored 14 points — 12 of them on four 3-pointers — during a 19-6 run that gave the North the lead for good in Thursday’s 94-89 win before a near-capacity crowd at Lexington High School.
Beebe finished with a game-high 19 points to win a close battle for MVP honors with Plymouth teammate Tyrell Edmiston, who finished with a double-double (14 points, 12 rebounds) for the North.
“There’s always a ball in that dude’s hands,” Edmiston said of Beebe. “I’ve never seen anyone love basketball as much as he does.”
Edmiston had two dunks. That’s if you don’t count the four he made before the game to win a dunk contest against Ontario’s Brad Garverick, Mansfield Senior’s Naradain James, Ashland’s Brett Vipperman and J.R. Smith of the Richland County Bears, whose team helped kick off Thursday’s doubleheader with a victory in a Special Olympics showdown with the Ashland County Dragons.
It was that kind of night for the Plymouth Big Red and their faithful. A dunk MVP, a game MVP and co-credit for the victory to Plymouth head coach Troy Keene and assistant Dane Kennedy, who ran practice two days while Keene was involved in games with the school’s softball teams.
Beebe looked nothing like a shooter who missed the first two practices himself because of baseball commitments.
“I was in gym class shooting around (this week) and I thought ‘Man, my shot is off,'” Beebe said. “But when the game got here I knew I would be ready to go.”
Ironically, one of Beebe’s only misses in the first half was on a beautiful pass to him right under the basket from Edmiston. Apparently, the star of the show was too close.
“We make fun of each other all the time,” Edmiston said, “especially when one of us misses on a sweet pass.”
Still feeling it in the second half, Beebe hit his fifth triple to push the North’s lead back out to 71-63. Next time down court he got really bold and launched one that would have been good from beyond the NBA 3-point line. It glanced off the side of the rim but Edmiston grabbed the rebound and Beebe drove the lane for a feed from his buddy and his easiest bucket of the night.
“Basketball’s always been my best sport,” said Beebe, who will continue his career and study early childhood education at Heidelberg University. “I didn’t play football my junior year because I wanted to get better in basketball. I was always working on my game, whether it was in the backyard with my brother or with Tyrell.”
Keene wasn’t worried about Beebe recapturing his stroke after shifting gears to baseball.
“I knew he’d be fine,” Keene said. “He’d only been done with basketball for a week-and-half, so he’s been playing competitively longer than a lot of these guys.”
Beebe, who earned honorable mention All-Ohio, and Edmiston, a first-team All-Ohioan, led Plymouth to a school-record 25 wins and berth in the regionals. Edmiston scored 1,670 points in his career and Beebe finished with 1,603, which ranks second and third on the school’s all-time list behind Brook Turson, who graduated five years ago with over 2,000.
Most people handicapping the Classic MVP race would have picked the flashier and do-everything Edmiston to become the first to capture the trophy from Plymouth.
“I’m not going to say he played under my shadow,” Edmiston said. “We’ve been through a lot together (including scoring their 1,00th point on back-to-back possessions last season). I’m just the guy who dunks the ball and people think that’s cool.”
When Beebe ignited that torrid first half stretch by the North, Keene knew his team was in good shape.
“I’ve seen him do that a couple of times,” said Keene, who played in the 1986 Classic for Plymouth. “It’s all based on his first shot. If he hits the first one, he’s rolling. If he misses, he starts questioning himself.
“Hit that first one and he’s golden.”
The Classic 3-point record of eight, set by 2011 MVP Tyler Lilly of Mansfield Christian, is safe for another year. Lilly was in attendance Thursday night to watch his cousin, Colonel Crawford’s Todd Entenmann.
The area leader this season with 91 triples, Entenmann settled for two Thursday night. He knew the way Beebe came out firing it was going to be hard to steal his teammate’s thunder — or his cousin’s record.
“I wanted to tie (the record); that would have been pretty cool” Entenmann said after joining Lilly for a family picture on the court. “But it’s no big deal. I love shooters; it doesn’t matter who’s hot.”
On this night, the hot hand belonged to the player with the gunner’s name.