MARION, Ind. — Most high school basketball All-Star games are free from pressure, with nothing on the line. That’s what made Sunday’s North-South Classic at Indiana Wesleyan quite unique.
The Indiana boys All-Star team has not been announced. In fact, the unveiling of the team for the annual series with Kentucky was postponed so those in charge of the selection could get one last glance at the worthy candidates.
Marquette Catholic’s Ryan Fazekas, bound for Providence, made the most of his last-look, last-chance audition, scoring 25 points. So did Brownsburg’s K.J. Walton, who totaled 22 while leading the South to a 98-91 victory. South swept the games as Miss Basketball Ali Patberg powered her team to an 83-81 win over the North.
Fazekas, a 6-foot-8 forward, averaged 21.5 points per game as a senior. He’s one of those fingered as a can’t-miss selection. But outside of Mr. Basketball Caleb Swanigan, nothing is guaranteed. Fazekas missed the annual Top 60 Workout, another tool for the All-Star staff and coaches to evaluate talent, at Marian University. He was in Italy on vacation for 10 days.
So he was taking nothing for granted.
“I just came out and played my game, had fun,” Fazekas said. “But I did have it in the back of my mind. To be honest I don’t think I could ever do enough. In the back of my head I feel like I left some things at Marquette and could have done more. But I’m proud of what I did.
“I don’t know how they pick it. I just showed what I do.”
If a handful of spots on the Indiana All-Star squad are still in play, Sunday’s game did little to separate some. Greensburg’s Ryan Welage had 12 points and 7 rebounds while Park Tudor’s Bryce Moore had 11 for the victorious South.
Logansport’s Carter Skaggs had 12 and Pike’s Tahjai Teague added 11 for the North.
Purdue recruit Ryan Cline, the Carmel star and the biggest name in the game, had 9 points. But he could sense the unspoken angst. “This was a lot more competitive,” Cline said. “But it’s for them to decide.”
If All-Star games are all fun and giggles, the girls didn’t get that memo.
Winning time meant Bedford North Lawrence’s Jenna Allen, Dominique McBryde and Alexa Bailey were on the court, along with Patberg. They have been teammates – and rivals – for countless games during their high school and AAU careers, which are now drawing to a close.
So one more time, they banded together, to win.
Patberg scored 26 points, McBryde totaled 13 and Allen added 12, powering the South to the triumph over the North. They made the important plays as the South battled back from a four-point deficit in the final four minutes.
Even on a spring Sunday, even during an All-Star contest that was more ceremonial than serious, they took winning personally. With the outcome on the line, Allen scored from point-blank range (via a McBryde pass), McBryde slashed to a fast-break layup (off a Patberg assist), and Paterg hit two free throws for the winning points with 29.2 seconds left.
“I’m a winner, I like to win,” Allen said. “So winning and losing does matter. Our total mentality changed. We wanted to win.”
The South, with the BNL trio, Patberg and Butler-bound Tori Schikel in the starting lineup, had the dominant stars. When they were together for their five-minute segments, they built leads. When they sat as South boss and Mooresville coach Mark Hurt did his best to evenly distribute minutes among the 12-player roster, the South advantage usually disappeared.
The South built its largest lead at 71-63 late in the second half. McBryde cruised to a layup and Patberg stole the ensuing inbound pass for an easy score and the eight-point cushion. Then the starters departed. North caught up in only 1:14.
The North, with six future Indiana All-Stars on its roster compared to the South’s five, had better balance. Dejah Cyrus , a Marion star playing at home, scored 11 points. Darby Maggard and Brittany Ward, who will wear “Indiana” against Kentucky in June, added 10 apiece. North’s bench outscored the South 49-26.
That kept the North within range. It also kept the South studs engaged.
“If you want to be one of those players that is a great competitor, you always want to win,” McBryde said. “You always have that fire.”
Patberg, headed for Notre Dame, added 8 rebounds and 6 assists.
Justin Sokeland can be followed on Twitter at @golfguru55
South (83) – Jenna Allen 12, Dominique McBryde 13, Ali Patberg 26, Tori Schickel 6, Sarah Corbin 2, Olivia Crozier 6, Samantha Dewey 4, Sydney Hall 3, Allison Schofield 6, Regan Wentland 5.
North (81) – Jordyn Franz 8, Darby Maggard 10, Madeline Raster 4, Brittany Ward 10, Dejah Cyrus 11, Josie Fisher 9, Grace German 1, Tiajaney Hawkins 8, Michal Miller 8, Nakeya Penny 8, Brooke Saylor 4.
South (98) – Ryan Cline 9, Sean McDermott 8, Derrik Smits 8, K.J. Walton 22, Dylan Windler 2, Michael Benkert 6, Ryan Curry 6, Brennan Gillis 5, Bryce Moore 11, Trevor Waite 9, Ryan Welage 12.
North (91) – Devin Cannady 10, Austin Compton 3, Ryan Fazekas 25, Tahjai Teague 11, Chandler White 10, Wes Davidson 2, Hyron Edwards 10, Joey Morlan 8, Carter Skaggs 12.