The South rises again
SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It was important for Luke Eddy to get the win Friday night, but it was also important to prove himself. He succeeded on both accounts.
George Washington's all-state guard poured in a game-high 24 points to boost the South to a 92-81 victory in the North-South All-Star Basketball Classic at the South Charleston Community Center in front of a paid crowd of 550.
Eddy, a 6-foot-1 guard who's headed to Division I Elon (N.C.), also contributed a team-leading four assists along with three steals. He was selected as the South's MVP in a media vote.
"I just came out here and played my hardest,'' Eddy said. "It's the last time I'm going to play high school basketball, so I gave it my all. I scored a lot of points, got the MVP, got the win. It's a good ending.''
Eddy received a lot of scoring support, as five South players cracked double figures. Austin Brewer (Tug Valley) and Angelo Sirianni (Nitro) donated 13 points apiece, and Brett Morris (Webster County) and Josh Martin (Greenbrier West) each tallied 10.
Fairmont Senior's Travon Horton, selected as the North MVP, led his side with 16 points and four assists. Donte' Grantham, the state player of the year from Class AAA champion Martinsburg, added 13 points and seven rebounds.
Eddy was instrumental in helping the South recover from a 41-39 halftime deficit, as it ripped off the first nine points of the second half, prompting a North timeout. Later, an 18-5 South burst bumped the lead to 70-52, capped by a Matt Dolan three-point play at the 11:40 mark.
The North eventually fell behind by as many as 26 points at 89-63 before making a belated run, led by a pair of 3-pointers from Martinsburg's Jalen Lewis (14 points). A 12-0 North surge shaved it back to 89-75 and prompted a South timeout with 2:43 remaining.
The South reinserted three of its starters to help whittle down the clock, and the closest the North could come was 90-81 on a Lewis 3 with 43 seconds left.
"We didn't do the things we were doing in the first half,'' the North's Horton said. "The first half, we were getting to the basket and finishing, and actually getting back and playing defense and not going one-on-one. We played team ball in the first half.
"The second half was a lot of one-on-one, but this is an all-star game and people come out here to have fun and show their talents. That's what happened in the second half when we got back in. We started getting the flow and started moving after the coaches told us. We got a little better and brought the score down.''
Opening some eyes for the South was Brewer, a guard who along with Tug Valley teammate Mikey Newsome is headed to the University of Charleston this fall. Brewer hit 6 of 12 shots and added four assists, two steals and two of the game's three dunks (Grantham had the other).
The backcourt tandem of Brewer and Eddy was able to attack the basket and finish shots with regularity, especially in the second half. That wasn't surprising for Class AAA standout Eddy, but Brewer's performance did a service for all Class A athletes.
"If you see my stat sheet,'' Brewer said, "I only average about 16 points [in high school]. You've got to come to the game to see my passes. I'm a better passer than I am scorer. Nothing wows a crowd like a good pass, and I was glad I made a few tonight. It's always good when you hear the crowd start screaming.
"I just wish I would've entered the dunk contest. I could've won it, too, I believe. But we came out and played hard and I had 13 [points] and had a few dunks. I thought I competed as well as [the AAA players] did.''
Eddy agreed that it was important for him to show why he was the only Division I player in the game, though Grantham will almost definitely compete at that level after spending a season at Hargrave Military Academy (Va.).
For much of the game, Eddy even guarded the 6-7 Grantham, who made just 4 of 12 shots and didn't play down the stretch when the North was giving futile chase.
"He's really good,'' Eddy said of Grantham. "I said I was going to challenge him, and I guarded him the whole game. I just played my best. We went at it, said a few words, but I respect his game and he respects mine, so it's all good.
"I wanted to make sure that everybody knew I was good, and I think I did. I played the best I could. I didn't make every shot, but I made most of them, and that's the point of the game.''
Eddy was 10 of 15 from the floor, including 4 of 6 on 3s.
The South led in rebounds 66-55, with Martin (10 points, 12 boards) pulling off a double-double. Fairmont Senior's Shaquille Washington grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds for the North.
The win, the second in a row for the South, increased its edge to 25-6 since the series was resumed in 1983. The sides had previously alternated wins since moving to the SC Community Center in 2006. Despite the low paid attendance figure, the 1,500-seat facility was nearly two-thirds full on Friday.
It also marked the first time in 10 years that the winning team failed to score 100 points.
The big winner in the pre-game skills contests was University's Travis Tomer, who captured both the slam-dunk competition and 3-point shootout. Tomer then beat Martinsburg's Justin "Cookie'' Clinton, who will quarterback the North in tonight's North-South football game at Laidley Field.
Clinton and the South's Trevond Reese (SC) were pulled out of the stands for a special basketball vs. football 3-point challenge. Tomer needed a tiebreaker to subdue Clinton. Dolan took the free-throw shooting event.
The West Virginia Athletic Directors Association, which sponsors the game, also handed out a pair of $500 scholarships at halftime to Chapmanville's Mackenzie Martin (South) and Parkersburg South's Doug Dennis (North). Dennis scored 11 points.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.