By Kyle Sutherland | Photos by Ted McClenning
CONWAY — Despite a stellar fifth period by Team West, the East still survived Saturday’s Arkansas High School Coaches Association All-Star Girls Basketball Game.
East held off West, 81-77, Saturday afternoon at the Farris Center on the University of Central Arkansas campus.
Under basketball rules, instead of four eight-minute quarters, each game had three seven-minute periods followed by two eight-minute periods with a 20-minute halftime in between.
The third period was the difference in the game as East scored 19 points to West’s six.
Parris Atkins (Bryant) got a solid head start in his college career that will be played on the same floor for the UCA Sugar Bears, scoring 15 of those 19 points for the East in the third.
Atkins had 20 points overall, going 5 for 10 from the floor, including 10 for 11 from the free throw line, and was named the game’s most valuable player.
“It was fun,” Atkins said. “I missed playing with them; half of the girls I played with (Saturday) I played against them, so it was cool to play with them again.
Atkins only entered the game in the second quarter, but quickly proved as soon as she set foot on the ground that she was eager to show what she could do against some of the best competition in the game. State.
“I was there ready to go in so badly,” Atkins said. “I was just like, ‘This is beast mode; now I have to show up.'”
The strong response from Atkins and the East helped counter a very successful second period for the West, led by 12 points from Ouachita Baptist signing Madeleine Tipton (Vilonia), as the East held a narrow lead 30-28 at the start of this great third quarter.
Tipton was the West’s third-leading scorer with 16 points and five rebounds.
Lake Hamilton’s Hayleigh Wyrick spearheaded the impending comeback as the West’s leading scorer, compiling 13 of 22 points in the final period, alongside Southwestern Oklahoma signing Carson Dillard (Farmington). State, which had 19 points, including 11 in the fifth.
Wyrick, an Arkansas Tech signee, was named the game’s MVP for the West team.
“We had a really good girl group and everyone was really encouraging,” Wyrick said. “We all played on good high school teams, so we just thought about it and did what we had to do to (make a) comeback.
“(The All-Star experience) was amazing, I wish it was longer. It was a really quick two days and I made a lot of relationships that will last a while.”
Dillard helped the West get off to a quick start, hitting a 3-pointer that led to a 7-0 run before Kenley McCarn (Melbourne) put the East on the board at the four-minute mark of the first quarter, finishing this period. scoring seven points.
She finished the game as the second-leading scorer in the East with 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting and three rebounds.
McCarn, a Tennessee-Martin signee, just completed one of the most decorated careers of any athlete in state history as a four-time state champion and three-time most valuable player. . She may have had one more opportunity to play for her former head coach, Eric Teague, who coached the East team.
“It was super special and she was a special player in Melbourne,” Teague said. “I give him so much credit for every award I’ve won and everything we’ve done; she was a big part of that. It’s just special for me to go out like this with her.
“It’s just a great day for these kids. They deserve it, they deserve to be able to come here and show what they’ve done because they’ve worked so hard for a long time. I thought it was exciting for the fans and it was good to have a good close game.
Da’Kariya Jackson (Jacksonville) stepped up in the latter part of the game, scoring 11 points and grabbing seven rebounds to claim Game of the East honors.
In the Boys game, it was the spectacle of Jesse Washington as he led all scorers with 23 points, eight rebounds and three assists, propelling the East to an 87-75 win.
Washington (Jonesboro) also won the Most Valuable Player of the Game award.
“It’s been fun playing in high school and against different competitions,” Washington said. “These people here, I really had fun meeting them (Saturday).”
Washington High School coach Wes Swift led the East team as the duo were set to have one last game together before Washington headed to ASU-Mid South after helping Jonesboro win some consecutive state titles in March.
“It was awesome,” Swift said. “I know he didn’t do much, so I was a little concerned about the conditioning and how fast it would take him to get into the stream.
“We were talking as coaches (Friday) about how we all looked really bad and then (Saturday) morning in training we could tell they were starting to get rusty. I thought Jesse had one of our top three or four practices this morning and he played well (Saturday).
The West team only lost 12-11 after the first period, but that didn’t last long as the East took a double-digit lead and didn’t give it up.
Trailing 64-48 heading into the fifth period, West continued to play hard, but the deficit was ultimately too much to make up as East continued to score, finishing the game with a percentage 46% shots in the field.
UCA signee Cam Wallace (Little Rock Parkview) also shone and was named the East’s MVP, scoring 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting and grabbing five rebounds.
It was a bittersweet day for East assistant and former Melbourne head coach Scott Bowlin, who had his last day on the bench, retiring after a highly successful 39-year career.
Bowlin won two conference titles and two district titles in three seasons at Melbourne as well as two state championships at Greene County Tech.
“It was really good, you never know what your reaction will be after you make an announcement like that,” Bowlin said. “This game has been great for me and taught me a lot of things throughout my life and I’ve traveled all over the world because of it.
“I’m just grateful that I was able to finish my career here with these guys, a great team. I want to thank everyone who has been associated with me and all my players. It was a good experience.”
Aiden Underdown (Elkins) was named West Most Valuable Player scoring 14 points and grabbing six rebounds. Underdown is heading to Link Year Prep next season.
Micah Hill (Rogers Heritage) led the West with 18 points.