Carney Column: Let’s talk about an All-Conference All-Star Game
Now that the 2016-17 All-Conference lists are out for the 3A and 4A Western Slope League boys and girls basketball players, it’s time we talk about something that needs to happen here in the valley, or at least here on the Western Slope.
What about an All-Star Game? During a recent discussion with a boys coach in the valley, the talk centered around the creation of an All-Star Game for the boys and girls between the 3A WSL and the 4A WSL First Team representatives. How cool would that be?
I think it’s a great idea, and it’s one that would be easy to put together.
Let’s look at the 3A WSL boys First Team: Basalt’s Michael Glen and Justin Henderson; Coal Ridge’s trio of Hunter Gerber, Brandon Herrera and Kevin DiMarco; Roaring Fork’s trio of Aldo Pinela, Justin Thompson and Jassiel Petetan, Grand Valley’s Garett Magee; Moffat County’s Keenan Hildenbrandt; Cedaredge’s Christian Reynolds; Gunnison’s Lane Magnum; Aspen’s AJ Detrick; and Olathe’s Daniel Vernon. That’s 15 players right now, so moving forward you’d need to cut down the first team list to 12 players, which happens to be the size of most basketball rosters. You’d have your five starters and then have seven reserves.
On the 4A WSL boys first team, you have: Glenwood’s AJ Crowley and Aaron Smith; Rifle’s Jacob Boone and Carter Sturgeon; Steamboat’s Ethan Riniker and Mac Riniker; Eagle Valley’s Arturo Loera and Jesus Loera; Palisade’s Max Noland and Dan McLean; Summit’s Dimitri Preciado; and Battle Mountain’s Devin Huffman. Again, 15 players. Moving forward you can cut the first-team list down to 12 players and have it work for a one-game showdown.
For coaches, you can have the winners of each league run the show for their respective leagues, so this year it would be Basalt’s Danny Martinez coaching the 3A WSL team and Glenwood’s Cory Hitchcock coaching the 4A WSL team.
Both are terrific coaches here in the valley.
When it comes to the actual All-Star game, you go by normal high school rules but have the officials be light on calling fouls. You don’t want to have an All-Star game where kids are just marching to the free throw line left and right.
What you want in an All-Star game is a great game that features a great flow and even some high-flying plays from guys that can dunk. Let it be wide open like pick-up basketball. That sounds fun to me.
But prior to the day of the game, what about a skills challenge of sorts, much like the NBA All-Star weekend? You can have a skills challenge featuring dribbling and passing before racing the full length of the court to hit a three-pointer, a shooting contest that pairs up a boy and a girl from each league to see who can hit shots from certain spots on the floor, and then to cap it all off: three-point shooting contests for the boys and girls.
You can make the All-Star celebration a two-night event at one school a year and have it rotate back and forth between a 3A WSL school and a 4A WSL school.
Profits from the skills challenge night could go towards a charity of choice agreed upon by the players, and then the proceeds from the game itself could be kept by the host school to help with production costs.
Outside of this idea popping up from a recent conversation with a local coach, I also recently read an article back home by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review regarding the Cager Classic, which is my hometown’s high school basketball All-Star game. It features All-Stars from across the Greater Pittsburgh area that receive invites for the game based on a staff of selectors for the event. Each year at my high school, Highlands High School, there’s a two-night event with a skills challenge and then two games between the boys and the girls.
Both nights feature a jam-packed gym largely consisting of basketball fans and young kids trying to catch a glimpse of some of the best high school players in the area.
It’s great fun, and it’s also great exposure to players in the area looking to go to college to play basketball.
While the entire event in Pittsburgh is sponsored by local businesses — which leads to donated food and drinks, uniforms, trophies and numerous other things for the events — I don’t think that’s unrealistic here in the valley.
It would be a great event for the kids that work hard trying to make the first team in their conferences. Why not try and reward them by putting on a showcase, instead of them just seeing their names on a sheet of paper?
It could not only do wonders for the players themselves in terms of exposure, it could do wonders for basketball on this side of the Rockies when it comes to recognition.
Obviously this is nowhere near a finished product, as it’s in the early stages of development if it’s being developed at all, but I definitely think this is something that could — and should — happen here in this valley.
I’m open to any and all ideas when it comes to this event. I want help on this because I think it would be great fun to see it all come together for basketball fans in the valley, and it would be one heck of a time for me as a sports writer to cover as well, getting the chance to see some of the great young talent on the Western Slope all come together to play an All-Star game for fun.
Any ideas, suggestions or interest in helping out, just drop me an email, or call my office phone.
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Oregon’s Laurenne Ross and New Castle’s Alice McKennis Duran both announced their retirement in recent days and celebrated together during Saturday’s downhill. McKennis Duran is a local namesake who grew up skiing at Sunlight in Glenwood and formerly trained with the AVSC.