MULLAN — For one night in Mullan High School’s Pavilion, basketball season was back.
The East Boys team and the West Girls team emerged victorious in the District 1 All-Star games, which pitted two teams of northern Idaho seniors against each other at Mullan High School on March 8.
Of the participants that were invited to the third iteration of the event, Priest River’s Liann Kren and Clark Fork duo Lily Simko and Brooke Stevens suited up for the girls; while Sandpoint’s Bruin Jones and Alex Stockton were the lone local representatives for the boys.
“It’s awesome, there’s no other way to really explain it,” Clark Fork head coach Jordan Adams, who coached her seniors Simko and Stevens on the East Girls team, said. “To be with these girls the last two years, actually watch them play one more time in their uniforms and to actually watch them mix with a group of girls that they’ve probably played against — or haven’t but are most definitely at their level — you don’t get that a lot. To have them be all seniors and have that experience under their belts and to watch them perform with the other seniors is really cool.”
Scoring was at a premium in the girls game, which in a sense was by design. Hampered with two more last-second no-shows, the 10-deep East Girls team relied on its defense, specifically from Stevens and Lake City senior Dejah Wilson to keep the game close. The East clawed within a couple of possessions thanks to its stingy defense and some chemistry from the trio of Kellogg seniors, yet the inside-out game of Timberlake’s Karissa Willis and Bonners Ferry’s Jerzie Pluid was too much to overcome in a 55-47 loss.
Stevens finished with two points, four steals and three rebounds, while teammate Simko scored six and grabbed five rebounds. But Priest River’s Liann Krenn was the highest local scorer, thanks to a 6-0 run in 60 seconds en route to her eight point finish.
Meanwhile on the boys side, Wallace senior Zack Welch hit his first four shots to help the East jump out to a 13-2 lead on the West. Even though the West clawed back and Welch cooled off, the senior sharpshooter wowed the audience by hitting NBA-range threes and nifty layups in transition. His first-half efforts were enough to earn MVP honors for the boys.
Unlike the girls game, the boys All-Star game was played fast and loose, featured a ton of threes and, to the dismay of old-school, basketball curmudgeons, not a lot of defense. Nearly every player who logged minutes scored points and 81 of the 184 total points were scored from threes.
Although the two Sandpoint seniors didn’t see too much playing time on the court together, Jones and Stockton were both effective for the West. Stockton finished with seven points, two boards and a block on Lakeland’s Josiah Haaland; Stockton even stepped out to hit a three as the West traded baskets midway through the second half. Jones finished with nine-points — including a three to tie the game at 91-all with 90 seconds left — two rebounds, two steals and five assists. In some ways, playing together was an ideal send-off for the Bulldog duo.
“Playing together is like heaven on earth,” Stockton said, who added that his experience playing with Jones was “like Shaq and Kobe in their prime.”
Despite lacking ample practice time and being somewhat familiar with their teammates, Jones and Stockton meshed with the players well, creating a laid-back atmosphere for everyone.
“We’ve played against [the other players] for the past three or four years, but we haven’t really gotten along with them because we’re always competing,” Stockton said. “But everyone got along really well tonight. The other team was really serious, but we were just having fun.”
Jones echoed his teammate’s sentiment, citing a laid-back locker room atmosphere on the West Boys team.
“This was a much better send-off than our last game,” Jones said. “I’m glad it was this because we had a lot of fun tonight.”
BOYS DISTRICT 1 ALL-STAR GAME
East 49 52 — 93
West 50 41 — 91
EAST — Taylor 4, Welch 18, Brackebusch 7, Atkins 3, Stutzke 0, Neubauer 3, Holling 0, Rickets 0, King 4, Davis 6, Hostetter 10, Edwards 21, Haaland 11.
WEST — Stellflug 9, Pritchard 5, Bateman 10, Jones 9, Hittle 0, Lohman 11, Durette 1, Desjarlais 25, Kistler 11, Gardom 2, Stockton 7, Howard 2.
MVP: Zack Welch, Wallace
Dunk Contest Winner: Kale Anderson, Coeur d’Alene
GIRLS DISTRICT 1 ALL-STAR GAME
East 18 29 — 47
West 23 22 — 55
EAST — Muehlhausen 6, Kren 8, Bristow 10, Stevens 2, Rauenhorst 2, Senteney 0, T. Sheppard 6, Wilson 7, Elpers 0, C. Sheppard 0, Simko 6.
WEST — Tonkin 3, Liermann 1, Seeley 0, Kronenberg 8, Pluid 10, S. Pakootas 0, Marrow 0, T. Pakootas 9, Greiner 0, Horning 7, Martinez 2, Willis 18.
MVP: Karissa Willis, Timberlake
3-Point Contest Winner: Tommia Pakootas, Lakeside