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Local stars strut their stuff at HBCA games

On paper, Sunday’s third contest at the Hoosier Basketball Coaches Association’s East-West All-Star Games at Chambers Gymnasium in Paoli should have been a blowout.
With a lineup that included twin towers Matt Kiefer (6-10) and Logan Brand (6-11), Xavier-signee Dedrick Finn and gritty Evansville Reitz guard Jeff Reich, District 2 looked to be a tall order for District 4’s best, especially with no player bigger than 6-4.
So what’s the best way to beat the defense’s strong inside game? Seek the rainbow and out-hustle the other team.
A majestic 33-point, nine three-pointer outing by Paoli’s Evan Seacat in the final game of his career in the Ram Dome, as well as a 17-point, five three-pointer effort by South Central’s Craig Schoen, strong rebounding by Josh Pruett of Corydon and Rocky Schultz of Crawford County, and all-around hustle by the entire lineup, the underdog East team took the juggernaut West to overtime, only to fall by two points, 109-108.
Schoen nearly hit the game-winner with a few ticks left in regulation; however, his lay-up attempt over Kiefer and Finn rolled off the front of the rim. New Albany’s A.J. Groves tipped the ball back to Seacat, who launched a prayer from almost half-court. Having already drilled eight triples, this one was right on line and drew a collective gasp from the crowd as it was flung through the air. That was followed by a moan from the faithful, however, as the ball bounced away as the horn sounded.
“I thought my shot was going to go in. I heard coach say I had to shoot because time was running out, so I pushed it inside,” Schoen said. “I can’t believe it didn’t fall. Evan’s shot almost did, though.”
In the three-minute overtime, Kiefer scored the first bucket, which was answered by the only points of the day for Crawford Brian Key. Reich then scored back-to-back deuces to give the West a 109-105 lead. Schoen raced the ball up court, passed off to Seacat, and the Northwestern-signee bombed his ninth trey to set the final score at 109-108.
“When you come into a gym with this kind of talent, it makes it a lot easier to coach,” South Central’s Greg Robinson said. Robinson was a co-coach with New Albany’s Jim Shannon for the East club. “Looking at (the East) roster, we knew we weren’t going to be able to dominate inside, and the way you negate that is to play hard baseline to baseline and shoot well.
“Having Evan shoot the way he did really helped, obviously. Today he could have shot from Hwy. 150 and still made them. I think in the end, we just got a little tired.”
The West stormed ahead in the early going, thanks to the bombs from Seacat, Schoen, Pruett, Brian Johnson (Austin) and Cain Gilstrap (Orleans), who combined for 10 first-half three-pointers. Five threes came in the first five minutes as the East took a 21-11 lead.
The West chipped away and got to within 48-45 with 1:33 left in the half, but Gilstrap hit his only three and New Albany’s Marcus Flynn had a lay-in to set the halftime score at 53-45.
Seacat drilled a trio of threes in a 46-second span of the opening stages of the second half to push his team’s advantage to 63-54 before a furious charge by Finn and Kiefer cut into the deficit.
By the time Kiefer slammed one home over two defenders with 12:14 showing, the West was back in it at 72-all.
A short time later, the squad held a 91-79 lead and the game looked to be all but finished.
That’s when Schoen and Seacat hit back-to-back threes and Groves bombed a trio of trifectas to tie it at 94-94.
In the end, however, the West stood tall.
“I told our guys not to get caught up in the details of the game and just go out and play, and I think they did that. The first five and the last five we had out there were probably our best athletes, and they darn near pulled it off,” Robinson said. “That other team definitely had us beat on paper, but we just outhustled them and played better as a team.”
Kiefer scored 24 points to win M.V.P. honors while McKain added 23. Brand notched 15 and Finn and Reich both scored 14.
Pruett finished his career with 11 points, three threes and seven rebounds; Johnson scored 11 points; Schultz carded seven points and Key two. In addition to his 17 points, Schoen hit five of seven tries beyond the arc (he was 6-11 overall) with seven assists, four rebounds, two steals and a block on Finn.
–In the other boys game, District 3 shaded District 1 in overtime, 113-111. Todd Capes of Jennings County scored 18 points and earned the M.V.P. award.
West trims East, 77-67
Minus New Washington’s Sonya Wahl, who suffered a pre-game knee injury, and Brianna Howard, who did not show up, the East girls were already behind the eight-ball at the opening tip of their game against District 2.
The East team, co-coached by North Harrison’s Missy Voyles, showed plenty of firepower for the first 17 minutes, but the West washed away any hopes of a win with a 77-67 defeat.
Leading the way for the East was Angela Newkirk of Salem, who had two threes, 20 points and dominated in the low post. New Albany’s Regina Marshall tacked on 16. Corydon Central’s Sunny Hipple scored six points and had four rebounds, Liz Marshall had four with seven boards and Heather Kintner knocked down a three for a five-point afternoon with a steal and a block.
Gibson Southern’s Ashley Nelson earned M.V.P. honors with a 15-point effort for the West. Sara Rohleder of Forest Park had nine, and a trio of players scored eight in the win: Abby Thomas (Southridge), Chelsea Wessel (Evansville Reitz) and Erin Smith (South Spencer).
“Missing Wahl and Howard really hurt us inside,” Voyles said after the game. “We started off with a bang but couldn’t get the stops that we needed to and couldn’t score when we needed to. They got on a little run and that was that. End of ball game.”
Hipple played a tremendous first half, where she scored all her points and pulled down a majority of her rebounds.
“I was pleasantly surprised with her,” Voyles said. “She played relaxed and did really good job for us to start the game.”
After the East’s fast start, the West countered with a 11-5 run in the final three minutes to take a 46-41 lead at the half. District 2 kept up the intensity in the second frame, posting a 7-0 run midway through the session to go up by 17, 67-50, with 6:52 left.
The East never recovered.
“They got on a roll and we didn’t answer,” Voyles said.
— In the second girls game, Terre Haute South’s Melanie Boeglin scored 21 points for M.V.P. honors in leading District 1 to a blowout over the East, 113-73.
Laura Quilter hit five threes for 21 points; Mandy Geryak (Martinsville) had 17, and IU-bound Cynthia Valentin (Bloomington South) and Jennifer Rath (Vincennes Lincoln) each scored 16 in the West victory.
Ashley Elmore (Jennings County) and Holly Wehr (South Ripley) came away with 23 points apiece in the losing effort.