East tops West in annual all-star game
The 42nd Annual Via All-Star Basketball Classic was played Saturday at Northampton Community College, pitting senior all-stars against one another in four separate games.
The West squad featured seniors from Central Catholic, Northampton, Northwestern, Parkland and Whitehall among other Lehigh Valley teams.
The West came up on the short end of the score in both games, with the girls falling 56-49 and the boys suffering a 121-97 loss.
In the girls game, the lead bounced back and forth with the East squad taking a 31-28 lead going into halftime when Freedom’s Meckenzie Herman hit a three-pointer at the buzzer.
The game remained close in the third quarter, but the West trailed 40-36 with time running out. That’s when Pleasant Valley’s Joyce Sullivan buried a three-pointer of her own to make it 40-39.
The East squad put on a run late in the fourth quarter, stretching their lead to 10 points at one point.
Sullivan finished with 12 points, the second-highest total on the West team. Northampton’s Aja Blount led the West with 15 and Herman led all scorers with 16.
“This was a lot of fun,” said Parkland head coach Wes Spence, who led the West girls team. “I didn’t have to do anything with these girls, basically just shuttle them in and out and I even delegated that to my assistants. The girls played well. They got up and down, and it was a good, competitive game on both sides.”
Many of the schools represented on the West team had multiple players in the game, and Spence and his coaches used that as an opportunity to give the girls the chance to play together with their teammates, and with players that they had spent the past years playing against.
“It was neat, because you get to go out with a classmate and get to play with those girls one last time,” said Spence. “But then you also get to team up with some of the players that you were trying to beat in your high school career, so I think the girls enjoyed this very much and had a lot of fun
Defense was sorely lacking in the boy’s game, which turned into more of a slam dunk and three-point shooting exhibition. The two teams combined to hit 24 three-pointers and countless dunks.
There were just four fouls called in the boys contest, as the referees decided to let the guys have their fun on the court. Parkland’s Sam Iorio led the West team with 28 points, and Easton’s Arnel Lewis led all scorers with 30.
Northwestern’s Trevor Cunningham and Robbie Seyfried were selected to play on the West team, but Cunningham was unable to play. Seyfried finished with four points in the game.
“It was fun to be with other guys that can play at a high level and just go out there and play basketball,” said Seyfried. “It was an honor just to be recognized as one of the better seniors and just to go out and play.”
The Via All-Star Basketball Classic is more than just the four games played on Saturday.
The event also features clinics, a scholarship award and an All-Star Banquet.
This year’s speaker at the banquet was former NFL linebacker, commentator and team executive Matt Millen, who graduated from Whitehall High School, played his college ball at Penn State under Joe Paterno and then played 12 seasons in the NFL with the Raiders, 49ers and Redskins, winning a Super Bowl with each team.
The players are also involved in helping with the basketball skills clinic and raising money for Via, in addition to being the stars of the show.
The first two games of Via’s Super Saturday pitted the North All-Stars, which were mostly Monroe County teams, against the South All-Stars, which included players from the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference’s and Colonial League’s southern area teams.
The North and South teams split the outcomes. The South girls defeated the North, 45-38, in the first game, followed by a 102-85 victory for the North boys. In the later games, the East beat the West in the boys and girls games, winning the girls game 56-49 and taking the boys game by a 121-97 score.