CENTERBURG — Twenty area high school seniors said goodbye with an impressive night at the Mount Vernon News All-Star Senior Showcase on Tuesday at Centerburg High School.
The Senior-Stars, coached by Mount Vernon’s Kurt Kaufman, jumped out to an early lead and cruised to a 108-93 victory over the All-Stars, coached by Centerburg’s Jim Simpson.
East Knox’s Luke Branstool showed why he was named Mid-Buckeye Conference and Mount Vernon News’ Player of the Year by pumping in 32 points, including an alley-oop dunk off a pass from Mount Vernon’s Joe Scott on the final play of the game.
“I just tried to come out and have fun,” said Branstool, who was voted the game’s Most Valuable Player. “It was a lot of fun seeing how everybody else plays. It was a fun game to play in.
The Senior-Stars tried a couple of times to set Branstool up for the dunk down the stretch and were finally able to connect as time expired.
“I got a good opportunity and set it down. It was pretty fun,” said Branstool.
Scott had set the tone early for the Senior-Stars, as he scored six of the team’s first eight points. Danville’s Nick Stover followed with a 3-pointer and the rout seemed on, as the Senior-Stars led 11-4.
The All-Stars attempted several comebacks in the first half, but each time, the Senior-Stars had an answer, usually in the name of Branstool and Scott.
Branstool had 13 of his game-high 32 points in the first half and Scott had 10 of his 16 to lead the Seniors to a 53-30 lead at halftime.
The All-Stars were able to catch fire offensively in the second half, thanks to the 3-pointer. Ryan McNeal of Mount Vernon Academy drained four treys, and Centerburg’s Collin Bumpus and Skyler Simpson both hit three 3-pointers in the second half. The All-Stars closed the gap to just 12 points (73-61) midway through the second half, but that’s when Scott and Branstool took back control.
Branstool scored 19 points in the second half, including seven straight at one point to push the lead back to nearly 20 points.
McNeal helped the All-Stars close the gap back to 11 (100-89) late in the game as he hit six straight buckets, including four 3-pointers. But, it was too little, too late for the All-Stars.
Scott finished with 16 points to go along with Branstool’s 32 for the Seniors. Branstool’s total was the third highest in the 31 years of the all-star game.
Mount Vernon’s Russell Doup added 11 points; Stover and Robbie Moreland of Danville both added nine points; MV’s Tad Glibert and Danville’s Weston Severns had eight each; East Knox’s Colton Tucker had six; Fredericktown’s C.J. Ruhl had five; and Fredericktown’s Thomas Hinkle four for the Senior-Stars. Moreland also led the team with 12 rebounds, while Glibert handed out five assists.
The All-Stars were led by Simpson, who had 17 points and 13 rebounds. McNeal finished with 16 points; Bumpus had 12; Centerburg’s Lyle Lindsey 11; Utica’s Justin Dassylva 10; Centerburg’s Brandt Lambert, Highland’s Greg Deckling and Mount Vernon Academy’s Jake Erskine had seven each; Highland’s Kyle Cremeans had four; and Utica’s Kyle Walton two. Cremeans handed out three assists to lead the team.
Lindsey took home the trophy as the 3-point contest winner. He scored 14 points in the finals to easily outdistance Simpson (7), Walton (7) and Stover (5).