GRANVILLE — Six area players led the North to a high-scoring victory in the 2010 District 11 All-Star game at Granville High School on Friday night. The North, coached by Mount Vernon coach Kurt Kaufman and Donovan Barrett of Buckeye Valley, used its size to defeat the South, 118-95.
The North, which was led by 19 points from Taylor Rieger (Olentangy Orange), got several big contributions from area players. East Knox’s Luke Branstool led the double-digit scorers with 14 points. Centerburg’s Skyler Simpson added 11 points, and Utica’s Justin Dassylva dropped in 10 points. Centerburg’s Brandt Lambert (nine points), Mount Vernon’s Joe Scott (eight points) and Danville’s Weston Severns (two points) also contributed to the victory.
“This was a lot of fun,” said Branstool. “We scored a lot of points, over 100. That’s not something that’s happened a lot to me. It was an honor to be in the game. ... We didn’t have any practices at all. We just came out and played basketball like we knew how to. ... I played all right. You get limited minutes, so I did OK. It is not as much as I am used to playing, but it was a lot of fun.”
“This feels great because we’re a bunch of country boys beating the city boys,” said Dassylva. “It was a lot of fun. Coming out with a win is even better.”
Kaufman’s North squad came out firing, jumping on top early. Branstool scored a pair of buckets to get things going, and Rieger took over from there. A long jumper and a 3-pointer from Rieger put the North on top, 11-6, despite a pair of 3-pointers by South’s Matt Dawson (Newark Catholic). Layups by Garrison Hinkle (Gilead Christian) and Lambert kept the offense going, though the South managed an 8-2 spurt to cut the lead to one, 17-16, with 12:40 to go in the first half.
Lambert, Scott, Simpson and Dassylva helped fuel another run with buckets, and a little defense slowed the South just enough for the North to open up a lead. The lead grew to 15 with 2:22 to go, and was stretch to 18, 58-40, after a putback by Scott and a jumper by Hinkle to end the half.
“I think we did pretty good on the defensive end,” Severns said. “We scored a lot, but we also slowed them down a little bit.”
A 3-pointer by Simpson started the second half, but the South quickly made its move, getting a jump-start from Liberty Union’s Pat Blevins. Blevins hit a couple of buckets in the first two minutes to fuel a 13-7 spurt. The North answered with a 10-1 run of its own, however, and despite a valiant effort, the South could never overcome the North’s size advantage.
“We had all of the height,” said Simpson. “It was divided up North and South, so no one can complain.”
The lead grew slightly over the last 10 minutes, capping out at 25 in the North’s 118-95 win.
“This was a lot of fun, getting to play with people you know,” said Simpson. “Winning didn’t hurt either. ... If we were on the same high school team, we definitely would have won a state title. It was awesome.”
“This was fun, getting to play with all of these good players,” said Severns. “It is nice to be on a winning team. It was a great way to end the season.”
Getting to coach such a talented squad was a lot of fun for Kaufman, and the game just highlighted what he already knew.
“I made the comment to the other coaches before the game, ‘When you look at District 11, it is strong. Both teams really have a lot of good players out there.’ That says a lot about high school basketball and a lot about the job the coaches are doing in our district. It was a lot of fun. The kids were great, and they played really well,” said Kaufman.
Kaufman also got one last opportunity to coach Scott, a player he has watched develop over the last four years.
“Joe’s meant a lot to our program,” said Kaufman. “It was fun to be on the floor one more time with him. He’s done a lot for our school, and he represents it well.”
Notes: Several awards were handed out prior to the start of the boys contest, with two area individuals being recognized. Kaufman was selected as the District 11 Division I Coach of the Year after leading the Yellow Jackets to a 17-3 regular season record. Also, longtime Centerburg statistician Tom Stewart was awarded the District 11 Distinguished Service Award. ... The 2010 District 11 Hall of Fame Class was also introduced. Among this year’s honorees is former Mount Vernon coach Dave Moore. There will be a banquet honoring the class tonight at the Olde Summit Towne Restaurant in Summit Station at 6 p.m. Tickets are available at the door.