GRANVILLE — They’re used to being the best players on the court. But in their final appearance as high school basketball players, they were just team members.
They were All-Star team members.
Five local high school students — Centerburg’s Troy Lemke and Drew Osborne, Highland’s Kelsey Burt, Mount Vernon’s Ben Hoar and Utica’s Scott Cline — put on their basketball uniforms for the final time on Friday. All five played in the District 11 All-Star games.
Hoar, Osborne and Lemke were teammates on the North team, while Cline played for the South. Burt played for the North in the girls’ game.
Osborne led all area scorers with 19 points. He added six rebounds and two steals.
The final scores weren’t important (although Burt and Cline might argue, because their teams won.) What was important was the event itself, and what it meant to the players.
“I knew from the (Senior Showcase) that this is a fun time to meet new people,” said Hoar, who had one point, one rebound, one assist and one block. “I don’t really care how many points I scored. It was just good to talk to some people from Olentangy. They’re good guys.”
It was obvious how important the game was to Hoar. He played baseball with the Yellow Jackets at Delaware Hayes earlier in the day, going 3-for-4 with a home run. He then drove from Delaware to Granville, arriving during the first half. Friday’s All-Star game might make him the first person in Mount Vernon history to hit a home run and a free throw on the same day.
“This was something I knew I’d remember,” Hoar said. “This was worth the drive to get here. This was worth the effort.”
There is a definite sense of levity in the air in All-Star games. The first surprise in the boys game came during warm-ups, when most of the North players wore each other’s trunks, creating an odd rainbow-like clash of colors on the court.
“This is a nice honor,” Lemke said, “although I didn’t get to wear my full uniform.”
Lemke had three points, five rebounds, two assists and a steal.
“(I’ll miss) playing with my friends,” Lemke said. “I grew up with them playing basketball, from elementary school.”
Cline’s South team — which won 135-109, by the way — didn’t have any other area players, so he had to play against his Centerburg rivals.
“It was nice to see them out there,” said Cline, who had 12 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks. “I wish I could have played with them, because I always played against them. But it was fun to see some familiar faces out there.”
For Burt, the girls’ game meant an end to her long basketball career.
“This is a really big honor,” said Burt, who didn’t score in her game but did tally eight assists. “This is my favorite sport in high school. I’m going to miss being with my team. They’re what makes this fun.”
For those who are keeping track, Burt’s North team won, 94-88.
“It was cool playing this game against really good competition,” Lemke said. “It’s a really good experience. It’s sad ... basketball’s over. It’s time to move on to other things.”
“It’s a bittersweet feeling,” Cline said. “There’s no better way than to go out playing with a bunch of great players. It’s sad that it’s over, but it’s a great way to go out.”