It was a banner day for the West in the Texas Six-Man Coaches Association basketball all-star games on Saturday afternoon inside Rider Fieldhouse.
West 74, East 32
The West All-Stars were heavy favorites entering the girl’s game for a good reason. All five starters for the West were all-state selections.
However, the East remained within striking distance before a full-court press helped the West pull away late in the first quarter and into the second quarter.
“The East is also filled with all-stars, and we knew they were going to compete and get after us hard today,” West coach Ben Connell said. “We may have been favored to win, but our kids were still nervous, and some of them hadn’t picked up a basketball in a while until this week, so we had to knock the rust off a little bit.”
It was a fitting send-off for the West duo of Landry Morrow and Lilianna Porras of Sands, who was able to play for their coach one last time before heading to college.
“I’m not usually big into coaching all-star games, but I wanted to coach this game because of Lilianna and Landry and to have one more chance to coach and be around them. They’ve been with me for seven years, and they’re the reason we won the state championship run, and it was an awesome experience to do it one last time.”
Morrow, who will soon continue her basketball career at Angelo State, was named Defensive Player of the Game while finishing tied with her high school teammate, Porras, and Shaylin Weathers of White Deer with nine points. Robert Lee standout Braylee Hood took home Offensive Player of the Game honors after leading all scorers with 12 points. The East was led by Chloe Taylor, who scored seven points.
“It’s been a journey, and I’m grateful to have earned the Defensive Player of the Game in my final game (as a high school player),” Morrow said. “I wasn’t sure I was going to play, but when I found out he was our coach, I knew I had to play with him one last time.”
“I’m not usually big into coaching all-star games, but I wanted to coach this game because of Lilianna and Landry and to have one more chance to coach them and be around them,” Connell added. “They’ve been with me for seven years, and they’re the reason we won the state championship run, and it was an awesome experience to be able to do it one last time.”
The big win in the all-star game was the icing on the cake for the trio from Sands, who coasted to the state title in March. However, it was an entire team effort, with 13 of West’s 14 players scoring in the contest.
“What was fun about this game was having a bunch of all-stars and being able to put any of them in the game at any time without having to worry. All 14 of them were capable of doing anything we asked them to do.”
West 104, East 53
In the boy’s game, the West ran out to a big lead early before cruising to a 104-53 victory. The West led the East 29-8 after the first quarter and never scored fewer than 23 points in any quarter.
The West was incredible from 3-point range in the contest, hitting 17 shots from long distance, led by Offensive Player of the Game, Evan DeLeon of Springlake-Earth, who hit six 3-pointers. In total, eight different players from the West hit a 3-point shot in the contest.
“It was this way all week in practice,” Whiteface coach Todd Sessums said of his West squad. “I tried to get them to run a set offense, but they love the three, so they were just going to shoot the ball.”
The East equaled its first-half points (17) in the third quarter, while the West struggled to begin the second half until DeLeon caught fire from beyond the arc.
Four of DeLeon’s six 3-pointers came in the second half, with his only made shot from long range in the third quarter sparking the West to another big run.
“I don’t know how to describe the feeling, but it’s like muscle memory,” DeLeon said. “When that first one went in, I felt like I wasn’t going to miss again.
“The first day of practice was a little sketchy, but we got to know each other and developed amazing chemistry, which helped us on the court. Everyone was able to score in our scrimmages, so we weren’t surprised we were able to score over 100 points today.”
“Basketball runs through him, and he loves to play the game,” Sessums said of DeLeon. “This group is so talented, and all 14 do things well. It made coaching this game easy.”
Julius Stevenson of Trinidad led the East with 18 points, while his teammate from Whitharral, Aidan VanZandt, joined him in double figures with 11 points.
DeLeon led the West with 24 points. Defensive Player of the Game Stephen Arismendez of Klondike added 16 points while Cooper McCleskey from Guthrie scored 12 points, and Mathew Pena of Buena Vista rounded out the West players in double figures with 10 points.
“The whole week, we had a great time,” Arismendez said. “I grew up playing against a lot of these guys, and it’s fun that we were able to come together in this game. I’ve never earned an award like this , and I didn’t expect to have such a good game, but I was able to take advantage of my opportunity today.”
TSMCA GIRLS BASKETBALL
West 74, East 32
West – Braylee Hood 12, Lilianna Porras 9, Landry Morrow 9, Shaylin Weathers 9, Salma Mondragon 7, Tori Campos 5, Sarah Murphy 5, Sayler Beerwinkle 4, Kinley Chandler 3, Payton Potts 3, Abbyleigh Schilling 3, Alana Croft 3, Kylie Dominguez 2.
East – Chloe Taylor 7, Brynlii Chandler 6, Emma Miller 5, Traci Berend 4, Brianna Steele 3, Rianne Hurst 3, Frida Rodriguez 2, Shyanne Tower 2.
West23twentyeleven20 – 74
East9878 – 32
free throws – (W) 17-23, (E) 0-0. 3-pointers – (W) 9 (Hood 2, Porras, Weathers, Mondragon, Campos, Chandler, Potts, Schilling), (E) 3 (Chandler 2, Steele).
TSMCA BOYS BASKETBALL
West 104, East 53
West – Zane Nachlinger 3, Evan DeLeon 24, Mathew Pena 10, Stephen Arismendez 16, Frankie Ontiveros 8, Reid Freeman 3, Joel Williams 7, Kaden Castillo 8, Brandt Behrens 6, Nick Martin 3, Cooper McCleskey 12, Carson Carter 4.
East – Dylan Carney 6, Javier Guajardo 2, Julius Stevenson 18, Aidan VanZandt 11, Dyllen Workmon 6, Hunter Gutierrez 7, Ryan Blair 1, John Resendez 2.
West29262326 – 104
East891719 – 53
free throws – (W) 13-17, (E) 9-13. 3-pointers – (W) 17 (DeLeon 6, Arismendez 4, Ontiveros 2, Nachlinger, Freeman, Williams, Castillo, Martin), (E) 4 (Carney, Stevenson, VanZandt, Gutierrez).