HAMILTON — As expected, defense was not the name of the game Saturday night.
Eleven players scored in double digits and the two teams combined for 26 treys in the third annual All-Butler County All-Star prep boys basketball game, with the Blue outlasting the Red 118-110 at the Hamilton Athletic Center.
Madison coach Jeff Smith was in charge of the Blue squad and said the run-and-gun approach is pretty much a given for all-star games.
“All of our defensive schemes seemed to fall apart,” Smith said with a smile. “We mostly wanted to play hard, stay in front of people and have fun.”
Badin senior Justin Pappas was named Player of the Game for the Blue, totaling 18 points and four rebounds. Middletown’s Kadar Gardner (17) and Aaron Jones (15), Lakota East’s Will Johnston (17) and Middletown Christian’s C.J. Money (14) were also double-figure contributors to the Blue offense.
Pappas played in this game two years ago. He managed only four points.
“I didn’t really understand the concept of an all-star game. I passed first and shot second,” Pappas recalled. “I was more ready for it this time.
“It’s kind of nice to play with a bunch of guys from different teams. You see a different side of the guys, the nicer side, when you’re on their team. I thought that was pretty cool. These guys tonight were great. Nobody was cheering against anybody. It was a really good experience.”
Fairfield junior Zavian Ricks earned the Player of the Game Award for the Red, scoring 12 of his 17 points in the second half and collecting three rebounds.
Harrison’s Spencer Kinnett (20), Monroe’s Tanner Perkins (15) and Shawn Poindexter (10), Edgewood’s Isaiah Gambrell (14) and Cincinnati Christian’s Miguel Ringer (14) also scored in twin digits for the Red.
“It was my first all-star game, so I really didn’t want to miss it,” Ricks said. “When I watch the NBA or something like that, there’s barely any defense. I knew I had an advantage with that, so I tried to take it to the basket as much as I could.
“It’s definitely not exhausting. Scoring is fun. Dishing the ball, getting guys open — that’s all fun for me as a point guard. I think everybody meshed together, did their thing and had a good time with it.”
Talawanda’s Bobby Jones directed the Red squad. The coaches weren’t allowed to coach their own players, but Jones said he enjoyed the group he had.
There were no practices to prepare for the all-star clash. Players just showed up Saturday and competed.
“I had a great group. They were all very personable kids with great attitudes. They took it all in stride,” Jones said. “I thought they had a lot of fun, and I had a lot of fun coaching them. It was pretty cool to be a part of it. It was nice to be asked to do that, especially with this being my first year at Talawanda.
“In the second half, we tried to keep the teammates together that were from the same team. It was nice to see some of those kids on the floor together, especially the seniors that wanted to have one last go at it. Hopefully they’ll remember 10 years from now that they got to play in the Butler County All-Star game.”
Smith said his game plan was very simple.
“We tried to make sure there was a lead guard with every group so there would always be a ball handler,” he said. “We didn’t do anything other than one time we told them to go trap just to see if we could get one kid loose for a dunk. The trap worked, we stole the ball, but the dunker wasn’t down there.
“Sometimes these all-star games can just be travesties, and this one wasn’t. I really thought this was a nice game. All-star games in general the last few years have been kids shooting from the mascot and everywhere else. There were a few of those tonight, but not the whole 40 minutes. They tried to score and share the ball most of the game.”
Cincinnati Christian’s Cameron Rogers and Poindexter paced the Red with nine and eight rebounds, respectively, and Harrison’s Connor Kinnett added seven. Gardner and Talawanda’s Jonathan Richter snagged six boards apiece for the Blue.
Pappas, who is still trying to sort out his collegiate future, led all first-half scorers with 16 points. Perkins fired in five 3-pointers, four in the opening half.
In the pregame challenge competitions, Johnston was the top 3-point shooter and Gardner was the ball-handling champion.
BLUE (118): Craig James 2 0 5 (two rebounds), Nathan Hegemann 2 0 4 (one rebound), Aaron Jones 7 1 15 (four rebounds), Kadar Gardner 6 2 17 (six rebounds), C.J. Money 5 1 14 (five rebounds), Justin Pappas 9 0 18 (four rebounds), Cooper Shields 1 0 2 (four rebounds), Jordan Robinette 4 0 9 (three rebounds), Will Johnston 7 1 17 (five rebounds), Cole Gronas 3 0 8 (two rebounds), Grant Spicer 1 0 3 (five rebounds), Jonathan Richter 2 1 6 (six rebounds). Totals: 49-6-118 (47 rebounds)
RED (110): Zavian Ricks 7 2 17 (three rebounds), Miguel Ringer 6 1 14 (five rebounds), Spencer Kinnett 7 3 20 (four rebounds), Gabe Allen 2 0 4 (five rebounds), Connor Kinnett 1 0 2 (seven rebounds), Carter Combs 4 0 9 (one rebound), Shawn Poindexter 5 0 10 (eight rebounds), Tanner Perkins 5 0 15 (three rebounds), Cameron Rogers 1 0 2 (nine rebounds), Matt Oehler 1 0 3 (two rebounds), Isaiah Gambrell 7 0 14 (four rebounds). Totals: 46-6-110 (51 rebounds)
3-pointers: B 14 (Gardner 3, Money 3, Johnston 2, Gronas 2, James, Robinette, Spicer, Richter), R 12 (Perkins 5, S. Kinnett 3, Ricks, Ringer, Combs, Oehler)