AURORA | The first A-Town All-Star Girls Game since 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic provided plenty of smiles and a glimpse of the future Saturday.
Eight of the 15 girls players that suited up and took the floor at Gateway High School for the fourth edition of the game presented by Sentinel Colorado — a mix of prep players from programs all across Aurora — were underclassmen, including the top three scorers in Regis Jesuit’s Jordan Jones, Eaglecrest’s Nia McKenzie and Vista PEAK’s Breanna Jefferson.
McKenzie, a sophomore, and Jefferson, a junior, scored 22 and 19 points, respectively to help Team West to a 71-53 victory over Team East and Jones, who led the way with 26 points. West coach Howard Payne (Vista PEAK) also got 10 points from Cherokee Trail senior Shanah Estangle in the victory.
Team East — coached by Eaglecrest’s Robby Gabrielli — played with just seven players, but battled with a big boost from Jones, the only representative from the Raiders, who played in the Class 5A state championship game a few weeks earlier.
A pinpoint outlet pass from Eaglecrest sophomore Laci Roffle to Jefferson followed by a pair of McKenzie free throws in the last two minutes of the half sent Team West into the break with a 37-23 advantage.
Team East scored the first 10 points of the second half as Rangeview’s Brianna Linnear made consecutive layups, Eaglecrest senior Dalys McGuinnis hit a jump shot, Smoky Hill senior Nyabuath Tuom scored inside and Jones made a pair of free throws to cut it to 37-33.
McKenzie responded with three baskets and free throw that combined with a layup from Overland sophomore Jhayiana Harris pushed the advantage back into double figures.
The play that drew the most reaction from the crowd — even though it didn’t results in points — came with just over six minutes left in the second half when McKenzie blocked a shot and ignited a break that saw Grandview senior Libby Campbell dish to Harris, who found Estangle, who got it back to an open Campbell for a layup that just didn’t drop.
Linnear (the other Team East player in double figures with 11 points) was the only player in the game who played in the last A-Town All-Star Game, though two others were selected in Grandview’s Lauren Betts and Regis Jesuit’s Avery VanSickle, who were among the 10 players who were picked, but were unable to play due to injury or prior commitments.
Watch a full replay of the game on the NFHS Network (subscription required), here
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
2021 A-TOWN ALL-STAR GIRLS GAME
TEAM WEST 71, TEAM EAST 53
Score by halves:
Team West 37 34 — 71
Team East 23 30 — 53
TEAM WEST (71)
Libby Campbell (Grandview) 2 2-2 6, Breanna Jefferson (Vista PEAK) 8 1-1 19, Breelyn Robinson (Grandview) 2 0-0 6, Laci Roffle (Eaglecrest) 2 1-1 5, Nia McKenzie (Eaglecrest) 7 5-6 21, Jameri Hartsfield (Gateway) 1 0-0 2, Jhayiana Harris (Overland) 1 0-0 2, Shanah Estangle (Cherokee Trail) 4 1-1 10. Totals 27 10-11 71.
TEAM EAST (53)
Brianna Linnear (Rangeview) 5 0-0 11, Nyabuath Tuom (Smoky Hill) 2 0-0 4, Amari Bullock (Rangeview) 2 0-0 4, Dalys McGuinnis (Eaglecrest) 3 0-0 6, Jordan Jones (Regis Jesuit) 8 5-6 26, Seilani Relford (Hinkley) 1 0-0 2, Taniah Knox (Gateway) 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 5-6 53.
3-point field goals — Team West (7): Breanna Jefferson 2, Nia McKenzie 2, Breelyn Robinson 2, Shanah Estangle. Team East (6): Jordan Jones 5, Brianna Linnear.