The smiles told the story of the inaugural A-Town All-Stars Game March 26.
Time after time down the court at Aurora Central High School in the fast-paced debut game of the city’s top boys basketball players — as presented by the Aurora Sentinel — grins were flashed as past teammates, recent foes and old friends challenged each other to the delight of a large crowd.
Twenty-four players from 11 Aurora schools that made the 2015-16 boys basketball season the all-time gold standard for the city combined for 250 points — 133 for Team East in a 16-point win over Team West — and sent the season off in style.
“I grew up with almost all of these kids, so it was good to have them all on one stage and knowing that we were playing with each other more than against each other,” said Cherokee Trail’s David Thornton, Aurora’s leading scorer during the regular season who finished with 18 points in the all-star game for Team East.
“We just wanted everybody to score,” he added. “We were drawing up plays for other people, like ‘you can get an oop here or shoot a 3 here.’ We were just sharing the ball and having complete fun.”
Fun and sharing ruled the day, as all 24 players scored at least two points in the game and 14 players finished with 10 or more.
One of many marquee names in the game — Indiana University signee De’Ron Davis of two-time Class 5A state champion Overland — dunked his way to 12 points and relished his last chance to play in a prep game in Colorado, though his West squad came up on the short end.
“We’re not all used to playing together, but I had fun and enjoyed my time playing,” Davis said. “Nobody was selfish and everybody just enjoyed themselves.”
While the game was clearly a blast for the players, it also turned out to be competitive, even though Team East — coached by Grandview’s Michael Rogers — threatened to turn the game into a blowout early.
Sparked by Rangeview senior Tyrei Randall — who started hot as he had on several occasions during the Raiders’ 26-1 season — Team East built a 23-point lead in the opening half at 53-30 on a 3-pointer by Eaglecrest’s Colbey Ross.
The high-flying Randall piled up 13 points in the opening half and the crowd got on him for a layup when he had a wide-open path to a dunk, something he’d done plenty of times during the season.
“I love putting on a show for the crowd,” said Randall, who finished with game-high 19 points. “It was my last game as a senior, so I just had fun and showed out.”
Byplay between regular teammates who were on opposite sides in the All-Star game also took center stage.
Reggie Gibson played for Team East and sought out individual battles with his Overland teammates — Davis, Jervae Robinson and Alijah Halliburton — on Team West.
“They are like my brothers, so I had to go at them today,” said Gibson, who knocked down four 3-pointers and flashed range that prompted PA announcer Kyle Speller to call him “Steph Gibson,” a reference to Golden State sharpshooter Steph Curry.
“He was not shooting like that during the season, so I don’t know where that came from,” Halliburton said with a grin.
Playing on their home floor for the final time, Aurora Central seniors Ladarius Thomas and Elijah Coleman posted back-to-back dunks on opposite ends of the floor in the second half and went 1-on-1 on a few occasions.
“We had a little dunk-off between each other, so that was fun,” Coleman said.
Coached by Rangeview’s Shawn Palmer and his staff, Team West took its only lead in the second half at 80-79 on a 3-pointer by Gateway’s DeMario Williams.
The youngest player in the field — Smoky Hill freshman Kenny Foster — hopes he has future games to look forward to as he scored 16 points and looked every bit like he belonged on the floor with Aurora’s extraordinarily deep crop of talent.
“If you ask me right now, I say this should happen next year, the year after that and the year after that,” said Foster, who racked up 18 points. “It was so much fun to play with those guys.”
Ross — Colorado’s Gatorade Player of the Year after helping a young Eaglecrest team make it to the 5A state championship game — found the game to be a perfect capper to a memorable season that included his Raptors taking home the 5A runner-up trophy.
“I had a few great things happen this year and playing in this game was pretty amazing,” said Ross, who played opposite teammate Ikenna Ozor and finished with 14 points.
Grandview’s Gaige Prim (15), Thomas (13) and Gibson (12) also scored in double figures for Team East — with Regis Jesuit’s Michael Wambganss coming close to joining them with nine — while Rangeview’s Elijah Blake (12) and EJ Reed (10), Coleman (14), Ozor (10) and Halliburton (12) tallied double figures for Team West.
Notes: Fifteen seniors who played in the game are scheduled to graduate in May, but nine are expected to return to play for their respective schools next season in juniors Colbey Ross and Ikenna Ozor of Eaglecrest, juniors Lechaun Duhart and Gaige Prim of Grandview, junior Kyle Colen and freshman Kenny Foster of Smoky Hill, junior Elijah Blake of Rangeview, junior Jaizec Lottie of Cherokee Trail and sophomore Te’Rae Johnson of Vista PEAK…The players who appeared in the game played on teams that posted a combined final record of 190-88.
— For everything related to the inaugural A-Town All-Star Game, visit atownallstars.com
TEAM EAST 133, TEAM WEST 117
Score by halves:
Team East 64 69 — 133
Team West 57 60 — 117
TEAM EAST (133)
Colbey Ross (Eaglecrest) 6 0-1 14, Tyrei Randall (Rangeview) 8 2-3 19, David Thornton (Cherokee Trail) 8 0-1 18, Lechaun Duhart (Grandview) 2 0-0 5, Gaige Prim (Grandview) 7 1-1 15, Reggie Gibson (Overland) 4 0-0 12, Ladarius Thomas (Aurora Central) 5 1-2 13, Jalen Guidry (Rangeview) 2 2-2 7, Michael Wambsganss (Regis Jesuit) 3 0-0 9, Geoff Kelly (Regis Jesuit) 2 1-2 5, Kenny Foster (Smoky Hill) 5 5-5 18, Solomon Proctor (Hinkley) 1 0-0 2. Totals 53 12-17 133.
TEAM WEST (117)
Jervae Robinson (Overland) 6 0-0 13, Jaizec Lottie (Cherokee Trail) 2 2-2 6, Elijah Blake (Rangeview) 5 0-2 12, EJ Reed (Rangeview) 5 0-0 10, De’Ron Davis (Overland) 6 0-2 12, Kyle Colen (Smoky Hill) 3 0-0 7, Alex Hawkins (Vista PEAK) 3 0-0 6, Elijah Coleman (Aurora Central) 6 0-0 14, DeMario Williams (Gateway) 1 0-0 3, Alijah Halliburton (Overland) 6 0-0 12, Te’Rae Johnson (Vista PEAK) 1 3-4 6, Ikenna Ozor (Eaglecrest) 4 2-2 10. Totals 47 7-12 117.
3-point field goals — Team East (18): Reggie Gibson 4, Michael Wambsganss 3, Kenny Foster 2, Colbey Ross 2, Ladarius Thomas 2, David Thornton 2, Lechaun Duhart, Jalen Guidry, Tyrei Randall. Team West (8): Elijah Blake 2, Elijah Coleman 2, Kyle Colen, Te’Rae Johnson, Jervae Robinson, DeMario Williams. Total fouls — Team East 11, Team West 12. Fouled out — None. Technical fouls — None.