The Idaho High School All-Star basketball games Saturday posted the highest combined point totals in their six-year history.
It’s no wonder with all the talent on the North and South teams.
For the second time in three years, the North made it a clean sweep as the boys overcame a 14-point deficit for a 114-109 victory and the girls used a late surge to hold off the South 92-81 at North Idaho College’s Rolly Williams Court.
Just before North coach Dave Cornelia inserted his first batch of substitutes – and both coaches generally subbed five at a time, every 5 minutes – the North trailed 16-3 barely 3 minutes and 45 seconds into the game.
Ben Frisbie of Lake City and Jared Heitzman of Lewiston were crucial in getting the North back in the game. Frisbie had 13 of his 16 points in the first half that saw the South go into halftime with a 61-58 lead.
While the game didn’t continue with the same breakneck pace in the final 20 minutes, the stellar individual play certainly didn’t disappoint.
Perhaps the play that summed up the North’s effort and locked up the Most Valuable Player honor for Lake City guard Jason Wheelock came with 10:12 remaining. That’s when the North, which had yet to lead in the game, pulled in front 86-85 when Wheelock dribbled through an opponent’s legs at midcourt and zinged the ball around his back as he drove for the go-ahead basket.
That had most of his North teammates jumping up from the bench. And it also explains why several of those players were pointing toward Wheelock as the public address announcer began to announce the MVP selection.
“That was just instinct,” Wheelock said of his dribbling display. “He was just standing there spread out and it just happened.”
Wheelock, who finished with 14 points, had a good explanation of the slow start.
“We just had to get used to each other,” he said. “Once we started jelling a little bit it was fun.”
Wheelock especially enjoyed playing with opponents from rival Inland Empire League schools.
“I’ve always looked up to the guys I’ve played against,” Wheelock said. “Once you get to have fun and play a game with them, it’s pretty special. We joked around about the rivalries. We used to make so much fun of the Lewiston kids and we were able to talk about it. I’m sure they made fun of us, too.”
Eleven of the 12 players on each team scored. For the North, just Lewiston guard Ryan Young didn’t score. But he didn’t seem to mind. After all, it was a week ago that his team captured the 5A state championship.
St. Maries senior Aaron Corsi led the North with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Black (13), Heitzman (12), Justin Carter of Post Falls (11) and Spencer Swerin of Sandpoint (10) each reached double figures in scoring.
Jordan Bjornberg of Blackfoot and Dennis Mikelonis of Borah each had 20 to lead the South.
There was a distinct Coeur d’Alene and Lake City flavor on the North team.
LC post Katie Baker, who was just honored this week as the Gatorade Player of the Year in Idaho for a third season, finished with a game-high 30 points and was named MVP. Kama Griffitts and Amy Warbrick of CdA had 18 and 16, respectively, while Camille Reynolds of Lakeland had 14.
“The local kids played well,” North and CdA coach Dale Poffenroth said. “At one point I looked out there and there were three of mine, (Baker) and (Jordan Schoening of Post Falls). I guess you get used to them because you know what they can do.”
The South took a brief led at 70-69 with 8 minutes remaining. But the North put on a final surge to put the game away.