The game itself will not top the list of memories for the local East All-Star girls’ basketball players.
That’s what an 82-62 loss in the annual N.C. Coaches Association All-Star Game will do to players, but nonetheless the week itself and its multiple games were a great finale for six Chapel Hill-Carrboro players.
The West squad took control of the game late in the second quarter, finishing the half on a 9-0 run, and led by as many as 20 in the second half. Rebounding and transition scoring were the biggest issues for the team, according to East head coach Michelle Wood of East Chapel Hill.
“Defensively, we didn’t match up very well with them,” Wood said. “And we missed too many shots. We tried a few people on (game most valuable player Shaylen Burnette) and we didn’t have an answer.”
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Burnette finished with 16 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. North Carolina recruit Jamie Cherry of West Craven led the East stars with 24 points. The East shot 32 percent from the field.
Chapel Hill grads Jamella Smith (four points, six rebounds) and Catherine Romaine (four points, two rebounds) both played in the game. They previously had led Chapel Hill’s Tigers to an unbeaten season and the 3A state championship.
“It was really great to play with Catherine one more time,” said Smith. “And being on the same team as coach Wood after always playing against her was a great experience, seeing a different coaching style.”
Smith, who throughout the 2014 season kept a photo on her cell phone of herself in agony after losing the 2013 state championship game, said she didn’t fully realize what her Chapel Hill team had done until it was presented with the state championship rings the day before graduation. She will play at S.C. State in the fall.
Romaine was the N&O’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year for 2013-14 after compiling a 5.01 GPA and starring for the Tigers’ basketball and volleyball teams. She will play at Bucknell.
‘One more game’
Monday’s basketball game in the Greensboro was just the start of a big week for the all-stars.
Tuesday at UNC Greensboro, two Chapel Hill players linked up for the lone East goal in a 4-1 loss to the West in the N.C. Coaches Association girls soccer match.
Chapel Hill graduate Megan Dell assisted Carrboro’s Caroline Houser on a header to score in the 67th minute in the all-star game, in which rosters were selected by high school coaches throughout the state.
“Caroline and Emma (Houser), they’re awesome people,” Dell said. “I love playing with them. They work hard. ... Getting that assist, I didn’t even know it was coming. The ball just fell to me.”
The West win broke a three-year run of draws for the East-West girls’ soccer all-star games. The West now leads the overall series, 10-6-7.
“It’s an honor to play in the East-West game,” Dell said. “The coaches choose you, and when I got the call, I was like ‘Of course I’ll be there.’ ... I became friends with people I’d never met before. It was wonderful. Getting to play out in front of coaches, family, friends for the last time in high school was a big thing for me. I thought the state championship was my last time, but then being asked out here, I was like, ‘One more game? Of course.’”
A late tie
East Chapel Hill's all-conference defensive tackle Chris Alston helped keep the West's running game in check for most of Wednesday night. But the football game's last 5 minutes proved to be pivotal.
Playing in the NCCA East-West game Wednesday night at Greensboro's Jamieson Stadium, the 6-0, 328-pound Alston had two tackles and helped plug the middle as the East took a 10-0 lead.
But the West managed to score twice in the closing minutes – on a 5-yard touchdown run by Kenneth Purvis of Central Cabarrus with 4:02 left in the game, and then a 31-yard field goal by Shelby's Luke Hayek as time expired.
The game's 10-10 final score marked a tie in the all-star football game for just a second time. The only other tie, 0-0, was in 1962.
“We just didn’t finish a couple of drives and gave them a chance,” said East coach Brian Foster of Southern Nash. “But these kids did a great job. A lot of them have never played anything like what we did on offense, and they picked it right up.”