charleston — Defense is rarely an emphasis in all-star games.
It was nowhere to be found at Friday’s North-South All-Star Basketball Classic.
On a night full of highlight dunks and 3-point barrages from both sides, the North Bears outgunned the South Cardinals 171-141 at the South Charleston Community Center, smashing the previous scoring record for the annual basketball classic.
“All I can do is laugh at that,” Parkersburg Catholic head coach Rob Strcula said about the points scored by his North squad. “Every time we would hit two or three 3s in a row, I would just turn to (assistant coach) Jordan (Toth) and smile. It was amazing tonight how these guys had such good chemistry after only playing together for one practice. There was a lot of positive energy and a lot of confidence in each other. It was fun tonight.”
The most points either side had scored prior to Friday came during the South’s 136-98 victory in 1985. The previous record for a losing team came in the North’s 117-114 overtime loss in 1983.
The South team entered the game with only eight players on the roster and was minus three all-staters.
“We were missing some kids tonight. I think you put Bunky (Brown) on the team tonight and (Joel Sweat) from Nitro then we may have been able to compete with them. Tonight, though, was about having fun. Maybe some more defense would have helped,” Webster County and South head coach Michael Gray said, laughing.
The South started quickly and ran out to a 7-2 lead. Woodrow Wilson standout Bryce Radford tied the game with the South’s first score, which was followed by a deuce from Chapmanville’s Devin Collins and a 3-pointer from Webster County sharpshooter Dorian Groggs.
Unfortunately for the South, it was all downhill from there as the North took the game over with its athleticism and numbers advantage. The Bears responded with a 7-0 run to take a lead they would never relinquish.
A dunk by Evans Award winner Jalen Bridges of Fairmont Senior gave the North its first double-digit lead at 23-12. The lead got up to 17 points with 10 minutes remaining in the first half.
“Tonight, I made up for every good defensive play that I made in my high school career, the last 40 minutes,” Radford said, playfully. “I didn’t get back, I didn’t stop the ball and I didn’t box out. It was all about fun tonight. I liked this (all-star) game a lot more because these are the players that you have actually competed against (in high school) and the guys that you grew up playing AAU and summer league with. I have been in a hotel room all weekend with (Greater Beckley standout) Jay Moore and if anyone knows Jay, it is a time. I have had a great weekend.”
Moore echoed Radford’s statements.
“This whole weekend has been great. Just meeting these guys and getting even closer with each other, learning what each other’s future plans are has been a great experience,” Moore said. “And getting to play alongside Bryce one more time was great.”
The two Beckley stars poured in 30 points apiece for the South. Radford knocked down eight 3-pointers, while Moore wowed the crowd with some tomahawk jams.
“I was trying to make a statement that I was up there with Jalen Bridges. I got close” Moore said, with his usual big grin. “About everybody on their team could dunk. We just had to stay out of the lane.”
Groggs led all-scorers with 33 points — including nine 3-pointers — and was named Most Valuable Player of the South team, while Bridges and fellow Polar Bear Zyon Dobbs were named co-MVPs for the North.
Bridges and Dobbs both finished the game with 23 points, while Cam Selders from Morgantown added 20 points and Cameron Williams from Musselman scored 22.
Collins scored 20 for the Cardinals.
A skills competition was held prior to the game. Dobbs won the free throw shooting contest, while Tyler Gray from Webster County took home the 3-point shooting crown and Selders won the dunk contest.
Groggs and the North’s Cullen Cutright of Williamstown were awarded $500 scholarships from the West Virginia Athletic Directors Association.
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