What mattered most for participants in the Southwest Virginia Fellowship of Christian Athletes boys basketball game was the chance to put on their high school uniforms one more time and play the game they love.
The West came away with a 94-82 win in a game where the emphasis was on fun and friendship.
“It was crazy. It was good though. It was about time we got to play together as a team instead of against each other,” said West MVP Nick Livingston of Eastside.
Livingston was a key player in the Spartans’ runs to the VHSL Class 1 championship games the past two seasons. Saturday gave him a chance to wear Spartan green one final time on the basketball court.
“It’s sad,” Livingston said. “I had a great four years at Eastside. I had a great coach and I’m thankful for that.”
Dobyns-Bennett senior Brody Potter was a late entry for the East team after someone from his church nominated him to flesh out the East roster. Potter made the most of it by scoring a game-high 23 points and earning East MVP honors.
“It was a fun experience. I had fun (Friday) practicing with the guys and getting to know more players from different teams,” Potter said.
Several other players from throughout Southwest Virginia posted solid games.
For the West, Union’s Connor Giza finished with 19 points, Ridgeview’s Gabe Counts had 13, Wise Central’s Tyler Vanover added 11 and Eastside’s Chris Swann and Union’s Justin Falin had nine each.
Holston’s Ben Hulbert had 16 points, John Battle’s Isaac Deel scored 14 and Hurley’s Taylor Justus finished with 10.
WEST GIRLS WIN
The West girls led by as many as 14 points in their all-star contest before holding on for a 69-60 win over the East.
The East cut into the West lead throughout the second half and pulled within four points, 64-60, with 1:30 left.
Led by Ridgeview’s Nikole Counts, the West scored the game’s final five points to seal the win. Counts finished with 12 points. Amber Taylor and Bailey Frazier, two of her Wolfpack teammates, scored 14 apiece.
Wise Central’s Dee Cvetnich had nine points and Rye Cove’s Grace Rhoton added seven.
Taylor, a senior who was named the West MVP, said the experience of playing in the all-star game was great.
“I had fun,” she said. “I was excited the Ridgeview team got a chance to come back and play together as teammates again. And I’m honored that we got to play with the (VHSL Class 2 champion) Central girls. Because I know how hard it was to play against them. And it was just so much fun playing with them.
“I’ve talked with a few of them but it felt like when we came together to play, it felt like that I had known them personally for years,” Taylor added.
Jaden Fullen of Gate City was the East MVP after scoring a team-high 12 points.
“It was really fun,” Fullen said. “I got to meet a lot of girls from other teams and it was just fun to play with them on the same team.”
Fullen also plans to play in the VHSCA All-Star Game scheduled for March 23 at Virginia-Wise.
The East got 11 points from Virginia High’s Amaya Lee, 10 from Abingdon’s Emily Billips, nine from Gate City’s Marah Mullins, and seven apiece from Jada Campbell and Taylor Owens, both from Virginia High.
Wise Central’s Brooke Porter won the 3-point contest after tying in the first round with Lady Warriors teammate Olivia Mullins and Counts.