Talent on display at fourth annual Eastside High School All-Star games
June 26, 2013
Nearly 50 local boys and girls prep basketball standouts played in the fourth annual Eastside High School All-Star Games held June 12 at Macomb Community College.
Following is a listing of each local player who took part in the all-star game.
Away team: Coached by Utica Ford II’s Matt Joseph
Away team: Coached by Warren Mott’s Jeff Olind
WARREN — Just like in any basketball all-star game, players in the 2013 Eastside Boys High School All-Star Basketball game looked to fire up the crowd with thunderous dunks and textbook jumpers.
The same was true in the girls’ game, as some of the top handpicked, recently graduated seniors tossed precision passes and lit up the scoreboard during their annual all-star game. This season’s installment of boys and girls games took place June 12 at Macomb Community College.
The all-stars were divided into “home” and “away” teams, and local coaches took the helm in an effort to showcase some homegrown talent, as many of the players were packed and ready to move on to their college teams.
In the midst of a group of talented players who wanted to show the crowd their vertical leaps and prowess from outside the 3-point arc, Fraser High senior Zach Ferguson — playing for the home team in the boys’ game — was content to set his teammates up for most of the night.
“I’m more of a pass-first player. If I have an open shot, I’ll take it, but I’m always looking to pass,” said Ferguson, who will play at Macomb Community College in the fall. “It was a good experience. I’ve played with a couple of the guys in AAU, so I know how they play, and that made it easier to set everybody up.”
Ferguson is one of several players — boys and girls — who will continue their playing careers at the next level. But the standouts used the all-star games as a last chance to battle players they’ve fought for the last four years.
“We’re all friends, so it was fun and it was great competition,” said Clinton Township Chippewa Valley senior Tiffany Misch, who will play at Rochester College this fall. “It wasn’t like a regular game, where maybe one person would stand out. You had a lot of players show how good they were.”
Warren Fitzgerald senior Mizell Lippett, who will play at MCC in the fall, also enjoyed playing in the game, adding that being on the winning team made it a bit more enjoyable.
“We’re really just out there having fun,” Lippett said. “You wanna show off your skills and give the people in the stands something to cheer for.”
The games, in their fourth year, are the brainchild of MCC girls basketball coach Jay Ritchie. Fifty-three players participated in 2013 — up nine from the 44 who played last year.
Ritchie established the game as a way to give Macomb County athletes a forum to showcase their skills at the end of their prep careers. On June 12, Ritchie said it’s important for a lot of schools and good players to be showcased.
“Seeing all of this great talent out here, you just want to have fun,” said Utica Ford II girls basketball coach Matt Joseph, who coached in the girls game. “It’s fun, but these girls are competitive, so you knew they’d care about winning.”
Ashley Nickens, who played for Joseph last season, said it was an honor to play in the game. She said she enjoyed playing with teammate Cris Harper one last time and getting instructions from Joseph a final time.
“It was just cool to be here and play with a lot of my friends,” said Nickens, who will play at the University of Cincinnati in the fall. “I leave (for Cincinnati) in eight days, so being here with my coach and having my family watch me, it was fun.”
Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse girls basketball coach Lisa Downey, who led one of the girls teams, said she had just as much fun as the players. She said it’s great publicity for the girls to have a game like this, adding she’s grateful to Ritchie and MCC for putting the game on.
“I’ve watched most of the kids for years in competing against them. They’re great players, and it’s great that they have a chance to play together,” said Downey.
“I’m having a good time just getting to know some of the kids from the other schools and seeing the fun, friendly competition. It’s pretty exciting. We didn’t run any plays. This is the least amount of coaching I’ve done in a game in my life, and I’m thinking, ‘Wow, maybe I should coach less in real games.’”
For the record, the “home” team won the boys game 107-81 and the “home” team took the girls game 72-53.