The game featured nine college-bound players, five of which are headed to Division I programs.
But a couple of players with high school eligibility remaining stole the show.
Lewis and Clark junior Jacinta Buckley scored 17 points to earn the Most Valuable Player award and helped the Metro all-stars hold off the Region all-stars 87-80 in the 25th annual Jack Blair Memorial girls all-star basketball classic at Central Valley HS on Wednesday.
“It’s fun, but you want to win,” Metro coach Gabe Medrano of Lewis and Clark said.
Central Valley’s Lacie Hull added 15 points with eight rebounds and Mt. Spokane’s Aspyn Adams had 11 for the Metro team, while Melody Kempton of Post Falls paced the Region team with 16 points, Trojans teammate Bailey Brennan had 15 and Maisie Burnham of Liberty chipped in with 10.
Medical Lake sophomore Jayda Noble scored nine points and was voted Most Inspirational. Noble was just recently medically cleared from a leg injury and wasn’t sure at the start of the game if she would play.
“She can play,” Post Falls coach Marc Allert said. “And she just got out of a boot so she hasn’t been playing much. She wasn’t even going to play but once she got here, the excitement, she said ‘I want to play.’ So yeah, she can play.”
“It feels awesome,” Noble said of the honor. “It’s my first game back after being out injured for six weeks. I couldn’t have asked for a better team, a better coach, better players. It was just great energy and awesome atmosphere. Awesome. I loved it all.
“I’m so thankful I got invited to this.”
The Metro team opened a 14-point lead midway through the second half, but the Region used an 11-point run – including 3-pointers by West Valley’s Hailey Marlow and Noble – to trim its deficit to four with about 6 minutes left.
Metro’s lead shrunk to three a minute later when Marlow drilled another 3.
Mt. Spokane’s Aspyn Adams popped a short jumper and CV’s Mady Simmelink made a layup to give Metro a five-point cushion. At that point, Metro coach Gabe Medrano of Lewis and Clark subbed the Hull twins back into the game and a few moments later a layup by CV’s Hailey Christopher made it 79-72.
The Region team had another push in them. Brennan made another 3 and Kempton was fouled on a layup to cut it to three at 83-80.
But Kempton missed the and-one, and Marlow was short on a 3-point attempt with 31.4 seconds left with Region down by five.
Christopher hit a pair at the line to provide the final margin.
“It’s really a lot of fun,” Post Falls coach Marc Allert said of the all-star format. “Watching some of the girls in their senior year getting to play to finish it off, then to see some of the girls we don’t get to see play all the time. And just to meet them and see their personalities, it’s awesome.”
“I love these things,” Metro coach Gabe Medrano of Lewis and Clark said. “This is my fourth time I’ve gotten to do this. It’s a great atmosphere, so fun to be a part of.”
As befitting of most all-star games, play was ragged at the start but didn’t keep the teams from filling the bucket.
Metro picked up a layup and a pair of 3-pointers from Christopher and Lacie Hull to jump out to a 12-5 lead early.
A 3-pointer by Brennan and a three-point play by Kempton to narrowed the deficit to 14-13.
Adams drilled pair of 3-pointers and Metro took a 24-17 lead into the game’s first timeout.
After the break, North Central’s Quincey McDeid and CV’s Mady Simmelink drained back-to-back 3s and Metro got out 30-17.
Region bounced back. Consecutive layups by Brennan and Kempton drew Region within five points at 37-32.
Buckley made a scooping layup and knocked down a mid-range jumper to inch Metro back out by nine.
Lacie Hull put down a floater to get it back to 11, but Noble dropped a short jumper and a two free throws just before the buzzer and Metro took a 46-38 lead into the intermission.
Two-time Gatorade Washington state player of the year Lexie Hull finished with eight points for Metro.