CHAMPAIGN — The alley-oop attempts Steven Williams floated up to Xavier Martin failed numerous times.
Didn’t matter to Martin.
The Champaign Central forward displayed a rugged tenacity like he often did last winter for the Maroons in helping the Black squad defeat the Gold team 90-76 on Sunday in the second News-Gazette/Parkland College Boys’ All-Star basketball game at Parkland.
“I’m not going to lie,” Martin said with a laugh after he finished with a game-high 16 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, numbers good enough to earn him Most Valuable Player honors. “I’m a little out of shape, but I’ll get back in the gym.”
Martin, who is headed to Lincoln College next season, scored 13 points in the second half, one that saw his Black squad lead by double digits for a large majority.
Although Williams, a guard from Danville who finished with six points, could not connect with Martin on any highlight-reel plays, Martin was a force inside and did finish with a nice one-handed dunk on a fastbreak.
The same could be said for Donald McKinley outside. The guard from Urbana complemented Martin’s interior presence on the Black team with 15 points, including three three-pointers. Ironically, McKinley finished with the fewest three-pointers during the halftime three-point contest among the 19 shooters, only making one. He doubled that output during a two-minute stretch in the second half to give his Black team a 59-44 lead with 11 minutes, 57 seconds remaining.
“The first half, I wasn’t in the groove yet,” said the uncommitted McKinley, who added 12 rebounds that left him tied for top honors with John Taylor (Heritage) of the Gold squad. “I still had some rust in me. We got to running in the second half, and we started to get in the feel of the game.”
The Gold team — which received 15 points apiece from Centennial’s Phillip Wright (including a game-high three dunks) and Oakwood’s Kyle Elliott — only led on three occasions. All three came early in the first half, and after a jumper by Matt Restad of Unity (six points) gave the Gold team a 10-9 lead in the game’s first five minutes, the Black team responded with a 12-0 run during the next three minutes. Guard Chris Hoult of Chrisman (seven points) capped off the spurt with a three-pointer to put the Black squad ahead 21-10 with 11:42 remaining in the first half.
“There’s so much talent out there, it’s just kind of mixing it up out there,” Black coach Kevin Roy of Monticello said. “You’re trying to get a good mix of kids together. You always want to have some shooting guards and some forwards so you have good balance out there.”
And athleticism, which Roy had plenty of in Martin and McKinley.
Even though Roy might not see that type of play in the Okaw Valley Conference often, he had a simple strategy for Sunday: don’t give them many restrictions.
“They play the game above the rim and elevate,” he said. “They create for other people and create for themselves. They’ve got the freedom to go out there and break guys down off the dribble. That athleticism out there is just fun to watch.”
Jeff Lavin, Centennial
The sharp-shooting guard only made one three-pointer during the game for his Gold team and finished with five points, but he was nearly flawless at halftime. He represented the Chargers well by making 11 of his 15 attempts to easily win the three-point contest.
Brad Herrmann, Mahomet-Seymour
The forward was a bright spot on an otherwise forgettable outside shooting performance by the Gold team. Herrmann connected on 2 of 5 from three-point range and finished with 12 points and eight rebounds. Without him, the Gold winds up 3 of 27 from beyond the three-point line.
Krys McClure, Judah Christian
The forward showed he wasn’t shy about going up against large-school opponents. McClure compiled nine points and eight rebounds for the winning Black team, forming a solid 1-2 punch with the game’s MVP, Xavier Martin from Central.