Area’s best players convene at Azusa Pacific
By Scott Galetti, Staff Writer
Bragging rights are just one of the things at stake tonight when the Pasadena Star-News boys and girls basketball teams take on their rivals from the East San Gabriel Valley in the fifth annual Tribune/Star-News All-Star basketball classic at Azusa Pacific Universitys Felix Event Center.
More importantly for the selected athletes, its a chance to shine one last time on the basketball court as high-school players.
The Star-News girls will face the San Gabriel Valley Tribune girls at 5:30 with the Star-News boys taking on the Tribune boys at around 7:30.
La Canada head coach Tom Hofman is the Star-News boys coach, while Blairs David Jensen is coaching the girls.
Headlining the Star-News teams will be Star-News boys Player of the Year Keion Bell and girls Player of the Year Cherrish Wallace.
Monrovias Marcus Monroe scored 21 points to lift the Star-News to a 115-106 victory last year to take a 3-1 lead in the series.
Covinas Blaire Egardo scored 16 points to help the Tribune tie the series at 2-2 with a 64-56 win.
Bell, a standout for Pasadena High School after transferring from L.A. Serra, led the Bulldogs in scoring, averaging nearly 22 points per game. He scored 30 points six times in Pacific League play this past season and eight times overall.
Tonight, however, Bell, who signed a letter of intent to play for Pepperdine University on Wednesday, is happy just to be a part of the contest as a representative of the Waves.
I think its an honor to be recognized as one of the top players in the area, Bell said. Its my first game representing a university so I have to show off all the facets of my game and not just play for myself.
Bell will join Renaissance Academys Justin Cook, who played travel ball with Bell, as well as Bulldogs teammate Marcus Harvey, La Canadas Will Baldwin and Marshalls Dorian Hampton against the best the Tribune has to offer.
Tribune Player of the Year Dominic Tiger-Cortes of Glendora leads the Tribune squad.
Other players to watch are Bonitas Troy Prather and Covinas Swing Chuang.
Tiger-Cortes is planning on showing the Star-News whose boss.
I want to win this game, I really do, Tiger-Cortes said. Theyve owned us for a while and you only get one chance to walk out with bragging rights as a senior.
If things are looking pretty scary Ill have to pull out some tricks and work that Glendora magic one more time.
While hes humbled by being in the game, Bell isnt overly concerned about Tiger-Cortes and intends to do some magical things of his own to help his team win the game.
I dont really know who he is, Bell said. To me, I dont think I have to do too much. Justin Cook and I are planning to take over.
Everybody is going to have fun but the team that really wants to win is the team that will win. Its not just about playing individually.
Bell will have an opportunity to shine individually in the slam-dunk contest and plans to show off his exceptional leaping ability.
Im going to bring a lot of stuff for the dunk contest, so everybody better get their camcorders and popcorn ready, Bell said.
In the girls game, Wallace, who will play for Baylor University next season, will join Blairs Stephanie DeFrance and Mustang teammate Chrishawn Frierson.
I didnt know that we had this much talent around our local cities and it should be a fun game, Wallace said.
Wallace and company will battle a talent-laden Tribune squad led by Temple-bound Kristen McCarthy of Bishop Amat, Walnuts Richele Najera and Covinas Chantel Diaz.
I just want to have fun and its going to be emotional because its my last game in California, Wallace said
La Canadas Leeza Sanfilippo is enjoying the experience of playing with the top stars from the area.
Its really cool because during league, weve played against some of these girls so its been really neat playing with them rather than against them, and I think well do pretty well against the other girls, Sanfilippo said.
Sanfilippo is even having fun with Jensens tough workouts.
Its a lot more hardcore than I expected, Sanfillippo said. Theres been a lot of sprinting and running, but its been working.