Sixth annual Star-News/Tribune All-Star Game

Saturday, April 4, 2009
Azusa Pacific University
Girls 5:30 p.m. / Boys 7:30 p.m.

It didn’t take long for them to acquaint themselves. And a simple lob pass drove home the point.

In the first Star-News boys basketball practice last week at Temple City High, Alhambra’s Aeric Allen was getting ready to inbound the ball from half court.

Despite never having played with big men this season, Allen saw eye-to-eye with Pasadena’s Travis Flye.

Nobody expected the lob and dunk, but that’s exactly what transpired.

“We were all just amazed,” said Temple City coach Rich Hollinger, who will coach the Star-News boys Saturday in the sixth annual Star-News/Tribune All-Star Game at Azusa Pacific University.

“My son, who is a fifth-grader, was excited to see them all dunk.”

Practice was surreal. Many had never played against a tall front court such as that of Joe Henson (6-foot-9) and Flye (6-8) – with the exception of Muir’s Paul King, who played against the Bulldogs in the Pacific League.

“For a lot of them, it’s an eye-opener to play with the Pasadena kids,” Hollinger said. “It’s fun to see them interact.”

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Logistically, there are hurdles some coaches go through when put in charge of coaching all-stars. But this experience has been the complete opposite for Hollinger.

“Certainly personalities stick out,” Hollinger said.

“I thought getting everybody to share the ball would have been a problem, but it’s been great.

“From the first day, everybody’s been here. I thought there would be some attitudes, but they’re all super kids.”

Hollinger, who will be joined by his assistants, Peter Chow and Eric Chin, was the subject of Henson’s prowess at practice.

“We were playing a fastbreak drill or something, and out of nowhere I got dunked on by Henson,” Hollinger said with a laugh.

“I walked into class the next day and everybody knew about it.”

ODDS AND ENDS

* Hollinger will narrow down the final three who will take part in the slam dunk and 3-point contests. Muir coach Gary Johnson, who will coach the girls all-stars, chose to go with South Pasadena’s Nicol Biesek, Muir’s Paige Robinson and Keppel’s Tiffany Rubin.

* Monrovia’s Vanessa Hernandez still is reeling from having four wisdom teeth pulled last week. She missed the team’s first two practices but participated Tuesday night at Muir High. She’s expected to play Saturday.

* Johnson previously coached the girls all-star team a few years ago, but he was impressed with this year’s selection. Specifically, Johnson couldn’t stop raving about Biesek’s quickness and leadership and the mid-range jumper of Keppel’s Janise Ho.

* Some are wondering why Star-News girls basketball Player of the Year Eliza Pierre of Muir is not on the Star-News/Tribune All-Star girls roster. It’s because Pierre is playing in this other all-star game called the McDonald’s All-American Game at Bank United Center in Miami.