Last year’s results of the Tribune/Star-News All-Star Classic haven’t sat well with many on the Pasadena-side of the San Gabriel Valley.
Both the Tribune girls and boys teams posted easy wins to sweep the games and will be looking for more on Friday when the rivalry for the Valley’s top senior basketball talent is renewed. Tip off for the girls game is at 5:30 p.m. The boys game will follow at 7:30. Both are at Damien High.
There will be a 3-point shooting contest at halftime of both games.
The Tribune leads the all-time boys series 6-5 and is favored to add to the lead thanks to players like the Damien tandem of Jeremy Hemsley and Malik Fitts. As loaded as the Tribune looks, Star-News boys coach Tim Tucker of Maranatha isn’t buying that his team is going to get run out of the building.
“It’s kind of funny to me, the arrogance of the east side and what they think,” Tucker said. “It’s not like they’ve blown us out. Every time we’ve played them the last couple years, half our team hasn’t shown up. I think, for the west side, we have to start taking the game more serious. I think they take it more serious than we do.
“I think that also has to do with the home-court advantage. Our fans don’t want to drive out there. But we’re coming to win. Simple and plain. I’m tired of the talk and the arrogance on that side, like they’re Kentucky and we’re Pasadena City College or something.”
Although Tucker won’t have the area’s top player in Tyler Dorsey, who will be playing in the Jordan Brand All-Star Game in New York this weekend, he will have a strong complement of standouts capable of bringing back a win.
Renaissance Academy guard Marquise Mosley is the best player in the Valley nobody has ever heard of. There’s good size with 6-foot-10 Cantwell center Gligorije Rakocevic and 6-foot-5 Duarte post player Josh Dorsey.
But as good as the Star-News is at certain positions, the game still comes down to Hemsley, Fitts and Damien teammate Micah Robinson playing their final prep game on their home court. Then throw in other area standouts like Glendora’s AJ Birgonia and Los Altos’ Christian Espinoza, and it’s easy to see why that the Tribune has no holes.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who are good shooters, good 3-point shooters, drivers/slashers and definitely we’ve got some good dunkers,” said Tribune head coach Jeff Lucas of Los Altos. “Almost everybody on this team can shoot the ball. They all can put the ball on the floor. It should be a good game, obviously.”
The last time Star-News girls coach Joe Kikuchi of Keppel participated in the game was two years ago and his team came up on the short end of the scoreboard. It was a win the Tribune girls team used to help take what’s now a 6-5 series lead.
Kikuchi returns with a powerful roster led by Maranatha’s Channon Fluker, Keppel point guard Lauren Saiki and South Pasadena forward Lexie Scholtz. The goal has been very simple in practice for the Star-News and that’s quite simply to win and get some respect for their side of town.
“No. 1, I always want to win and these girls always want to win,” Kikuchi said. “I really wasn’t happy about losing last time. The thing I wasn’t happy with is that we were so small and we would have to use our speed and defense to make up for our lack of height. But with the rules of not being able to press, we really couldn’t maintain anything and just wore down because they were bigger.”
The Tribune is coached by South Hills’ Tiffany Liang and led by the Huskies’ Brittany Wang. The Tribune is guard heavy, so getting into a shootout rather than a slug fest may prove beneficial to their chances.
“They’re very unselfish players,” Liang said of her team. “We want them to not be afraid to shoot the ball when they’re open.”