Ninth Annual Tribune/Star News All-Star Basketball Classic tonight at Damien High School

Tonight at Damien High
Girls game, 4 p.m.; Boys game, 6 p.m.

Boys: Tribune 98, Star-News 87, Star-News leads series, 5-3.
Girls: Tribune 80, Star-News 69, Star-News leads series, 5-3.

Above: Northview’s Treavon Francis could have a big night for the Trib

By Aram Tolegian, Staff Writer
Exactly which side of the Valley has the best prep basketball talent will be decided tonight at Damien High School when the Tribune/Star-News All-Star Classic conducts its ninth renewal.

Tipoff for the girls game is at 4 p.m. The boys game will follow, at approximately 6 p.m.

A revenge setting is what the Star-News boys and girls teams find themselves in after the Tribune produced a clean sweep of the event last year. However, the Star-News still holds the lead in both series with identical 5-3 records.

“We’ll win this year,” Star-News coach Tim Tucker said. “We’re more prepared. Practice is more intense.”

If things are going to change this year in the boys game, the Star-News will need to find answer for the Tribune’s sizable front court tandem of Damien’s 6-foot-7 Chris Reyes and South Hills’ 6-9 Korey Serna.

Adding to the Tribune’s prowess are All-Area standouts Garrett Horine of Bonita and Treavon Francis of Northview.

The Star-News team will be no slouch and with Pasadena’s Tim Tucker as coach, there’s no doubt the all-stars from the west will be playing to win. Tucker has plenty of talent to work with, led by the Pasadena duo of Blake Hamilton and John Haywood. Muir’s Dion Nelson is another weapon at Tucker’s disposal, and there’s no doubt the game has special meaning to Nelson after Muir’s season was cut short right before the playoffs due to an illegal transfer.

“When I start to really think about it it hurts a little bit,” Nelson said of his year being cut short. “When I reminisce how good we were, it actually stings a little bit. I got over it. It was just fun to come back and play again.”

The Tribune coaching tandem of Covina’s Will Bissman and Wilson’s Jason Rochwerg know that despite their size edge inside, being able to handle Pasadena’s quickness and defensive pressure may very well be the key to victory.

“We just think they’re going to be very athletic and we know Tucker is going to coach them up to try and win the game,” Bissman said. “That’s all we expect from them. We’re definitely mentioning to the kids that the Star-News is up 5-3 in the series and how we want them to end their careers by shortening that lead.”

In the girls game, fans will be treated to a battle of two of the CIF-Southern Section’s top scorers in Pasadena Poly’s Michelle Miller and Workman’s Evelyn Herrera. Miller averaged 32.5 points per game this season. Herrera averaged 26.7.

As good as Miller and Herrera are, the talent runs much deeper on both rosters. The Tribune team boasts the Diamond Ranch duo of Chelsea Barnes and Tyvette White. Bonita’s Brianna Kennedy, a 6-foot-3 center, will play next season at Loyola Marymount. Bishop Amat’s Kaysee Tayag and Covina’s Ashli Baddorf give Tribune coach Nick Masi even more scoring options.

“We’re trying to score 100 points in this game,” Masi said. “I think our guard play is the strength of this team. We’re going to be trying to get up and down the court.”

The Star-News appears up to the challenge of a shootout. In addition to Miller, the team has another dynamic scorer in Monrovia’s Gina Henderson.

The Star-News will be coached by Keppel’s Hon Trieu and Poly’s Kim Weber.

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