Friends find fun times in All-Star game

Jacob Clanton, Sports Editor

The afternoon of the last day of school is reserved for hanging out with friends, doing something fun. For some Manhattan High students, that means playing basketball.

Unlike any other basketball game, this one is special. Dubbed the All-Star game, the game is played under NBA rules, including 12 minute quarters, leading to a high scoring affair.

“It seemed like everyone just really wanted to score,” junior Jonah Evarts said, “which is why the score was like 117-113. It is an All-Star game, I mean, just watch the NBA All-Star game, defense is a joke.”

Team Drake took the title this year, beating Team Choi 124-117. Evarts, the founder and organizer, was on Team Drake.

“I had to find out who the best fits for each team was that way it would be fair and it would be close at the end,” Evarts said, “because that makes it more fun.”

It didn’t seem like the game would be close early on. In the first half, Team Choi jumped out to a 15-point lead.

“We made shots, a lot of them,” said junior Nate Awbrey, a member of Team Choi. “We made a lot of shots, and we really had a mismatch. Anyone who Nik [Grubbs, junior] was guarding, we could just score on them.”

However, Team Drake wouldn’t go away quietly.

“We got back in the huddle,” junior Team Drake guard Dawson Stewart said, “and we just decided, you know, why not leave it all out on the court? Why not just give it [our] all, and just go out there and have fun, and just let it loose. That’s what we did and [it] paid off.”

Team Drake crawled back, trailing only 60-55 at the half. A big part of the comeback was junior John Ostermann. The eventual M.V.P. scored 16 points in the second quarter on his way to a game-high 48 points.

“Ball was just going in the hoop,” Ostermann said. “That’s as much as there is to it. I was shooting it up, ball was going in.”

The second half was a back-and-forth affair, with neither team able to hold a big lead for long.

“It was really fun … having them score,” Stewart said, “then us come back and score. It was just fun to play with no fear and just have fun with it.”

The offensive production stopped at the beginning of the fourth quarter, as neither team could hit a shot.

“I think it was everybody was getting tired,” Awbrey said. “I was tired, but everybody was tired that was what it was.”

Going into the final minutes, Team Drake held the advantage. Though Team Choi had playmakers that could close the gap, Team Drake wasn’t nervous.

“I wasn’t nervous,” Ostermann said. “I trust my teammates and I trust my team.”

The trust paid off, as Team Choi was unable to close the gap, losing 124-117. Ostermann was awarded his second straight M.V.P. award for his 48-point night.

“I’m overjoyed,” Ostermann said. “It’s a pretty incredible feeling to go back-to-back. [I] feel like Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Lebron [James]. I feel like all of them.”

Stewart was second in scoring on Team Drake with 38 points, while Grubbs added 12.

“I thought the drive was there,” Stewart said, “and just all my time in the weight room really paid off with the layups and stuff. I was confident in my ability, so just had fun with it honestly.”

For Team Choi, Awbrey, junior Joe Hirsch and alumni Robbie Ostermann all scored 27 points.

“I was just able to rise over people and knock down some shots,” Awbrey said. “Joe, he’s fast, got to the rim, and Robbie, he’s wet, just makes a lot of shots.”

This event was started last year as a way for the group of friends to have fun on the last day of school.

“A lot of people here aren’t like people who are on the basketball team or get to experience that kind of stuff,” Evarts said, “so I thought it would be fun for us to you know, kind of have that experience and play with the guys. I tried to tell the coaches before hand to let everybody play because that makes it fun for everyone. That’s really the point of the game.”

Even though friends are split between teams, the guys find the competition enjoyable.

“It’s so much fun just getting together with all our guys,” John said. “Team Choi is consisted of some of my best friends, Team Drake, my best friends are on Team Drake. Just to play and compete against them in a fun way is amazing.”

Though the game was only 48 minutes long, a lot of preparation went into it.

“I had to find out if we could use [Eisenhower Middle School],” Evarts said, “and then it was about choosing what colors we had for each team, and advertising on social media. I had an Instagram account and a Twitter account, and I was telling people about it so people would come watch.”

Although this year’s game was big, Evarts is planning for an even bigger event next year.

“We’re going to have a big one next year,” Evarts said. “If we could use Manhattan High School, that would be amazing, but I don’t know. We’re going to make a huge senior thing, because I mean, I might not even see some of these guys again after that, so it has to be like a special event next year.”

No matter how the game ends next year, the guys know they will have fun.

“It’s the last day of high school,” Awbrey said, “[and] it’s fun to play basketball with your friends.”