As North Stafford boys basketball coach Steve Hibberd barked instructions to the Home team in the Area All-Star Classic Saturday night at Riverbend, it was apparent this was no ordinary senior showcase.

Hibberd called timeouts and diagrammed plays.

He stuck with a core group of five starters during crucial stretches of the contest.

His players were equally prideful in their performance. Five players scored in double-figures, led by former Massaponax standout Nick Pullum’s 20.

Terrel Coles (Riverbend), Lakin Hall (Fredericksburg Academy) and David Ware (Caroline) added 17 apiece and the Home squad emerged with a 103–94 win over the Away team in front of more than 2,000 spectators in the Bears’ gymnasium.

Hibberd noted there was a 2½ hour practice session on Wednesday and that allowed the quartet along with Brooke Point’s Zavien Pressley (10 points) to gain familiarity with each other.

“We practiced and got to draft our teams and then put a little game plan in,” Hibberd said. “We’re not reinventing the wheel, but we got to see them pass, shoot and play. We tried to pick kids we thought would play well together. I love it. Two years of doing this and two wins. It’s the only time in my career I’ve been undefeated.”

Hall walked away with most valuable player honors. It’s the second year in a row a player from FA earned the award. Hall’s former teammate Ceeja Beckett earned MVP of last year’s game.

Ware won a halftime slam dunk contest, while Spotsylvania’s Blake Boggs of the Away team won the 3-point shootout.

Hall said he and his teammates were motivated by two Division–I recruits on the Away team. Bishop O’Connell guard Xavier Johnson, a former Spotsylvania County resident, scored a game-high 26 points on an array of dunks and drives to the basket. Johnson signed with Nebraska last fall but is reopening his recruitment after he was granted release from his national letter of intent.

“I grew up with Xavier Johnson,” Hall said. “He was talking before the game. But we just wanted to come out and have fun. Of course when it’s a D-I player out there you’ve got to try to make a name for yourself. That’s just how it is.”

Former Massaponax guard Keynante Williams, who later transferred to Rock Creek Christian Academy in Upper Marlboro, Md., scored 15 points for the Away team. He orally committed to Army last week.

Coles emphatically blocked Johnson late in the game and made a conscious effort to defend the 6-foot-3 dynamo.

“One of the reasons I picked [Coles] on the team is we played him three times this year,” Hibberd said. “And three times he was an issue. That kid plays hard. He’s smart. He’s an athlete. I don’t know if he’s playing ball anywhere but he might need to. He was playing good ‘D’ on that kid and Xavier’s different. He’s a stud and everybody knows it.”

girls game

home 51, away 36

Earlier in the evening, the Home team triumphed in the girls game by 15 points. Former Colonial Forge standout Shakira Austin, who has signed with Maryland, was in attendance but did not play.

Caroline point guard Mykaila Smith (11 points) was named MVP as she struck a balance between scoring and dishing to her teammates. Former Mountain View standout Jeane Robinson, who played her senior year at Woodbridge, scored a game-high 19 points, including four 3-pointers.

Smith said “it felt real good” playing one final high school game.

“I miss playing in this jersey a lot,” Smith said. “I love this jersey. I might not give it back.”

Robinson said she and Smith have been friends and it was a memorable experience playing together. Robinson’s former Mountain View teammate Kayla Jackson paced the Away team with 10 points. North Stafford’s Ali Smith and Caroline’s NyAsia Brown added eight apiece.

“It was fun to come back to an all-star game like this,” Robinson said. “Coming back to the community and seeing everybody was really cool.”

Erin Ryder of Orange won the girls’ 3-point shootout.

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Taft Coghill Jr: 540/374-5526 tcoghill@freelancestar.com

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