All-Star game

Altamont’s Jerod Ruffner steals the ball from Sangamon County’s Cameron Calhoun during the 28th Annual Central Illinois Boys All-Star game at St. Anthony High School Sunday evening.

In the 27 years of the games existence, the Central Illinois Boys All-Star game never went into extra period until Sunday evening. In an ironic twist where COVID took away sports, the all-star game was decided not by one, two-minute extra period, but by a second, two-minute overtime period.

North Clay’s Ethan Bible nailed a three-pointer, his third of the contest, with just nine seconds left in the extra frame giving the National Trail Conference a 94-93 win over the Lincoln Prairie Conference all-stars.

“It sure was good to see Ethan Bible step up there at the end and hit some big shots. He’s done that for us for three years at Louisville,” NTC and North Clay head coach Josh Zink said. “So it was neat to see on a bigger stage and see him do that again.”

St. Anthony’s Kennan Walsh raced the ball down the court, and passed the ball cross court to Bible.

“I felt good. It was a great pass from a teammate. I was just grateful to just be able to play today with a great group of guys,” Bible said. “It was super exciting to play with a great group of guys.”

Bible said he knew it was going in.

“Seen teammates come up and got a perfect pass from Kennan (Walsh). I was zoned in. After the release I knew it was good.”

Zink had called a timeout in the first overtime but said they didn’t draw a specific play.

“We didn’t call it up. We don’t draw a lot of stuff up in all-star games. I would have loved to have called a timeout, but at the same time, I wanted the boys to play it out,” he said. “We talked about if we scored to make sure we stop the ball and get back as quick as we could. Of course we got burnt in the first overtime with the bank shot, so we were gun shy there at the end. The guys stepped up and got a nice little steal and nice little basket and went up by one.”

Altamont’s Jerod Ruffner drew a foul on a rebound from a hurried LPC shot attempt with .7 seconds remaining, sealing the win for the NTC.

“It’s definitely been a roller coaster,” Bible said. “I’m super grateful that we wre able to play this year. Super happy that we got some kind of season even if it was with masks.”

It wasn’t that close in the first half.

The LPC rained threes the entire contest, splitting 14 between both halves and the two extra periods.

Cumberland’s Brennyn Cutts, led all scorers with 20 points was named the LPC’s Most Valuable Player. Cutts had 4 three-pointers in the first half, and five total, helping the LPC take a 42-35 lead into the break.

“It means to the world to me. I, myself, wasn’t sure if I was going to play basketball this year. I thought I was just going to focus on baseball and get stronger. I’m glad I decided to come out. I scored my 1000th point and broke the three-point record,” Cutts Said. “It means the world to me. I wouldn’t take it back.

I was just glad to be out here with all these guys. They’re all great to play with. To play against them all these years, it was great to play with them. I was amped up to play with them. I felt good coming out here.”

On his three-point onslaught Cutts laughed.

“I was feeling good coming in. I haven’t been shooting much,” he said. “I was kind of lucky.”

The NTC chipped away in the second period. St. Anthony’s Logan Antrim, who finished with 12 points, put the NTC up by one giving them a 83-82 lead, their first in the second half with under a minute to play. Dieterich’s Jack Westendorf, who finished with eight points, picked up a loose ball and bulldozed his way to score a layup giving the NTC a three-point lead.

Tri-County’s CJ Eakle hit a three as time expired sending the game into overtime.

“You can’t leave guys open in these games. We left a guys open early on. They were hitting shots. You have to give them credit when they hit shots,” Zink said. “At the same time, there were a bunch of little things that we could have done a better job of. In an all-star game, you emphasize trying to get the ball to the basket and have a good time with the guys.”

The game is normally hosted at Cumberland High School, but St. Anthony volunteered to host it this year due to COVID.

“At the time the decision to have or not have this game, was right after the season on March 13th. We were the only school willing to allow visiting fans in knowing the game was going to be a month later and things were going to change we could provide and immediate time, date, and place,” he said. “We helped out where we could. The biggest reason being: we wanted to provide these kids an opportunity and a group of seniors that have missed out on so much this past year. We wanted to be able to provide an opportunity to provide something traditional and we made it happen.”

Rincker was the NTC head coach a couple years ago and Zink was his assistant. This year it was flipped and the North Clay coach brought his dad to watch.

“I told my dad I won’t have it for another nine years so I needed the win,” he said. “That’s a long time off with a loss. [Zink’s father] said it was all coaching. I agreed with him!”

Notes: Cumberland’s Brennyn Cutts was named the LPC’s most valuable player while St. Anthony’s Seth Hotze was named the NTC’s most valuable player. After getting out of the elimination round, ALAH’s Austin Plank won the three-point contest at halftime.

National Trail Conference

35 40 45 94

Lincoln Prairie Conference

42 43 44 93

LPC

Rocke 7; Romine 6; Garza 5; Quick 14; Hemmen 2; Napier 8; Cutts 20; Eakle 13; McClain 7; Eversole 9; Nohren 2.

Three pointers: Rock 1; Quick 4; Cutts 5; Eakle 2; McClain 1; Eversole 1.

NTC

Budde 3; Eirhart 13; Ruffner 6; Westendorf 8; Bible 10; Antrim 12; Walsh 13; Hotze 18; McWhorter 4;

Three pointers: Budde 1; Eirhart 3; Bible 3; Antrim 1; Walsh 1; Nuxoll 3.

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