All-star games don’t typically go the distance, but the boys’ 13th annual Mid-Plains Area All-Star Game on Saturday had all the makings of a playoff atmosphere at McDonald-Belton Gymnasium.
Unwilling to accept defeat after losing the game’s largest lead in the second quarter, Hershey boys basketball coach Dustin Jorgenson and his black team rallied back on a 16-9 run that spanned the final 6 minutes, 38 seconds of the game to earn a 76-74 overtime win.
"You wanted it to be competitive, and it was definitely that," Jorgenson chuckled. "Both teams really got after it, and that had to have been fun for the fans to watch."
The 3-pointers rained early and consistently from the tipoff.
Both teams quickly combined for six 3-pointers in the opening quarter alone, but it was the black team that led 26-17 heading into the second.
Hershey’s Jacob Gosnell and Chase County’s Braden Space led the way for Jorgenson’s team, combining for 18 first half points and 43 altogether.
Gosnell, a Concordia commit, led all scorers with 24 points and 13 rebounds, while Space followed with 19 points — scoring 15 of those from beyond the arc.
"For these all-star games it’s all about offense, and we got going early," Jorgenson said. "But we didn’t rebound at times, and the other team started doing the little things to get back in it."
North Platte boys assistant coach Jimmie Pack and the gold team quickly swung the tables as a result, outscoring black 24-13 and snagging a 41-39 halftime lead.
Sutherland’s Ryan Richardson and Cameron Meyer led the gold team on the scoring end, combining for 27 of the team’s 74 points. Richardson finished with 14 and Meyer added 13, while North Platte’s Jack Mohr and Max Hayes followed with nine points apiece.
But it was Paxton’s Caden Schow and Kimball’s Isaac Reuter that helped the gold team survive a back-and-forth third quarter with a 56-53 lead heading into the final period.
And they would extend that lead by five — their largest lead of the game — in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter before the black team dived into a 7-2 run to tie the game at 67 and force overtime.
In the extra period, Jorgenson turned to his former center to seal the deal, drawing up plays for the 6-foot-9-inch Gosnell to make hay in the post by scoring the final four points.
"He’s a beast," Jorgenson said. "He’s such a good player with phenomenal footwork, and he really did a good job there in the end."
Former St. Pat’s Irish standout Kaleigh Kummer epitomized a walking bucket in Saturday’s Mid-Plains girls all-star game at McDonald-Belton Gymnasium.
"I’ve played against her for the past four years, and it’s really an honor when you get someone like her that can push the ball and get baskets in a hurry," Sandhills/Thedford and black team head coach Bec Ray said. "I was just real excited when I saw this roster and saw her name along with others that I know like to really push the ball."
The UNK commit and Lady Irish all-time leading scorer poured in 17 points in less than 16 minutes of action, leading the way for the black team’s 65-37 win on Saturday.
But it took some time for either team to get going.
After a sloppy, back-and-forth couple of minutes in the opening quarter, it was Ray’s team that jumped to a 16-2 run backed by nine gold squad turnovers, ending the first quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers from Kummer.
Unfortunately for Michael Jorgenson’s gold team, their slow start opened a gap that would only grow in size.
The black team extended their lead by as many as 19 points in the second quarter, waltzing into halftime with a comfortable 36-18 lead. Kummer led all scorers with 11 points at the half, drilling three from beyond the arc to go along with a floater in transition.
Despite eight points from Maywood/Hayes Center’s Jayden Widener — who finished with 12 points — the gold team fell on hard times to start the second half, allowing the black team to lead 50-26 after three quarters.
Hershey’s Ashley Hassett poured in 10 of her 12 points in the fourth quarter, helping the gold come within 19 — the closest they’d come in the second half.
Behind Sidney’s Janay Brauer, who drilled consecutive shots from beyond the arc, the black team ended the game on a 10-0 run.
"It was really exciting to see them go out and not hold back," Ray added. "Win or lose, I think it would’ve been just as fun to come out here and compete. We really had a blast laughing and talking to each other on the bench."