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LITHONIA (GA) – There is only one venue on a basketball court where Stephen Curry-deep 3’s, isolation plays by whoever has the ball and defensive lapses will not get high school ball players yelled at by their coach–a county senior all-star game.
On March 23 at Miller Grove High, the top players from the DeKalb County schools had one more chance to show off their skills, at least on offense, at the 2017 Senior All-Star game.
Kenton Eskridge (Columbia) led all scorers with 27 points for the East team but MVP Jahsun McNeil (Clarkston) countered with 23 to lead the West’s squad attack in a 100-95 final.
“Everybody we played against I’ve been playing against since middle school so it was like a regular pickup game,” McNeil said. “But at the end of the day my team got to get the W.”
At these types of contests, fans want to see plenty of dunks, shots from the 3-point arc (31 shots from deep went through the net in the game) and one-on-one moves that leave defenders shaking their heads.
The 6-2 McNeil did a little of all of this on his way to leaving with the MVP trophy. The high-flying guard had two dunks and sank four 3-pointers.
During halftime there was a dunk contest between Collins Joseph (Tucker), Emory Johnson (M.L. King), Glenn Robinson (Chamblee) and McNeil, who also earned a plaque reading “2017 Slam Dunk Competition Champion.”
If Shaquille O’Neal was a judge, McNeil wouldn’t have had any problem getting perfect scores as well since he converted both of his dunks (a between-the-legs toss off the backboard for a two-handed slam in the first round and a one-handed slam over two stationary players in the final round) on the first attempt.
As a bonus, McNeil jumped over a stationary player while grabbing the ball, putting it between his legs and finishing the highlight with a left-handed dunk.
“That was just crazy,” McNeil said. “I tried it a couple of times. Some days I can do it and some days I can’t but today I was able to do those dunks and take the championship home with me. This was my first contest in front of people. It was a fun experience. I was just glad I was able to convert them on the big stage.”
When play resumed in the second half, Eskridge put on a shooting clinic from deep. The sharpshooter sank seven of his nine 3-pointers in that time span.
“It was a great event,” Eskridge said. “I liked it. I tried to fill it up and it was a great way to go out. I feel like I hit 10 threes though.”
Julian Larkins (Stephenson) scored 14 points, Darius Giles (Arabia Mountain) added 11 and Joshua Jackmon (Miller Grove) and Aloy Ufere (Stephenson) both had 10 for the West.
Azarius Cole (Stone Mountain) scored 16 points for the East team and Cameron Starkes (Lakeside) added 11.
After the first quarter, the West led by 12 points and ended the half ahead 56-41. The East pulled even in latter minutes of the third quarter and early in the fourth before the West rebuilt a comfortable margin en route to the victory.