SHREVEPORT — A heavy dose of Baylor-signee Kalani Brown of Salmen High after halftime, along with some stingy defense, allowed the East All-Stars to dominate the West All-Stars 86-65 in Saturday afternoon’s Louisiana High School Coaches Association Girls All-Star game at Hirsch Coliseum.
Featuring some of the top players in the state, the seniors-only event capped the prep careers for the 30 players, and gave winning coach Nancy Walsh of Cabrini some respite from her doldrums.
“After my team lost in the playoffs, I needed to get back in the gym, because I’m a gym rat,” said Walsh, a first-time All-Star coach. “I’m not sure how I was selected for this, but I’ve had a blast coaching these great athletes.”
That included Brown, who picked up three fouls in the game’s first five minutes and spent most of the first half on the bench. Brown’s absence allowed the West to control things early with its small, quick lineup.
“We weren’t playing defense as hard as we should have in the first half,” said Brown, who celebrated her 18th birthday by earning the game’s MVP honor. “But we made some adjustments at halftime and did what we were supposed to do, playing more team ball.”
Although the West team controlled the first half behind some local stars, Brown was unstoppable down low after halftime. Although she played an equal amount of time with the other 10 roster members on her squad, she finished with 16 points. Mount Carmel’s Taylor Berry also had 16 points, and Wichita State-signee Jyar Francis of Ponchatoula had 14 for the East.
“With their size in the fullcourt, it was tough on us,” West coach Sheila Dupree of Plain Dealing said. “They took us out of what we were trying to do. But I enjoyed this entire experience.”
The West pushed out to a 25-13 lead in the first half after a pair of buckets by Ville Platte’s Deja McKinney, who led the West with 13 points.
But the East trimmed the deficit to just 25-20 with 7:10 to play in the half behind six points apiece from Francis and Mikayla Bates of University High.
Kaylen Collins of Vermilion Catholic scored for the West with about a minute remaining in the half to stake her team to a 40-35 halftime advantage.
But the West was held without a field goal until over six minutes had passed in the second half, as the East went on a 14-1 run to take charge. Anna Claire Shaw of Lake Arthur added 11 points for the West.