After competing against each other for most of their careers, basketball players from the nine East Baton Rouge Parish high schools competed together on the same court Sunday afternoon.
The East boys defeated the West 103-84, while the East girls completed the sweep with an 87-57 victory at the Bonne-Sante Wellness Center on Baton Rouge Community College’s campus.
But scores aside, the reason for the game, as director Marvin Trotter put it, was to bring a much-needed spotlight to East Baton Rouge basketball.
“We needed a chance to celebrate our own students,” said Trotter, the assistant to the East Baton Rouge superintendent. “Often times we get lumped in with other schools, so this was a push to promote and begin to brand our district.”
Another reason for the game was to have a good time and Sunday’s game was fun for the players, coaches and those in attendance. Players high-fived attendees after 3-point shots and danced to music while free throws were shot.
They were shooting 3-pointers like there was no tomorrow, and aside from one Keion Brown one-handed slam, failed on their attempts for highlight-reel dunks.
Everything about Saturday felt like an NBA All-Star game. Players even had team uniforms: black and white lettering for the East, white with black letters for the West.
Had there been any real stakes to the game —aside from the bragging rights — the shot selection would have made most coach’s blood boil. But as East coach Carlos Sample said, this game wasn’t about the final score. It was about letting the players show off their abilities.
“I just wanted to see some talent,” said Sample, who coached Scotlandville to the Class 5A state title earlier this month. “We don’t normally see these guys. You read about them, but you don’t really get a chance to see the kids in our parish. It was exciting for me to see them showcase their skills and talents.”
The West girls team was coached by Stephanie Helgeson of Woodlawn while the East was coached by Ella Reado of Belaire. Terrence Gillette coached opposite of Sample in the boys game.
All the teams had a Most Valuable Player: Scotlandville’s Celica Sterling and Broadmoor’s Honchea Thorton were the respective MVPs of the East and West girls teams. Glen Oaks’ Christopher Dancy and McKinley’s Keion Brown were the MVPs for the East and West boys.
“It took like five minutes (to adjust to one another),” Brown said. “But after a couple of minutes, we gelled together.”
“It went smooth. We all know how to play ball,” he said.
Trotter, the man who developed the idea to have the All-Star game, was pleased with the turnout.
“I think it’s one of those things that players have something to look forward to,” Trotter said. “Not everybody will get a scholarship, not everybody will get the notoriety, but this can be a chance to showcase our juniors and seniors. They can come together and play and have fun.”