There were approximately 1,700 people on hand Saturday at the 25th annual Chicken Express All-Star Basketball Classic. In true March-madness style, two 20-minute periods were played, with each player being guaranteed four minutes per half of playing time.
The East-West battle for the goal was intense as the best players from area schools went into action Saturday at the Mineral Wells High School gymnasium. The players were chosen to represent their schools by their coaches. They brought with them their honors ranging from all-district to all-tournament and all-state. There were representatives from the 14-county surrounding area for both boys and girls teams.
The girls game was, as always, first.
At the half, the score was East 38 to West 46. The East made a comeback in the last half, scoring 48 points, while allowing the West to score only 34. The final score of the East-West game was East 86, West 80.
Lady Rabbit Sydney Wimberly, from Graford, was District 11, Class 1A, Division II’s Offensive Player of the Year, averaging 14.1 points per game, with 6.1 steals, 0.8 blocks, 4.2 assists and 7.6 rebounds.
East team member Wimberly scored four points and had one rebound Saturday.
Lady Longhorn Tristen Johnson from Gordon had scored 10 points per game, with four steals, seven rebounds and had All-District honors.
East team member Johnson scored 12 points and had two rebounds.
Lady Ram Courtney Peña, of Mineral Wells High School, had earned First-Team All-District 6-3A honors, after averaging 8.3 points per game, with 3.6 steals, 4.1 assists and 4.2 rebounds for the season.
West team member Peña scored three points Saturday.
Also on the West team was point guard Breanna Raffaele from Santo.
Raffaele was named Co-Most Valuable Player of District 11, Class 1A, Division 1, and Class 1A, Division 1, All-State tournament. She had to face off against Lady Cat teammate Taylor Nemeth, a first-team, all-district post, playing on the East team.
Raffaele’s record showed that she had averaged 8.9 points per game, with 3.1 steals, 4.5 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game and Nemeth’s record showed that she had averaged 10 points per game, with 2.2 steals, two blocks, 1.8 assists and 9.1 rebounds, during the season.
In the game Saturday, Raffaele scored three points, two rebounds, three assists and one steal.
Nemeth scored 20 points and had four rebounds and was awarded the honor of Most Valuable Player for the East team.
“I was very pleased with both girls,” noted Coach Tony Raffaele. “Taylor played an awesome game and deserved the MVP.”
Raffaele said that his daughter still has one final game to play in the Texas Girls Coaches Association All-Star game and says she has hopes to continue playing at the next level, most likely at the University of Texas in Tyler. Nemeth plans to attend South Plains College in Lubbock in the fall.
During halftime, the Mineral Wells Area Chamber of Commerce and Chicken Express awarded a $1,000 scholarship to Bria McCullough, of Cleburne, for winning a three-point shooting contest.
Murphy Graham from Decatur was named West MVP.
The Chicken Express All-Star Classic boys game began at 4 p.m.
At the half, the score was West 47 to East 61. The final score was West 111 to East 105.
Graford Jackrabbit Dylan Hart, representing as a regional finalist, had averaged 11 points per game, with 1.5 steals, 0.2 blocks 1.2 assists and 6.7 rebounds.
Hart scored 10 points and had two rebounds for the East team.
He plans to attend Weatherford College.
Santo Wildcat Cooper Barling had an average of 11 points per game, with three steals, 6.1 assists and 2.4 rebounds.
Barling had one rebound and one assist in the game Saturday for the East team.
He plans to attend the University of Texas in Arlington.
Santo Wildcat Zarmorris Cannon had an average of 21 points per game, with 1.3 steals, two blocks, 2.2 assists and 12.05 rebounds.
Cannon scored 10 points in the game and had eight rebounds Saturday for the West team.
Ty Ballard from Peaster was named East MVP.
Alex Rodriguez from Poolville was named West MVP.
The winner of the $1,000 scholarship for the boys three-point shooting contest was Malik Taylor, from Stephenville.