INA, Ill. – The 32nd Annual Benton Lions Club All-Star Basketball Classic will take place Friday night on the hardwood at Rend Lake College’s James “Hummer” Waugh Gymnasium. The girls’ game will tip-off first at 6 p.m., followed by the boys’ game at 8 p.m.
The event features the best in boys’ and girls’ high school basketball from the area with more than 50 players representing over 25 schools. The price of admission is only $5 for adults and $3 for students. A dunk contest will take place in between games and a three-point shoot-out will take place at halftime of each game. MVP awards will be presented at the conclusion of each game.
“We consider it a privilege to be able to showcase the talents of the top senior boys and girls in Southern Illinois,” said Dave Severin with the Benton Lions Club. “We do this for two reasons; to showcase their talents – and most of us in the Lions Club are sports fans – and it’s a fundraiser. All the money we raise stays in Franklin County. The Lions Club buys eyeglasses for people who can’t afford them. We also raise money for three scholarships to Rend Lake College, which are awarded to Benton High School students each year.”
The All-Star Classic started with the boys in 1979 at Rich Herrin Gym in Benton. It has since moved to RLC, which Severin said is a “fantastic” venue for the event. Since organizers began designating teams by color in 2002, Purple has won five of eight. The Gold Team will have to break a four-year Purple win streak if it is to carry home the 2010 crown.
The boys’ Gold Team (Home Team) is being coached by Mike Crews (DuQuoin) and Rich Williams (Sparta), and is made up of JR Woodard (Anna-Jonesboro), Charles Cannon (Carlyle), Chris Baker (Century), Jared Fourez (Christopher), Matt Gossett (DuQuoin), Duke Griesemer (Hamilton County), Nick Lewis (Marion), DreShean Payne (Murphysboro), Brock Pries (Nashville), Jacob Frederking (Okawville), Tyler Brammeier (Okawville), Drew Dudek (Pinckneyville), Shay Kellerman (Pinckneyville), Dartanus White (Sparta), Brock Wheatley (Waltonville), Joseph Lewis (Waltonville), Skyler Witges (Waltonville), and Casey Hammond (Woodlawn).
The boys’ Purple Team (Away) is being coached by Jeff Mandrell (Meridian) and Jaime Moyers (Zeigler-Royalton), and consists of Wyatt Kirkland (Carrier-Mills), Lucas Elverd (Harrisburg), Brandon Webb (Hamilton County), Justin Webb (Hamilton County), Isaiah Powell (Marion), Davonte McClung (Meridian), Endrico Amos (Meridian), Jordan Weiss (Norris City-Omaha-Enfield), Cody Ettienne (NCOE), Seth Short (NCOE), Dane Eubanks (Sesser-Valier), TJ Eubanks (Sesser-Valier), Justin Matyi (Sesser-Valier), Kendall Gibson (Sesser-Valier), Miles Tinsley (Sesser-Valier), Tyler Davis (Shawnee), Drake Sanders (Vienna), Tyler Mitchell (Zeigler-Royalton) and Jimmy Stevens (Zeigler-Royalton).
Current RLC Warrior Dustin Winter of Pinckneyville won the 2009 Three-Point Shooting award with RLC baseball’s Zach Labuwi (Benton) taking MVP honors and Meridian’s Randall Hite soaring to the dunk championship.
The girl’s Lions Club All-Star Classic started in 1981. Recorded are four wins apiece for the Purple and Gold Teams since the color format was introduced in 2002. The girls’ Purple and Gold teams have alternated victories over the past six years with Gold winning in 2004, 2006 and 2008. Will the trend continue and make 2010 Gold’s chance to shine again? Or will Purple break the cycle and become the back-to-back winner for its first time?
Coaching the Purple Team (Away) for the girls will be Eric Helbig of Woodlawn and Brian Gibson of Sesser-Valier. Their roster consists of Imari O’Neal (Centralia), Destiny Spence (Massac County), Nykeshia Dowell (Murphysboro), Annie Borowiak (Nashville), Brooklyn Vaughn (Pope County), Lorena Marlo (Sesser-Valier), Cheryl Delbene (Sesser-Valier) and Alyssa Hall (Zeigler-Royalton-Christopher).
Coaching the Gold Team (Home) for the girls will be Eric Dixon (Carmi-White County) and Clint Winemiller (Hamilton County). Their roster includes Katelyn Weaver (Carmi-White County), Shauna Whitley (Carmi-White County), Alexis York (Hamilton County), Destiny Spence (Massac County), McKenzie Newman (Nashville), Kate Laird (Sesser-Valier), Ashley Slack (Sesser-Valier), Gena Jones (West Frankfort) and Lily Furlow (Zeigler-Royalton-Christopher).
The 2009 girls’ Three-Point champ was Brittany Hood of Goreville and Herrin’s Zadalzha Benjamin took home the MVP award.
For additional information, contact Severin at 618-435-5555.