Madness in the Mother Lode All-Star Extravaganza:Saturday, April 13, 3 p.m. at Columbia College's Oak Pavilion, $10 general admission; $5 seniors, students
Some of the area's best hoopsters have been selected to compete in Columbia College's annual Madness in the Mother Lode All-Star Extravaganza this Saturday at Oak Pavilion.
Two teams of 18 players from across the Sierra foothills and San Joaquin Valley will go head-to-head in a game that raises money for the Claim Jumper men's hoops program and gives this year's graduating high school seniors a final opportunity to showcase their basketball skills on the court with their peers, said Columbia athletic director Nate Rien.
"This is a way for us to honor all these talented local kids," Rien said. "I think it's nice to give a little recognition for all their hard work and effort over the past four years."
Coaches from the represented high schools nominate the players they feel deserve to make the All-Star teams and then work with Rien to make both as balanced as possible.
For the first time ever, teams will be made up of players from schools both large and small.
In past years, a "small school" game would precede a "large school" game but scheduling conflicts with several area schools holding senior proms on the same day meant less players could participate and the games had to be combined.
Summerville head coach Ben Watson will coach the "Away" team featuring players from Oakdale, Davis, Turlock, Johansen, Ripon, Escalon, Golden Valley, Buhach Colony and his own Bears.
Watson guided the Bears to an undefeated record in the Mother Lode League and their second title in three years. Summerville then stormed through the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV Basketball Championships to win the Tuolume County school's first-ever Section championship for boys' hoops with a victory over Liberty Ranch at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.
"Nate has done a good job making this event a success and it's an honor for the guys who were selected to play," Watson said. "You're all out there playing a great game and doing it for the right reasons - just to have fun as a reward for having such a good year."
Summerville has more All-Star selections than any other high school, with the entire starting lineup of Rosendo Amaya-Wood, Connor Morningstar, Jesse Roberson, Logen Foster and Joey Brocchini all playing in the game under Watson.
"There's no doubt that there will be some special moments for those guys and for me on Saturday that will definitely bring back a few memories," Watson said.
Foster called it a "great honor" to make the team and said all of the Bears selected to play are excited at the chance of sharing the court with their Section championship-winning teammates one more time.
"We all thought our last time playing together was after we lost (to Orland) in the state playoffs," Foster said. "It's cool we get to play with each other again and it should be really fun."
On top of their accomplishments as a team, Foster also earned Most Outstanding Player honors from the MLL and Roberson was named the league's Most Valuable Player. Amaya-Wood made the All-League First Team.
Calaveras Redskin Wyatt Madrid is looking forward to being on the same team as the chosen Bears after a high school career spent playing against them.
"They're all really good players and have a very high basketball IQ," he said. "I'm also excited there's going to be a couple really tall guys on my team, and I wouldn't mind throwing them a couple lobs and watching them dunk it ... That would be nice."
Madrid's Redskins missed the postseason this year but the 5-foot-11 guard battled to keep his team in every game.
"It's nice that some of the other kids from the Mother Lode League made it, especially Wyatt from Calaveras because he's really athletic and it should be fun to play on the same team as him," Foster said of Madrid, who also made the MLL's All-League First Team this season.
On the other side, Central Catholic boss Mike Wilson will coach the "Home" team comprised of players from Sonora, Bret Harte, Riverbank, Beyer, Enochs, Downey, East Union, Central Catholic, Los Banos, Ripon Christian and Atwater.
Ben Bates and Nick Mays were selected to represent the Wildcats.
"I've been playing with him (Mays) for the past three years and this will be a good way to end it," Bates said.
Bret Harte Bullfrog Tyler Evans will play alongside Bates and said he can't wait to have Sonora's big man on his team for once.
"I'm glad that I'm on his team and not guarding him," Evans said.
Bullfrogs Conor Zumbach and Rodney Riner also will play in the game Saturday.
Evans described his teammate Zumbach as an "undersized big man who works hard and plays like he has a chip on his shoulder" and Riner "an all around good player with a lot of heart."
He is also looking forward to seeing how he sizes up against competition from bigger schools that he hasn't had the chance to play in the past, especially as he looks at the possibility of playing basketball at Menlo College in Atherton.
"We get to go play with the best players in the area," he said. "It's going to be a challenge, but also a fun and interesting game."