Caleb Grill of Maize High shined the brightest when it counted the most Saturday night in the 36th annual Kansas Basketball Coaches Association All-Star Game.
Grill, a 6-foot-3 guard who will play at Iowa State next year, scored nine of his 17 points in the final 3:31, leading the White all-stars to a wild 111-107 victory over the Blue squad at Mabee Arena.
Grill was one of 11 players to score in double figures as the White stars overcame a double-digit deficit in the final 10 minutes. The two teams combined to launch 199 field goal attempts, with 73 of them behind the 3-point arc.
"You want to win every game," said Grill. "There's going to be some laid backs, but the last couple minutes we turned it up a little and really came back and executed our stuff."
The Blue team still led by seven points (104-97) with 2:14 left after a basket by Chapman's Izek Jackson, but back-to-back buckets by Maize South's Kael Kordonowy and a layup by Grill made it a one-point game (104-103) with 1:24 remaining.
Blue Valley Northwest's Christian Braun, who received his Mr. Kansas Basketball award earlier in the day, made one free throw a short time later, but Lawrence High's Clarence King buried a 3-pointer at the 1:11 mark and a free throw by Kordonowy with 49 seconds left made it a two-point lead for the White team.
Braun tied the game with a rousing one-handed driving slam dunk at the 0:40 mark, but a long 3-pointer by Grill 10 seconds later was followed by a game-clinching free throw in the final seven seconds by John Pfannenstiel of Ness City.
Grill converted a four-point play and that long 3-pointer to fuel his team's comeback.
"I thought that was the play that gave us confidence that we could come back and win," Grill said of the four-point play. "It was just a lot of fun to get together with a lot of good players and play in an all-star game like this."
King's 19 points led the winning White team. Grill's 17 points was followed by Cevin Clark (Arkansas City) and John Long (Santa Fe Trail) with 12 each. Kordonowy added 11 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
The longest and loudest cheers during the game were for Trinity Catholic's Kaleb Hammeke, a Fort Hays State signee. It started with the pregame introductions and continued throughout the game.
Hammeke didn't disappoint his fans from Hutchinson. The 6-foot guard finished with a team-high 17 points for the Blue team while adding five rebounds and four steals.
"I had a lot of supporters here," he said. "It was awesome. Every time I did something, they blew it out of proportion and they make it a lot of fun, but I'm glad I have people who care about me and that helps me do what I do."
Joining Hammeke in double figures for the Blue team were Braun and Tymer Jackson (Olathe North) with 16 points; Michael Peake (Blue Valley Northwest) and Braden Belt (Topeka Seaman) with 13 each and Izek Jackson with 10 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots.
It has been an eventful last few days for Braun, who spent the first part of the week working the Bill Self basketball camp in Lawrence and scrimmaging with and against his future University of Kansas teammates. He then headed to Salina for the all-star game and received the honor of being named Mr. Kansas Basketball. The 6-7 guard finished with16 points and six rebounds in 21 minutes.
"The past couple weeks have been awesome," Braun said. "Just moving up to KU; getting to meet all the guys.
"I got to see a lot of the alums and they really reach out and help you. In that short span, I learned so much and then coming back here and getting to see all these others guys, some of them I didn't know, who are really talented. It's good to see them succeed and a lot of them played really well."
Braun, who helped lead Blue Valley Northwest to back-to-back Class 6A state championships, matched up with Grill in the second half. Expect that over the next four years as Braun heads to KU and Grill to Iowa State.
Grill had one of the spectacular highlights of the game with a 360-degree spinning one-handed breakaway dunk, but it was his four-point play with 3:31 remaining in the game that started his team's comeback.
The first half was marred by a leg injury to Andover Central guard Easton Leedom at the 12:26 mark. Leedom, who helped the Jaguars to the Class 5A state title in March, averaged 16.6 points a game as a senior and has signed with Coffeyville Community College. He was helped off the court after playing just 2 1/2 minutes and didn't return.
Peake may have been the lesser known of the two high school stars from Blue Valley Northwest — Braun the other — but the folks on hand know his name now.
The 6-foot-8 center scored 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds, but played just 8 1/2 minutes. He left the game with 5:26 left in the first half, landing hard after a follow-up slam dunk.
Two players who will call the Mabee Arena home next year as Kansas Wesleyan Coyotes — Braden Belt of Andover Central and Trey Duffey of Topeka Seaman —combined for 19 points. Belt finished with 13 points and nine rebounds in 22 minutes and Duffey scored six points and added three rebounds in 16 minutes.