Thirty-nine athletes representing 18 area high schools will take to the hardwood one last time this evening at White Auditorium in the 30th annual Flint Hills Optimist Club’s All-Star Classic.
The event, which will have its forty-sixth installment, is the capstone on the high school basketball season.
“I t seems like each year it gets even better,” Flint Hills Optimist All-Star Classic Chairman Bryan Douglas said. “We change things to make things exciting for the kids. That’s what it’s about.
“We’ve got some really good talent (and) we’re really excited. Some of the kids, this will be their last time that they’ll probably play in an organized game of this fashion. (Also), it’ll be the parents’ last time to watch their kids play. We’ve talked to a lot of people who played five,10 years ago and they still remember playing in the all-star game. We want it to be something the kids will remember for a long time.”
Participants were honors at a banquet on Monday night, where former Emporia State men’s basketball coach and current Chase County girls’ basketball coach Ron Slaymaker was the keynote speaker.
Players were nominated by their coaches and the Optimist Club’s selection committee narrowed it down to 20 participants for each division.
All four coaches from last year will return. Michelle (Stueve) Corpening and Kayla Krueger, one time Olpe Eagles and Lady Hornets, will coach the girls’ teams. Former Madison Bulldog Eric Porter and one-time Spartan and Hornet Garin Vandiver will guide the boys’ team.
Emporia High has four participants — three boys and one girl. Jace and Spencer Stewart will team up on the boys’ blue team while Kyler McCullough is on the boys’ red team. Taylor Milleson will be on the girls’ red team.
“It’s great to be (teamed) with Jace one more time,” Spencer Stewart said. “It’ll be a fun experience to play against Kyler.”
McCullough was left isolated from his fellow Spartans, but still looked forward to the experience.
“I wish one of them was on my team, but it is what is,” he said.
The Eagles have three seniors in the game — Emma Miller, Karly McDougald and Carrie Sleezer. Sleezer and Miller will team up on Corpening’s team, while McDougald is on Krueger’s team.
Council Grove is represented by Brett Birzer and Lauren Reddick. Chase County has Hunter Groh, Maya Eidman and Katelyn Schroer playing in the contests. Madison’s Emily Farrow and Austin Watts represent the Bulldogs. Dalen Kistner is Hartford’s sole representative. Burlington and Emporia State commit Kirsten Young will play in White Auditorium before she becomes a Lady Hornet.
Eidman said it’ll be different seeing one of her teammates on the opposing side.
“It’s going to be interesting,” she said. “Sometimes, we practice against each other ... or play against each other. I think playing against (Katelyn) is going to be interesting.”
Southern Coffey County, West Franklin, Eureka, Waverly, Burlingame and Lyndon also have representatives.
The women’s game is set for 6 p.m. with the men’s game to follow. A 3-point shooting contest with all the participants will take place at 5:15 p.m., with the finalists from both divisions shooting the finals during halftime of their respective games.