The inaugural West Coast All-Star Classic produced a little something for everyone. The West basketball team, led by UCLA-bound Zach LaVine...
KENT — The inaugural West Coast All-Star Classic produced a little something for everyone.
The West basketball team, led by UCLA-bound Zach LaVine and California-bound Jordan Matthews, captured a thrilling 123-121 victory Saturday night.
The East squad produced an unlikely MVP in BYU-bound forward Eric Mika, who scored a game-high 28 points and dominated both ends of the floor.
The small crowd at the ShoWare Center was treated to high-flying dunks, aerial acrobatics and a surprisingly suspenseful few minutes at the end.
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University of Washington fans in attendance must have felt delighted watching incoming freshman Jahmel Taylor, a 5-foot-11 point guard from Los Angeles, orchestrate a comeback that fell just short.
In fact, it was a good night for the Pac-12, which had six players star in the game.
And co-organizer Mike Bethea walked away encouraged about the future of the event.
“First time out of the gates, of course you want a few more people to come out, but I’ll take it,” said the Rainier Beach High School coach. “I think it was a good event, a decent turnout and I’m happy. I thought the talent level was high, and the kids put on a pretty good show.
“The feedback I’ve gotten — of course it’s real early — has been nothing but positive from everybody. The fans, sponsors and people working the game have said great things. And the players, they’re the ones who will grow this event. They’re telling me they had a good time.”
Admittedly Bethea didn’t know what to expect when he began organizing the game almost three months ago.
“If we can do this in 2 ½ months,” he said, “just think what we can do in a year.”
Bethea assembled a talented roster of 22 players that included LaVine, the state’s top player.
The Bothell High star, who won the slam-dunk contest Friday, started slowly Saturday before finishing with 19 points and sharing team-high scoring honors with Matthews.
“In the beginning I wanted to come out and get the team involved,” LaVine said. “I didn’t shoot that much, but towards the end of the game I wanted to win, so I tried to get my shot going.”
The West controlled the game from the start thanks to balanced scoring. Gabe Bealer (Santa Clara) had 15 points, Ja’Keem Yates (undecided) scored 14 and Torren Jones (Missouri) 13. Rainier Beach star Marquis Davis, who will play at Santa Clara next season, chipped in 12 and Elliott Pitts (Arizona) had 11.
The West led 98-84 at the start of the fourth quarter before the East rallied.
Mika, who finished with five dunks and five blocks, was the workhorse for the East.
“If we would have played the whole game like we did in the fourth quarter, we would have dominated,” Mika said.
Kameron Williams (Ohio State) scored 21 points and Taylor added 18 for the East.
Gavin Schilling (Michigan State) and D.J. Fenner, the Seattle Prep standout who is headed to Nevada, each scored 11. Washington incoming freshman Darin Johnson had nine.
“That was a whole lot of fun,” Taylor said. “I hope the fans had as much fun as I did.”