Some of the best Rutherford County middle school basketball players gathered at La Vergne Middle for the second annual Rutherford County All-Star game on Feb. 14.
For the actual basketball players and coaches it felt like a true atmosphere like those seen at the various professional All-Star games.
Let’s start with the positive.
The players in the game had a really great time, especially during the various skills contests. Just like last weekend’s NBA All-Star event, the players got to take part in a 3-point shooting contest, a dunk contest, and an obstacle course.
In the 3-point sharpshooters contest, Central Magnet’s Nathan Nelson won the boys' division and Stewarts Creek's Taylor Vaughn took home the girls' contest. Vaughn then beat Nelson in the “Battle of the Sexes” shootout.
Another Stewarts Creek player, Desmond Sales, won the boys' obstacle course event, while Caitlyn Moore from Smyrna Middle won the girls.
The highlight of the night was the dunk contest, in which La Vergne Middle boys head coach Thurman Tucker asked me to be one of five judges during the dunk contest. It was a blast to do, and I was very generous by giving out a lot of 10s during the couple of rounds of competition.
You could tell these players paid attention to the professionals during the NBA's All-Star dunk contest.
The main difference between the pros and middle school is the goal was lowered to eight feet, and they took advantage of it.
The big thing in the various dunk contests in the use of props, some of these players decided to use little children, ball racks and their friends trying to get the highest score possible.
The winner of the contest was Maleik Gray from La Vergne Middle, who received a perfect score of 50 in the final round after he jumped over one of his friends while catching the ball on a bounce and slamming it home.
The crowd went crazy when he made it.
The players themselves relished the chance to play with the same players who they had battled all season. It was the middle school version of a dream team. The teams were broken into two squads based on what side of the bracket each team was in during the county tournament.
“It’s a great feeling, because you finally get to see what they're like to play with, and we get to come together and see how good we can make the team for one goal to win,” Oakland Middle star Devonte Harris said.
Rock Springs girls star Kesha Brady added, “It’s feels good to play around and have fun and play with different teammates.”
As for the actual games themselves, both the boys and girls had a mix of style and substance, but toward the end it got serious, and some parents unfortunely took it too seriously.
Here my position on All-Star games, it’s a great honor to be selected for the team.
But, in the end, the goal remains the same: to win. Coaches will make the necessary changes to the lineup in hopes of winning. It’s like that for all All-Star games played on any level. And not everyone will get equal playing time.
Unfortunately, some parents were not happy with this decision, and a couple of them took it out on the coaches during the game. One of them was escorted out of the building.
Parents need to set an example for their kids, not try to live through them.
This is the last thing the coaches need to deal with, especially during a game that was designed to honor the county's best players, give them a chance to play each other and to have fun. These coaches work too hard trying to make their teams competitive in the area and state, while also teaching in the classroom at the same time.
It ruined a special night for the players and coaches, who were celebrating a successful season.
I hope by this time next year, the atmosphere is enjoyable for all in attendance, and not ruined by a select few who did not get their way.