GRAND RAPIDS — Putting together a collection of the best area high school basketball players made everyone want to win that much more.
On Thursday, the 6th Annual Champions of Character All-star Basketball Classic took place at Mol Arena at Cornerstone University. The two-day event featured the best current college or professional and high school players for both boys and girls.
Greenville’s Mackenzy Nichols competed in the girls game, while Torrey Davis, Chris Mickey and Austin Somerfield all competed in the boys game. All four played for the Pepsi All-stars.
The girls game was first and was won by the WBBL All-stars 75-47.
“It was fun. I haven’t played in a while, so it was fun to get out there,” Nichols said. “We didn’t practice before and just got together before the game.”
Nichols did not score and had to make an adjustment from playing zone defense all season long to man-to-man defense on Thursday.
“I played alright,” Nichols said. “All year long we played zone, so I had to play a little man and that was a change. I had fun, it was a good time.”
Nichols will study education at Ferris State University in the fall.
Trailing most of the boys game, the Pepsi All-stars (coached by Greenville’s Mark Haist) made a late second half comeback to win 90-87.
“It ended up with some basketball at the end,” Haist said. “Every kid got to play, but in the end we all want to win.”
Down 80-75, the Pepsi All-stars went on an 8-0 run to take a 83-80 lead in the final minutes. They would not relinquish the lead again.
Players were diving for loose balls, blocking shots, fouling hard and playing tight defense. It was a big change from the first half for the Pepsi All-stars (trailed 51-43 at halftime).
“We figured we couldn’t lounge around on defense like we did in the first half,” Somerfield said. “We had to start locking up on defense in the second half and it worked.”
Northview’s Darren Kapustka scored nine of his 17 points in the second half to earn team MVP honors. He also had four rebounds and four assists.
The starting five consisted of an all O-K White lineup with Davis, Mickey and Somerfield along with both Northview players Kapustka and Kevin Rich.
Northview handed the Yellow Jackets their lone regular season loss this past season and knocked them out of the playoffs in the first round.
“We thought is was symbolic. We’ve had such a great rivalry the past few years,” Haist said. “It’s been intense. Sometimes we don’t like them on the court, but that shows the rivalry. It’s a Champions of Character game and off the court we are friends.”
Davis scored 12 points and grabbed three rebounds. He will play in college in the fall at Lake Forest College, north of Chicago.
“It was real fun to have all of us there. It was fun seeing some of the other guys too,” Davis said. “This was a nice fun way for everyone to get together.”
Somerfield, who was on the court in the final minutes, finished with six rebounds and one point. He will play at Grand Valley State University this year.
“It was a good game. We went down early because we couldn’t hit a shot and they were lights out,” Somerfield said. “The second half, we all willed to win and pulled it out.”
Mickey had five rebounds and two assists. He did not score, but only took one shot.
“I think it was a really good experience,” Mickey said. “I didn’t play that well, but we got the win. I had fun and that is what it’s all about.”
Kevin Badger of Godwin Heights scored a game-high 17 points and was named WBBL team MVP.
“All the kids tonight had great attitudes and were very coachable,” Haist said. “I think they knew we were here for an all-star game.”