By VINCE PELUSO & BOB ETTINGER
SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP —
Brett Powers of Jefferson celebrated the final game of his high school basketball career with his dad, John, on the court at Lakeside for the Star Beacon-Ed Batanian Senior Classic on Monday with him. The elder Powers served as an official while Brett was a player for Team Apollo.
“It means a lot to me (to have him on the court with me),” Brett Powers said. “He’s always been there growing up. It means a lot he could be out there for my last game.”
“It meant an awful lot,” John Powers, a 1982 Jefferson graduate and former Falcon basketball player, said. “I coached Brett and we’ve gone to games. We did sit down, the both of us, and we figured out the only game I had reffed was when they were little kids. This is probably the only game of his I’ve ever done (as a high school player).
“It was pretty special, knowing that he’s not going to be on a basketball court again.”
The Powers exchanged a brief moment during pregame introductions.
“When he came by, he slapped my hand,” John Powers said. “Joe (Hewitt, one of the other officials) said, ‘Come on, give your dad a hug.’ And he did. He’s very respectful in that way.”
The two had another moment after the game began. Brett Powers was called for a technical for — as announced Dave Simpson said — not cleaning his room, doing the dishes or the laundry, among other transgressions.
“That came from Joe,” John Powers said. “It was all his idea. He said, ‘What are we going to do with No. 12 in red? Will he get mad if we do anything?’ I said no, he’d love it.”
As for the reasons for the technical?
“That was 100-percent truth,” John Powers said.
“I have no comment on that,” Brett Powers responded.
Perhaps it was appropriate that Geneva’s two most important players — seniors Becky Depp and Natalie Thomas —were pitted against each other in Monday’s Star Beacon-Ed Batanian Senior Classic.
They have been wreaking havoc on opposing teams for years, so it seems only fair that each got a taste of the other’s medicine.
Depp’s Team Medusa bested Thomas’ Team Athena, 69-61, and both players received Play-All Sports Player of the Game honors for their efforts.
Depp dropped a game-high 19 points to go with two assists and three steals in the win while Thomas contributed 14 in the loss to go with a game-high nine boards and four blocks.
While the competition on the court was intense at times, Depp said the two couldn’t help but smile when facing each other.
“We are always laughing and everything,” Depp said, while laughing. “When we play against each other, we’re just smiling the whole time, but it was good competition with each other. It’s just like practice.”
“It’s like a friendly rivalry,” Thomas added.
Thomas drew the short straw on Monday as the lone Geneva player on Team Athena as teammatae Emily O’Dell was sidelined with the flu.
Depp played with twin sister Sarah Depp as well as teammate Lyndsey Armstrong.
Although she was on her own, Thomas embraced the opportunity to play with new players.
“It was neat because it’s like their our competition during the regular season but now they’re our teammates,” she said. “It was such a fun thing.”
Depp gets the final laugh on Thomas with the win.
“Oh yeah, I always brag,” Depp said, sarcastically. “It was honestly just a fun time.”
Emonte Parks went out with a bang in his final game at Lakeside Gymnasium.
The senior dropped a game-high 25 points and earned Play-All Sports Player of the Game honors for Team Apollo in a 118-117 win.
“It felt really good,” he said. “It’s really kind of heart breaking but it’s been a great year honestly.”
Riverside’s Adam Hockman had a strong effort in the one-point loss for Team Zeus, scoring 19 points and receiving Play-All Sports Player of the Game in the loss.
The humble Hockman didn’t know if he was worthy of the award, but enjoyed the experience.
“I don’t think I’m an All-Star but it was definitely a fun experience,” he said. “I just kind of got into the flow of the game and kept shooting.”
Hockman contributed to the shooting barrage for Team Zeus, which drained 19 from distance, tying Michael Mirando of Conneaut with three triples. He also added in three assists.
“There were a lot of guys I enjoyed playing with, tonight, a lot of great shooters,” he said.
Parks, who also nailed three 3s, did a little bit of everything in the win, collecting a game-high 12 boards and dishing out nine assists.
He credited his coaches and teammates for his success.
“After really playing this last year, I’m just happy,” he said. “Honestly I really can’t give enough credit to my coaches and my teammates. They made the player I am and I’m glad I got to represent Lakeside.”
Parks said one thing he enjoyed was playing against Lakeside teammates Jerel Lower and Odero Ajamu.
“Definitely it was cool, playing against this guy,” he said, pointing to Ajamu. “My teammates, it’s been great playing with them. Honestly, I can’t explain it.”
One moment Parks didn’t enjoy was when he ended up under Ajamu on an alley-oop the leaping center received from Hockman.
Parks came off the court laugh and saying, “he cheated.”
“He did, I couldn’t get up,” Parks said with a laugh. “His legs were in my face.”
Ajamu’s leaping ability also caught the eye of Hockman.
“That guy can jump out of the building,” he said. “We were gonna throw a lot to him at the end and see if he could put one down. He can jump.”
No surprise here
While there are plenty of great shooters in the area, it should come as little surprise that it was one of John Bowler’s Edgewood Warriors who took home the 3-point shooting contest at Monday’s senior classic.
“Yeah, that’s all we do is shoot 3s,” Edgewood Dylan McCaleb said, chuckling.
McCaleb edged Pymatuning Valley’s Austin Nowakowski 7-6 in the final round after he connected with six in the opening round opposed to Nowakowski’s 5.
“We always work on 3s in practice,” he said. “Coach tells us not to be afraid to shoot and he told us he’ll never take us out for shooting.”
But, in Monday’s case, it might not have been Bowler who helped McCaleb so much as it was Edgewood JV coach Paul Stofan.
Stofan noticed McCaleb moving around the arc during the first round and suggested he’d be better served staying at the top of the key.
“He told me the top of the key is the easiest shot,” he said. “I told him I like every shot. But I actually took his advice and it worked out.”
McCaleb hit 42 3-pointers this season.
Dial long distance
Known throughout her career at Jefferson as an outside shooter, Busch proved her pluck from the outside in claiming the girls’ 3-point contest title.
“I didn’t know who to expect to win,” Busch said. “But I knew it would be a competition.”
Busch outshot Abbie Trivisonno of Madison, 7-4, to win. In the opening round, Busch beat Becky Depp of Geneva, 6-5.
“I don’t know where that came from,” Busch said. “I shot with (teammate) LeeAnn (Farr) a little in gym class today. Other than that, I haven’t picked up a basketball since the season.”
Trivisonno topped Megan Carabotta of Riverside, 5-3, in the first round.
Busch also shot well from beyond the arc in the game. She connected on four triples, banking home two from the top of the key.
“The top of the key is not my spot,” Busch said. “If you noticed, during the contest, I shot from off to the side.”
Jefferson’s legendary Rod Holmes was paired with St. John coach Nick Iarocci to coach the girls game.
Ironically, it was Iarocci who coined Holmes as “The Legend.”
Out of the ordinary
Most coaches would have cringed watching the girls game at the classic had it not been a game meant to be played for fun. A number of 3-pointers were made by girls who generally aren’t supposed to shoot from outside the paint.
Farr, Katie Klingman of Riverside and Natalie Thomas of Geneva all made shots from behind the arc.
Thomas was the first to strike. After throwing one up earlier in the game, hitting nothing but air and letting out an exasperated, “Shoot,” she connected a trey from the wing.
On her return trip down the floor, she looked right at Geneva teammates Becky and Sarah Depp, on the opposing bench, and smiled wide.
“That was meant for us,” Becky Depp said.
When Klingman was reminded of her only 3-point attempt of the season right after Thomas’ second attempt, Riverside teammate Alexis Parsons promised to set Klingman up for a chance from the outside.
Parsons made good on the promise and got the assist when Klingman hit nothing but net.
Parsons then dished to Farr in the corner for a 3-pointer, as well.
Whatever it takes
Although it may have just been an all-star game, Team Medusa coaches Rod Holmes (Jefferson) and Nick Iarocci (St. John) weren’t going to lay back and play halfcourt defense.
“They told us to go full-court man the whole time and half of us were and half us weren’t,” Becky Depp said. “But in the regular season, that’s what we do most of the time, so it was just natural to us.”
Needless to say, the move caught Thomas off guard.
“Yeah, we were pretty surprised,” she said.
Depp said it was a little difficult at times getting used to playing with a group of players she’d never played with before.
“We just tried to have fun and try to play our best with teammates because you don’t know any of them,” she said. “You have no plays so you just kind of wing it.”
While it is fun initially, Thomas admitted when the game was close towards the end, she wanted the win.
“Just like toward the end when we were losing, we just said whatever we need to do to get the ball back,” she said. “That’s why at the end it got a little pushy.”
Goodbye for now
Monday’s game provided McCaleb the opportunity to play a final time for Bowler and with fellow seniors Louie Wisnyai (four points) and 2013 Star Beacon Ashtabula County Player of the Year Andrew Konczal (team-high 22 points).
“I love these guys,” he said. “It’s been a really fun year playing with all these guys, I wish it wasn’t over. But it was great while it lasted.
“I love everyone on the team, the staff is great. They’re friends to us.”
Parks had similar feelings about his teammates.
“It’s been a great year even though we had some struggles I couldn’t be happier with my teammates and my coaches,” he said. “I’m honestly going to miss it.”
Conneaut’s Angie Zappitelli and Riverside’s Kortlynn Carr were both unable to play in the game because of injuries suffered at the end of the season, but both were on hand and sat on their respective benches to root on their teammates.
Belting it out
The Star-Spangled Banner received quite the response. Nathan Jernigan, the son of Luke and Katie Jernigan, was the reason.
Jernigan, just 4 years old, stirring renditions of the national anthem before each contest.
His payment for a job well done was two York Peppermint Patties, one of which he planned to bring home to little sis Elizabeth.