The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

March 12, 2014

McLaughlin, Downs do it all

JEFFERSON — The honors continue to come in for Edgewood’s Connor McLaughlin.

After being named Star Beacon Ashtabula County Player of the Year on Monday, McLaughlin scored 14 points at the Star Beacon-Ed Batanian Senior Classic to lead all scorers and was named PlayAll Awards and Engraving Player of the Game for the winning Lions team, which defeated the Tigers, 83-71.

McLaughlin admitted he was nervous in the first half when he had some struggles before getting hot in the fourth quarter.

“I was kind of nervous playing in front of everybody and I wanted to get everyone involved, it was fun playing with everyone,” he said. “I think I got more confident in the second half and got into a flow.

“I’m not used to coming out of the game much either so that was different. I gotta credit those guys, they gave me a lot of shots.”

McLaughlin said it was a special night to play against some players he’s known for years and for playing for Edgewood coach John Bowler again.

“I played against guys like Tristan (Bradley of Lakeside) when I was little, so it was fun to play with him,” he said. “I’ll always remember this one. Playing for (Bowler) was the best three years of my life and I’ll take that with me for the rest of my life.”

The path to the MVP of the Tigers was a slightly more unexpected one.

Lakeside’s Kyle Downs carried those honors with a 14-point effort. It wasn’t long ago that Downs wasn’t even sure he would be able to play in the game because of knee surgery.

“No not at all,” he said if he ever imagined winning an MVP award at an All-Star game. “When I found out I was going to have knee surgery I thought it was going to be six months to a year with rehab. It came out to only be a month so I was able to come back in the second half of the season.

“I never would’ve imagined this (motioning to his MVP trophy) after knee surgery.”

Downs said it’s also nice to see some new faces from around Ashtabula County that the Dragons didn’t get to play during the season.

“It was a lot of fun being able to play against everyone in the county because being from Lakeside we didn’t get to play against a lot of those guys,” he said. “Then, me and (Lorenz Sistrunk) who joined him on the Tigers) have been playing together for a while, we started back in the YMCA, so it was good to play with him one last time and have fun with him.”

Downs and Sistrunk said it was fun going up against their Lakeside teammates Tristan Bradley and Marcell Ballenger, as well.

“We’re like friendly competitors,” he said. “It was fun to mess around with each other and have fun. Overall it was a great game, not having Coach (Jim Hood) all over our backs about taking bad shots.

“It was good to go out there tonight and have some fun with everyone.”

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