The prep basketball season concluded two weeks ago, but three city players will have one more opportunity to take the court this year.
Free State’s Chantay Caron and Ashli Hill and Lawrence High’s Haley Parker have earned invitations to compete in the 14th annual Greater Kansas City Basketball Coaches Association All-Star Challenge, which will be held at 2 p.m. April 10 at the Independence (Mo.) Events Center.
The game, which includes players from the Kansas City metro area, will pit the top players from Kansas against the top players from Missouri. The teams will practice twice leading up to the game, in addition to attending an all-star banquet on April 8.
“Both Ashli and Chantay are pretty low-key, humble people, but I could see the excitement in their eyes when I told them,” Free State coach Bryan Duncan said. “They were very proud to be a part of that, and I know they’re really looking forward to it, as well they should be.”
Each will play in college next season — Caron at Kansas State, Hill at UMKC and Parker at Emporia State — and each had a profound impact on her team’s success this season.
Caron (14.3 points, 6.4 rebounds per game) and Hill (9.7 points, 10.2 rebounds) led the Firebirds to a 15-8 record and a berth in the Class 6A state tournament this winter.
Parker averaged 12 points, three assists and three rebounds for the 8-13 Lions, who will be represented in the game for the second straight season after former standouts Dorian Green and Taylor Bird earned invites to last year’s game.
“She definitely understands that it’s quite an honor, to be one of the best players in the area,” LHS coach Nick Wood said of Parker. “Especially during a year when there’s a lot of good players (in the area).”
Despite the easy-going nature of the week leading up to the game, Duncan, who served as a coach for the Kansas team following the 2006-07 season, insists that, come tipoff, things get plenty serious.
“I think initially (that) everyone enjoys it, and it’s fun,” he said. “But you have so many talented players in the game that everything picks up, and by the second half of that game, everybody wants to win, especially with the Missouri-Kansas thing going.
“It’s certainly not a lolly-gagging performance,” he added. “They’ll be getting after it.”