There was plenty of firepower on display at the girls annual Iowa-Illinois Senior All-Star basketball game on Monday night.
But the Illinois squad brought a little more firepower than the Iowa team during the clash at Augustana’s Carver Center. Led by co-MVPs Justice Edell from Rock Island and Sydney Himmelman of Geneseo, the Illinois team put six players in double figures to outlast the Iowa team, 88-77.
Edell scored 13 points, racked up eight assists and added nine rebounds while Himmelman put up a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds and she also notched three blocks. Alleman’s Mallory Hillman finished with 13 points while United Township’s Davi Buchanan chipped in 12 points. Buchanan also had four steals.
Mariah Anderson of Rock Island (11 points) and Moline’s Crystal Rios (10 points) were the others to reach double figures.
Edell and Himmelman both said it was nice to finally have a lot of that scoring on their side for once instead of defending it.
“It was amazing to play with all the girls I usually want to beat,” Edell said of her teammates for the night. “It was interesting, that way, to come together and play the Iowa side for fun. It was just a great opportunity and I was just really excited to play in this game.”
Himmelman said she had been teammates before with some of the other participants during AAU tournaments but added this was a unique experience in its own right.
“It was a lot of fun to play with all the other girls before we all go off on our separate ways,” Himmelman said. “I think our team meshed really well, we played with really good chemistry so I think that really helped us.”
While the temptation during an all-star game is to try and show off individual skills, both squads showed that they could play well together. Illinois put up 30 assists on 35 field goals and Iowa finished with 28 assists on 32 field goals.
The difference came down to an explosive third-quarter by the Illinois team and a better job in the rebounding department. Illinois led 37-28 at halftime but scored 33 points in the third quarter to push the lead to 70-51 by the end of the period. Buchanan helped key an early third-quarter run with seven points that pushed Illinois’ lead to 45-31 just three minutes into the third-quarter.
Iowa fought back to get within 59-51 after a basket by Davenport North’s Jinaya Houston with 2:10 left in the third quarter. Houston had 17 points, eight rebounds and four blocks for the Iowa squad.
After Iowa got within eight, the Illinois squad ripped off an 11-0 run to end the third quarter. Edell had six points during the run while Himmelman had a putback and Rios added a big three-pointer. The Iowa team would get no closer than the final margin in the fourth quarter.
The Illinois side outrebounded the Iowa team 56-40, including 32-24 on the defensive end which limited Iowa’s chances down the stretch. Himmelman thought defense, which can be an afterthought during an exhibition, was key in the second half.
“Defense was big so we talked about that a lot,” she said. “We knew (Iowa) was going to put up a lot of points and we knew we could too, so if we put that defense on, that would give us the edge.”
Houston’s former teammate at North also had a big game as Jacionna Stowers finished with 19 points, including five three-pointers. Stowers also had two blocks, three steals and four assists. Assumption’s Jasmine Harris was the only other Iowa player to reach double figures with 13 points. North’s Mariah Mayfield finished with nine points and North Scott’s Karli Rucker pitched in seven points.
Stowers, like her Illinois counterparts, enjoyed having her Iowa teammates do battle with her, especially Rucker from the state champion Lancers.
“Honestly, Karli is an amazing player and amazing person just talking to her and I always wanted to play with her,” Stowers said. “I think everybody had a lot of fun tonight even though we lost, it just feels great to get together and play with such talented players.”