All-Star Game Recaps
Posted 7/14/16 (Thu)
Three days, six games and enough talent to make you wonder if you were watching graduating high school seniors or a seasoned college team.
It’s every football player’s dream to play on Sunday and that idea became a reality for the best of the best from the east and the west in the Shrine Game. In the 9-man game we saw two teams with two very different game plans.
The western all-stars showed a commitment to the ground and pound, made possible by a serious size advantage and the powerful backfield combo of 9-man senior athlete of the year Jalen Pfeifer from North Prairie and Denver Colgrove out of RTH.
What the eastern team lacked in size they made up for with phenomenal quickness. It was their speed, and more specifically Travor Flaa’s speed that put them on the scoreboard first. Flaa scampered around in the backfield and eventually dove in the endzone from six yards out. Quarterback Brady Heyen found Adolfo Vazquez in the back of the endzone to top off the scoring drive with a two-point conversion.
8-0 would stick on the board for the rest of the first half thanks to some outstanding work from both defensive units. Physicality and turnovers were at a premium. Kendrick Lenzen, Lane Schmitt, Abe Axtmann and Erik Holzer were a few guys who made some big plays and had great games on the defensive side.
In half number two the western offense finally started to wear down the boys from the east. Pfeifer capped off the opening drive for the West with a four yard run to make it 8-6.
The east answered right back with a 24-yard toss from Dylan Olsonawski to Cody Walton for six. Olsonawski and Rylee Cleem (RB-Cavalier) split time in the backfield for the east with Brady Heyen and Malek Larimer (RB-Thompson). The duos provided different looks and both had success working against the stout western defense.
Trailing 14-6 the west put together a quick 55-yard drive that took just six snaps and was finished off by Kyler Melby from one yard out. Melby replaced Pfeifer for just one play when Pfeifer lost his helmet and was forced to exit. Talk about taking advantage of your opportunity! A failed two-point conversion let the east keep the lead 14-12, but the west had one more drive in them. Pfeifer led the offense 91-yards and found Max Yutrzenka from 14 yards out for the go ahead TD that turned out to be the game winner.
Three thoughts from the game:
- Jalen Pfeifer took all but one snap (the Melby TD) in a bruising game and seemed to get faster and more effective with every snap he took.
- I have never seen such a hard fought and physical all-star game in my life.
- Congratualtions to both coaches. Coach Motl for the victory and coach Imdieke for a storied and spectacular coaching career. You have been a positive influence for an uncountable amount of young athletes.
After the Shrine Game we shifted our mindset to the hardwood for the Lions All Star Games. The Class A and Class B girls teams got things going in the Fargo Civic Auditorium for game one.
Both coaches, Ron Metz from Century and Daryl Bearstail from Shiloh, emphasized how well their teams had meshed over the course of the week and said to expect to see plenty of tempo. They were correct. Both teams came out flying at a pace that at first seemed too fast. Turnovers and errant passes were prevalent for the first couple of minutes, but once the jitters were shaken out the action smoothed out and the game was an absolute treat to watch. Class B held a 32-27 lead at halftime and was led by Rylee Nudell who went off for a total of 25 points in game one. In half number two the Class A girls found their rhythm in the paint, chipped away at the deficit and eventually built a ten point lead. Cassie Askvig and Lauren Rotunda led the charge down low finishing with 14 and 11 respectively, and defensively forced Class B into a couple more outside shots than they would have liked to take. Shea Heidlebaugh made a couple big shots late for Class B, but it wasn’t enough to steal the lead. Class A took a thrilling game one 79-74.
In the rematch Tuesday night in Bismarck points were more difficult to come by, but the game was just as close. A 12 point run for Class A put them in a good spot up 25-12 in the first, but as is the case in almost all all-star games, no lead is safe. Class B was able to pull within seven at the half, and coming into half number two the B girls found their step. They clawed back to take a 36-35 lead which was followed by the back in forth action we saw in Monday’s game. Madison Kaehler bounced a jumper off the backboard with under a minute to go to pull Class B within two, 58-56. Off the inbound pass Krista Ulmer ran Maddie Erickson out of bounds forcing a turnover and giving her team one last chance to tie. Rylee Nudell received the inbound pass and even though everyone in the house expected the state’s all-time scoring leader to put one up, she decided to swing one along the base line to the hot hand of Kaehler who banked in the game tying shot to force OT.
In overtime Miss Basketball, Sarah Jacobson, scored seven for a game total of ten and made it a series sweep for the Class A girls.
It was an outstanding three days of action and it was all for some outstanding causes. The Lions and the Shriners do incredible work in the local and national communities and it is great to see them benefiting from these thrilling all-star games.