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All-star games share same qualities

This is the opening tip of the Nebraska All-Star boys' basketball game Monday night in Lincoln, Neb. The games have many similarities to South Dakota's all-star contests. Photo by Dave Vilhauer

LINCOLN, Neb. – This year’s National High School Athletic Coaches Association National Convention is taking place at North Star High School in Lincoln. As part of the event, the facility is hosting the Nebraska High School All-Star basketball games and volleyball match.

I am at the convention as a vendor selling my book and stopped by to watch a little of the action Monday evening. It’s safe to say it brought back a lot of memories of covering South Dakota’s all-star games back when Aberdeen hosted them for decades.

It would also be a major understatement to say there were many similarities between those events in bordering states. For starters, one squad wore red and the other blue, just like the teams did when they competed at Wachs Arena. Second, while there were many fans in attendance, there was little cheering just like I recall, because nobody really knows who to cheer for in those contests.

Then there was the lack of designed plays, because usually there isn’t enough time to pull a group of players together from all parts of a state and get in them on the same page. Needless to say, three-point shot attempts dominated the course of action.

And, just like I did at South Dakota’s games, I found myself applauding a good play out loud Monday night, even though I had no clue who any of the players were on the court.

Much to my surprise, though, was the fact that two of the players I was watching will be heading to Dakota Wesleyan University to play basketball for the Tigers, one girl and one boy. I then took a closer glance at the rosters and discovered that five others players were headed to Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference schools. A quartet of players will be playing at Wayne State and another at the University of Sioux Falls.

Of course, whenever I walk into a new gym (no matter how big or small the school), I always try to find the accomplishments of past athletes. I pay particularly close attention to the track and field records, because stop watches and tape measures don’t exaggerate.

On this occasion, I also looked at North Star’s past athletes to see if I would recognize anybody. It wasn’t until I stumbled across a list of former Navigators that competed at various colleges that I hit a familiar name. There it was, former North Star standout Cari McGarvie, who played volleyball at Northern State.

McGarvie was an All-NSIC performer for the Wolves, who once finished second on the team in kills. I remember covering her during her playing days at Wachs Arena.

It just goes to show that sports has a way of somehow connecting all of us.

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