Silver Stage cager Chris Velasco worked the media and crowd like a showman Tuesday night after his boys' West squad defeated the East in the fourth annual Fallon Optimist High School All-Star Basketball Classic at the CCHS Gym.
The annual games spotlight graduating seniors who were either first or second team all-league picks or honorable mention.
Clearly the shortest player at 5-foot-6, Velasco from Silver Stage High School led all scorers with 16 points as the West rallied in the second half for an 82-61 win.
Velasco, who had his own rooting section from Silver Springs in the crowd, lit up the gym with his quickness on defense and with the game's final basket, an arching shot from the right corner that swished the nets for a 3-pointer.
Competing with players from the other conferences, especially the larger Northern 3 and 4A divisions, didn't bother Velasco.
In fact, he thrived on it.
"It gave me a challenge, a work out," he said as teenage well wishers
hugged him after the game.
He enjoyed playing on what he called a dream team, but he also said he would "want the old guys (his Skyhawks' teammates) with him."
Both teams battled back and forth in the first half until the West began to pull away late in the second quarter.
After Devin Barefield (Rite of Passage) powered in for a layup to give the East the game's first lead, Blake Cooper (Fallon) rushed back down the court and successfully launched a trey.
The horse race was on and West coach Rick Stevens of Manogue knew it.
"Everyone likes to have kids like this on their own team," Stevens said, referring to the caliber of play.
Using its inside play of North Valley's big man Scott Rosa and the inside power play of Incline's Matt Baker, the West raced out to a 10-6 lead before Garland Lee (White Pine) sunk a 3-pointer to pull the East to within a point.
The East then grabbed its only lead in the first quarter on Fernley's Mike Lambeth's free throw before the West outscored the East 7-4.
Leading 17-15 into the second quarter, the East relied on the outside shooting of Estevan Garaz (Lovelock) and Barefield's presence in the middle.
The Dayton tandem of Adam Diament and Matt Bowman also figured into the scoring and helped the East lead by as many as four points, 27-23.
The West roared back and took the lead on a pair of Ben Koval (Incline) free throws. The team kept adding to its lead on the strength of second half ending shots by Baker and Lindsey Rivers (Pyramid Lake).
Rosa and Baker combined for 15 points in the first half, but Rosa emerged as a one player rebounder for the West.
Stevens said Rosa and Baker both played tough inside and were able to control Barefield.
"Barefield was a handful," Stevens remarked.
The East trailed by as many as 16 points in the third quarter, 6:10 after Rosa sunk one of two free throws.
The East began a big rally and erased a big deficit to trail 48-45 with 2:05 left in the third quarter.
Jermanine Parker (ROP) put on a dazzling one player show as he scored 10 points in the final minutes of the quarter. At one time the East outscored the West 14-1 with the only point coming from a Cooper free throw.
Rivers' two free throws gave the West a five-point lead going into the final quarter.
The West's Baker and Rosa hit the boards and jammed the middle while Velasco split the defense with his speedy footwork and Baker followed up several shots with tipins.
With the final minutes ticking away, Velasco followed Barefield's layup with a pair of free throws and an overhand sky hook that found the basket like a smart bomb.
Tyler Gray, whose father Paul coaches Reed, said these all-star games are all about fun.
He wasn't surprised with the high level of competition from the players representing teams from the small conferences.
"We played against Incline and Dayton. I know these guys. They can play, and they are competitors," said Gray.
Gray praised Rosa and Baker for their good game and how they were able to stop the East's inside game.