BROWNWOOD – In a game full of big talent, it was two little guys who stole the show.
San Angelo Central’s Raven Ortiz scored a team-high 21 points, and Cooper’s Andrew Gonzalez added 17 in leading the South past the North 89-73 in the Big Country Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ annual All-Star Men’s Basketball Game on Saturday at Brownwood High School.
“Those are two really good guards,” said South coach David Bacon, an assistant coach from Cooper. “Late (in the game), I think they (the North) got it (within) eight or 10 at one point, and you can put those two guys out front, and they did a really good job finishing the game and stretching the lead and controlling the pace. Drew did that for us all year (at Cooper), and I know that Raven did it for Central.
“They both did a good job defensively as well, putting pressure on their guards.”
Ortiz, a 6-foot-1 point guard, hit 7 of 9 shots from the field, including 2 of 4 3-point goals, while coming up with five steals in being the named the game’s MVP.
“It was good,” Ortiz said about playing – and shining – in a game with so much talent. “I had fun playing with them. On a team with talent like that, you have to up your game a little more.”
Gonzalez, a 5-8 point guard, hit 7 of 17 shots from the field, including 2 of 5 3-point goals. He also had a game-high four assists and matched Ortiz with five steals.
“We both clicked,” Gonzalez said about playing alongside Ortiz. “I’ve known him since we were little. It was really great to play with him – really an honor – especially him being from San Angelo. But we really did that work and came out with the W.”
Early’s Victoriano Cooper and Brownwood’s Bryson Monroe added 12 and 10 points, respectively for the South, which snapped a two-game losing streak in the game for Big Country grads.
Tolar’s Grady McQuain led the North with a game-high 27 points. He also had nine rebounds. Snyder’s Eber Murillo followed with nine points and a game-high 15 rebounds and six steals. Abilene High’s Hayden Williams also had eight points.
Little guys steal the show
You would think on a South team boasting co-District 4-5A MVPs in Wylie’s Avery Brekke and Cooper’s Jalen Cherry, along with other standout players, it would be one of the big-name guys to lead the South.
Yet the North double- and triple-teamed 6-7 Brekke, who still finished with nine points and a team-high nine rebounds.
“I never can have fun,” Brekke said. “I’m always getting triple-teamed, no matter what game it is. It worked for us. They triple-teamed me, and I just kicked it back out and I knew somebody would hit a 3.”
Ortiz, Gonzalez, Cooper and Monroe each hit two of the South’s eight treys. The North hit four 3s.
The North also made sure Cherry didn’t get any good looks at the basket. He had two points on 1 of 6 field-goal attempts, including misses on all four shots from beyond the 3-point line.
“The North did a really good job closing down on Brekke, and they also definitely read their scouting report on Cherry, because they pushed up on him hard,” Bacon said. “That was definitely a big plus having two guards to cover up for taking those two guys away.”
The South force 23 turnovers and outscored the North 28-18 off the miscues.
“That’s a lot, and that’s a good team,” Bacon said. “They (Ortiz and Gonzalez) controlled the game the whole way.”
Bacon enjoyed working with a star-studded cast.
“It was a ton of fun,” Bacon said. “It’s amazing how much less you have to say to guys this smart and this talented, because they’re so smart and they pick things up really quickly. Things you have to say five, 10, 15 times during the regular season, you don’t have to in an all-star game.”
While it was an all-star game with little at stake, Bacon was animated and showed a lot of emotion while coaching the game. His fiery demeanor might have played in a role in two of his players picking up technical fouls just seconds apart in the second half despite a big lead.
“I kind of have one speed, and I tried to back it off a little bit,” said Bacon, who coached the South along with Bronte’s Rocky Rawls. “I was an all-star gamey as I guess I can be.
“Having Coach Rawls with me was really good. A big shout out to him. He’s won about 750 more games than I have, and he let me do this this week when he easily could have grabbed the reins, mainly because we have Cherry and Drew, two of our kids, and he understood why I wanted to coach them.”
Joey D. Richards covers Abilene high schools and colleges, Big Country schools and other local sports. Follow him at Twitter at ARN_Joey. If you appreciate locally driven news, you can support local journalists with a digital subscription to ReporterNews.com.
BIG COUNTRY FCA ALL-STAR GAME
South 89, North 79
South … 45 … 44 – 89
North … 35 … 38 – 73
SOUTH – Andrew Gonzalez 7-17 1-2 17, Victoriana Cooper 5-7 0-0 12, Bryson Monroe 4-7 0-0 10, Jacob Richardson 3-7 0-0 6, Avery Brekke 2-5 5-6 9, Bailey Blackwell 0-2 0-0 0, Nathan Treadaway 0-2 2-2 2, Justin Cuellar 0-1 0-0 0, Raven Ortiz 7-9 5-8 21, Dylan Jennings 1-3 0-0 2, Jalen Cherry 1-6 0-0 2, Luke Moss 0-1 0-0 0, Ben Eshelman 2-3 0-0 4, Reagan Mejia 1-3 0-0 2, Chaney Bahlman 1-1 0-0 2, Cason Guthrie 0-1 0-2 0. Totals 34-74 13-20 89.
NORTH – Hayden Williams 2-18 4-5 8, Grady McQuain 11-21 5-11 27, Kyler Phillips 1-3 1-3 3, Eber Murillo 4-9 1-2 9, Cody Harwell 2-8 2-2 6, Kallan Kimbrough 0-1 0-0 0, Jace Richardson 2-5 0-0 6, Mason Hagler 1-4 0-0 2, Joseph Click 1-1 0-0 3, Caden Howard 1-2 0-4 2, Jayce Komppa 0-0 0-0 0, Brayden Pike 1-2 0-0 2, Kort Sargeant 2-5 0-0 5, Colton Dollar 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-79 13-27 73.
3-Point Goals – South 8-31 (Gonzalez 2-5, Cooper 2-3, Monroe 2-5, Richardson 0-2, Blackwell 0-2, Treadaway 0-1, Cuellar 0-1, Ortiz 2-4, Jennings 0-1, Cherry 0-4, Moss 0-1, Mejia 0-1, Guthrie 0-1) ], North 4-29 (Williams 0-9, McQuain 0-3, Phillips 0-1, Murillo 0-2, Harwell 0-4, Richardson 2-3, Hagler 0-2, Click 1-1, Howard 0-1, Pike 0-1, Sargeant 1-1). Rebounds – South 48 (Brekke), North 53 (Murillo 15). Assists – South 14 (Gonzalez 4), North 3 (three with one each). Total Fouls – South 19, North 10. Fouled Out – South: None; North: None. Technical Fouls – South: Moss, Jennings; North: None.
This article originally appeared on Abilene Reporter-News: South men upend North in Big Country FCA All-Star Basketball game