Staunton coach Corrie Allan named Girls’ Coach of the Year, Gillespie’s Kamryn Link wins slam dunk contest
By JACKSON WILSON
Enquirer Democrat Reporter
The East continued its recent dominance of the West at the 19th annual Rotary All-Star Basketball Classic Mar. 26.
A large crowd packed Carlinville High School’s Big House on West Main to witness 60 elite seniors go head-to-head. Three-point shootouts and a slam dunk contest were additionally held for spectator entertainment.
The East All-Stars once again came out victorious in both contests. The girls won, 68-51, and the boys reigned, 108-97.
The Most Valuable Players of this year’s All-Star games were Layne Rupert of Hillsboro and Devon Peebles of Pana. Rupert scored 14 points to lead the girls and Peebles conducted a balanced band of boys with 25 tallies.
Prior to each contest, the three-point shootouts took place. This year’s competition brought plenty of drama as usual, particualrly on the girls’ side. Paige Henson of Carrollton and Natalie Engelman of Nokomis both nailed 11 of 15 shots in the first round, which tied an event record, and had to battle it out in a 10-shot corner dual to decide the champion. The balance of talent was distributed beyond that particular duo as well. Gianna Pop (Kincaid), Eden Copelin (South County) and Avery Pope (Lincolnwood) each buried 10 triples.
Henson edged Engelman 6-4 in the sudden death playoff. Elijah Aumann of Nokomis hit ten treys and won the boys’ three-point contest, with Ryan Eisenbarth (Nokomis), Peebles and Gillespie’s Bryan Jubelt following closely behind with nine apiece.
At halftime of the boys’ game, Gillespie high-flyer Kamryn Link electrified the gym and brought the crowd to its feet with massive tomahawks to win the slam dunk contest. Link scored 48 points out of possible 50 and beat out Peebles, who placed runner-up with 41 points. North Mac’s Mick Downs and Mulberry Grove’s Arjan Epperson also competed.
Also, as part of the tradition, the Rotary Club recognized a boys’ and girls’ Coach of the Year. The 2023 honorees were Corrie Allan of Staunton and Dan DeWerff of Nokomis.
Allan led her varsity Bulldogs to a school record 26 wins this season, as well as the high school program’s first ever regional title.
Nokomis went 27-7, won the MSM conference and made it to the regional championship game under DeWerff.