Monday, June 24, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Anderson, Watkins earn MVPs

Leader sports editor

North Little Rock basketball standout Dayshawn Watkins and Cabot softball catcher Taylor Anderson earned Most Valuable Player awards for their performances.

The East boys basketball team provided the bulk of the highlights, but several local athletes turned in strong performances in the first three days of competition at the 2013 Arkansas High School All-Star week.

The top graduated seniors from all around the state in every sport were selected to spend a week at the University of Central Arkansas and compete in East-West All-Star games, which began with baseball and softball on Tuesday.

Thursday’s boys basketball game stole the show, at least for half the state. The East squad, led by MVP Watkins, routed the West 98-50 in the most lopsided final score in the 57-year history of the event.

Watkins’ former teammate at North Little Rock High School, Thomas Alexander, was named the East’s Outstanding Player. The Wildcat duo were the only two players to score in double figures.

Watkins dropped in 18, with 16 coming in the first quarter to blow open a briefly close game. He hit four three pointers, including three in a row that turned an 8-8 game into 17-8. Alexander added 13.

Jacksonville’s Justin McCleary added two three pointers to the East’s long-range barrage and finished with six points.

Anderson went 2 for 3 at the plate with two runs batted in during her time on the field in the doubleheader split.

The West won game one 8-1, but the East bounced back for a 10-8 win in game two. Anderson’s base hit in game two tied the game at 4-4, and started a five-run rally that only ended because of an All-Star game rule that only allow up to five runs per inning.

Beebe’s Jamie Jackson scored four points to help the East win the girls basketball game, which was the opposite of the fast-paced highlight reel the boys game was.

The East and West girls battled evenly throughout a defensive struggle until the East girls pulled away late in the fifth period for a 57-47 win.

Fort Smith Southside guard Callie White was named the game’s Most Valuable Player for a game-high 10 points for the East squad. Three East players added six points and two scored five in the evenly-scored game for the East.

The girls soccer game gave fans the most exciting finish, with the West girls winning 4-3 on penalty kicks. Sylvan Hills Naomi Gregory stood in goal for the East early in the game and gave up nothing before yielding to a teammate for the duration of regulation. She was brought back in to defend the penalty kick round when regulation ended in a 0-0 tie. Gregory made three impressive saves, but many of the East’s penalty kicks were off their mark as the West girls sneaked away with the win.

The boys soccer game also came down to penalty kicks, but this time the East won by a score of 3-1. North Little Rock’s Jack Fleming didn’t score a goal for the East squad, but did earn the title of team captain during preparation for the game early in the week.

North Pulaski’s Ulises Arias also played considerable minutes during regulation that ended in a 3-3 tie.

East goalkeeper Jared Theike was named the game’s MVP for saving all but one of the West’s penalty kicks.

North Little Rock’s Mykeedra Johnson played well for the overmatched East squad in the All-Star volleyball game on Wednesday. The West won two routes over the much smaller East lineup.

Other local athletes to participate included North Little Rock’s Katie Van Pelt (soccer) and Alex Gosser (baseball). Lonoke’s Hannah Murray and Sylvan Hills Jeana Canady took part in the softball doubleheader.