MOUNT VERNON — There was that time when the two shortest guys on the court took the tipoff.
Then there was the time one player attempted all of her free throws with her eyes closed.
Or, how about when one of the players took over as an official?
There is no doubt about it: Anyone who has ever attended the Mount Vernon News All-Star Senior Showcase has witnessed something fun and unusual.
Tonight, the event makes its annual return. For the first time, it will be held at Ariel Arena on the campus of the Mount Vernon Nazarene University.
Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. for the girls all-star game. A three-point contest will follow before the boys game tips off at 8 p.m.
For the 37th edition of the Showcase, there is a new twist.
For the first time in its history, the Mount Vernon News All-Star Senior Showcase boys game will include senior cheerleaders.
“We are excited to bring more of the high school basketball atmosphere to the Showcase with the addition of senior cheerleaders,” said Samantha Scoles, News managing editor. “These young women worked hard in practice Sunday night to merge their school cheers into a single team of all-stars cheerleaders. They are gifted athletes.”
Participating cheerleaders are Aly Brady, East Knox High School; Katy Compton, EKHS; Madalynn Corwin, Northmor High School; Mya Johnson, NHS; Jenna King, Northridge High School; and Sarah Williams, EKHS.
Dawn McNeal is serving as cheer coach for the Senior Showcase.
The games themselves will feature many scoring specialists. Both games are projected to be among the highest-scoring in Showcase history.
Fifteen of the 20 players in the boys all-star game averaged 10 points or more during the season — a record going back at least 15 years. Seven players in the girls game averaged 10 points or more.
The Senior Showcase can be competitive — both games in 2016 were decided by one point — but their focus is really more on letting the seniors have fun. For many, it will be their final night to play in their high school uniform.
One group decided to extend that final night out as much as possible. In 2013, the boys game went to overtime. Then, another. Then, another. It was obvious by the end of the first OT that the players weren’t interested in ending the game, especially when both teams had opportunities for final shots and they weren’t even attempted.
Connor Gregg made the most of his final game. The Clear Fork senior in 2004 completed six alley-oops on the way to scoring 39 points, still a Senior Showcase record. His 19 field goals made is also a record that still stands.
There is also that one senior who didn’t get much playing time during the season, but comes out during the all-star game and shows their stuff. Two years ago, Tad Weldy had just come off scoring his first varsity point — a free throw — in a Centerburg tournament victory. In the Showcase, Weldy hit the first basket of his career. He later followed that up with — what else? — his first 3-pointer.
There were multiple occasions when coaches decided to field five of their own players on the court. Most recently, in 2012, Centerburg girls coach Todd Nauman put five players on the court as his team won in a rout, while Mount Vernon boys coach Kurt Kaufman did the same with four minutes to go and his team trailing by four (they went on to win by three). It also happened in 2006, when Mount Vernon and Johnstown went 5-on-5 to start the second half of the boys game.
Then there are times when skills don’t quite reach the court. In 2010, one of the girls teams went just 1 for 23 from three-point range. Last year, Jordan Elliott attempted what may have been the first and only underhanded three-point shot in Showcase history — which lodged itself between the rim and the backboard. And in 2004, Sara Wise of Clear Fork attempted all of her free throws with her eyes closed. She went 2 for 9.
The Senior-Stars lead the all-time boys series, 19-17. The All-Stars lead the girls series, 20-15. (There was no girls game in 1980).