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Local all-stars benefit from prep basketball classic


Matthew Stevens



The common thought would be Starkville High School rising senior Blair Schaefer would be happy with a all-star game performance that included a team-high 17 points, seven rebounds and other individual honors.  


Think again.  


Even in a all-star game where individualism normally overrules the collective effort, Schaefer was more than irritated her North team fell 68-57 to the South squad in the Mississippi Association of Coaches Rising Girls basketball game at Mississippi College Monday.  


"I enjoyed the experience of it very much but I'm an extremely competitive person so whether it's an all-star game or anything else I just hate to lose," Schaefer said. "Everybody was saying how we were so overmatched and wouldn't come within 30 points of that (South) team and we could've won." 


Schaefer, who is verbally committed to play for her dad Vic at Mississippi State University in the fall of 2014, won the free throw shooting competition and took home second place in the three-point shooting challenge.  


The 5-foot-6 point guard looked around at the talent on the North Team, which included a pair of New Hope High stars in Moesha Calmes and D.J. Sanders, and adapted early to the distributor role in the game.  


"You have to go into a game like that confident in your own abilities and I thought even though the South had a size advantage that I could get my post players involved in that game," Schaefer said. "Early on I was able to beat my defender and then dish it when two or three big players would crash on me." 


Sanders had a point in a first half while her and Calmes tried to settle down some nervous jitters. 


"I was very pleased with the aggressiveness they both showed in the game after they looked nervous early on because in terms of pace of play that's as close to a college basketball game that you'll see besides AAU basketball," New Hope High School coach Laura Lee Holman said. "I really hope it gave them a boost of confidence heading into this coming season." 


After seeing Calmes and Sanders' New Hope squad take home a 67-47 win against her Yellow Jackets in the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A North State tournament, Schaefer said she was confident that her North squad teammates Monday night were filled with talent on the perimeter.  


"What that game did for Blair was show everyone around the state that her numbers are real and she's just as talented and has a right to call herself one of the best senior players in Mississippi," Starkville coach Kristie Williams said. "She's doing everything I would hope to become one of our leaders at SHS by continuing to improve her game everyday." 


Against a rightfully hyped South squad that included nationally-ranked prospects Victoria Vivians from Scott Central and Christa Reed of Bay Springs, Schaefer didn't back down from the competition and continued to showcase her impressive game off the dribble and increasing range.  


Sanders, who had 32 points, 12 rebounds, six steals, and four assists against Starkville in the playoff game, was asked to guard Vivians on several occasions in the game.  


"I've had a lot of all-star like experiences in softball but this was my first in basketball so I was overly cautious early on," Sanders said. "As the game went along, it felt good to realize that I belonged out there with everybody else." 


Schaefer continues to take the floor against some of the nation's best by playing AAU basketball currently in Orlando, Fla., with the goal of establishing herself as one of the best point guard prospects in the southeast part of the country.  


"AAU is so much at another level than playing in high school basketball because everybody out there is trying to and probably will get a Division 1 or Division 2 offer," Schaefer said. "Just because I'm already committed (to MSU) doesn't mean I don't need to continue to prepare myself for college basketball." 


Schaefer started the event in Clinton by winning the free throw competition among all the players invited before the girls' all-star game began. The Yellow Jackets guard, who shot above 80 percent from the charity stripe this past season, said it was a competition she needed to win with her father Vic Schaefer watching in the stands.  


"My dad always says that coaches' daughters don't miss free throws so it was something I thought I should've won and I'm glad I did," Schaefer said.  


Schaefer even showcased fundamental defense not normally seen in a all-star game by taking a charge on Vivians during the early minutes of the second half.  


"Again, just another thing my dad is big on is taking charges," Schaefer said. "I've heard him talk about it all the time because it does so many other things. It's a turnover and a foul toward somebody on the other team and it fires up your team at the same time. It's a big deal." 


Vivians, ranked the No. 52 player in the country by HoopGurlz, could possibly be Schaefer's teammate at Mississippi State in two years after Vivians narrowed her choices of schools down to MSU, University of Florida, University of Louisville and University of Kentucky. Vivians led all scorers with 23 points for the South. Reed, ranked No. 58 by HoopGurlz, finished with 14 points and three rebounds.



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