Saturday, April 06, 2002

Local all-star series this weekend

High schoolers battle it out on the court

By Ray Schaefer
Enquirer Contributor

        CRESTVIEW HILLS — A high school senior all-star basketball game that started with a conversation on the front porch of an Ohio insurance office comes to Greater Cincinnati tonight.

        The 11th Annual Ohio-Kentucky All-Star series starts with the girls game at 6 p.m. at Thomas More College's Connor Convocation Center, followed by the boys game around 8 p.m.

        The first 10 games were played at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio. Tournament director Randy Ward said the games were moved here because of the bigger market. .

        “We wanted to get to a metropolitan area,” Mr. Ward said. “We feel the game has to grow. We feel it had to get near (a larger) airport, an interstate and more media coverage.”

        And it's a long way from the State Farm Insurance agency in Portsmouth in 1991, where the series was born.

        Then, Mr. Ward crossed the river to talk to his friend, insurance agent Dick Spencer, a member of the Portsmouth High team that won the 1961 Ohio Class AA state title.

        “Portsmouth was big on basketball, and Randy was the head coach at Greenup County High School,” Mr. Spencer said.

        The series has featured numerous future college stars, including University of Cincinnati star Steve Logan, the University of Kentucky's Anthony Epps, Xavier University's Romain Sato, and James Posey, a former Xavier star now with the NBA's Denver Nuggets.

        A tournament committee scouted the players last year when they were juniors and selected 16 boys and 15 girls for each team. The teams include 11 local players.

        For Kentucky, there are Dixie Heights' Joe Bramlage, Campbell County's Kevin Reinhardt, Erica Hallman of Holmes and Tara Boothe of Highlands.

        Playing for Ohio are Josh Hausfeld and Frank Phillips of Roger Bacon, James Cripe of Loveland, Marie Dehne of Mercy, Michelle Harvey of Eastern Brown and Michelle Holmes and Vanessa Lang of Oak Hills.

        The weekend's festivities began Friday at Dixie Heights High School with a 3-point shootout, 1-on-1 and 3-on-3 games and a slam-dunk contest.

        Mr. Bramlage was in the stands Friday.

        “The main goal is to have fun,” he said.

        Mr. Hausfeld, who is headed for Miami University, hit 10 3-pointers in one minute — a total he deemed “all right” because he was tired at the end. It wasn't enough to top Kentuckian Robert Daniels of Shelby County, who had 14, but it drew some needling from Mr. Phillips.

        “He told me he was going to win,” Mr. Phillips said. “I believed him until he shot a couple short.”

        The boys series is even at 5-5, and the Kentucky girls own a 6-4 lead.

        When the games were in Portsmouth, the event was called the “Battle of the Bridge” after the recently demolished Ulysses S. Grant Bridge that linked Portsmouth and South Shore, Ky.

        Mr. Ward said the games would stay at Thomas More for the foreseeable future. And with eight bridges linking Kentucky and Ohio, Mr. Ward might have found a flashier name.

        “We might have to add an S,” Mr. Ward said, “and call it the Battle of the Bridges.”


        The 11th annual Ohio-Kentucky All-Star game at Thomas More College begins with the girls game at 6 p.m., followed by the boys game around 8 p.m. Tickets are $10.

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