Communities in the area have gathered to cheer on their local athletes in the midst of difficult times this year. Tragedies have struck the communities of Hancock and the West Central Area schools, both of which have had strong sports seasons. To mark the end of the Basketball season, an all-star game was organized by the Little 8 and Pheasant conferences, with eyes of raising funds to support communities that have had it tough this year.
The first ever dual-conference all-star game by the Pheasant and Little 8 conferences was held at Hillcrest's Student Activities Center on Sunday, April 8. The girls teams faced off first, with a host of area all-stars flooding the rosters.
With over 300 people in attendance the all-star teams took to their benches. They were randomly assigned teams, with the conference winning coaches taking the reigns of the all-star squads.
Underwood's Brian Hovland stepped in for Parkers Prairie's John Noga to coach Ashley Mattson from Hancock, Madysen Stenger from Ortonville, Corina Mark from Underwood who took the place for Stacey Christenson from Battle Lake who was unable to attend, Brenna Tinjum from Underwood, Anna Murray from Hillcrest, Megan Dreger from Parkers Prairie, Callie Vold from Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley, and Sydney Hovland from Underwood. Hovland's team stormed back in the second half, down 13 points going into the locker room to make adjustments in facing Darin Rinke's all-star squad.
Rinke was the coach of the Pheasant Conference's top girls team, the Wheaton Warriors. Rinke coached Tyler Peters from Ortonville, Anna Rinke from Wheaton, Brianna Kreft from West Central, Tess Steiner from Hancock, Megan Benzinger from Parkers Prairie, Emma Schmidt from Wheaton, Paige Schultz from Hillcrest, and Briona Edwards from Wheaton. Rinke's squad scored 38 points in the first half, and had the games two leading scorers in Anna Rinke with 22 points and Emma Schmidt with 23. All players for both teams found their names on the stat sheet for the game where Rinke's squad won 69-60.
In the guys game Mike Felt from Parkers Prairie coached Wyatt Curtis from Rothsay, Bryce Hoffman from Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley, Darrin Wibstad from Brandon-Evansville, Dawson Staples from West Central, Brady Sabolik from West Central, Sam Ihrke from Hillcrest, Jake Hintermeister from Brandon-Evansville, Landon Lang from Rothsday, Bennett Cameron from Battle Lake, Austin Koep from Parkers Prairie, and Ryan Blake from Parkers Prairie. Felt's's squad was down 10 points at the half, led by Austin Koep and Jake Hintermeister who both finished the game with 17 points.
Corey Bedel pushed his team in the second half, watching them score 54 points in the final half to push into the century mark. Bedel coached James Strese from Brandon-Evansville, Noah Kannegeisser from Hancock, Taylor Bitzen from Brandon-Evansville, Ross Anderson from West Central, Brodey Rocholl from Underwood, Zak Zwiers from Hillcrest, Eric Konynenbelt from Hillcrest, Isaiah Dorn from Battle Lake, and Logan Paulson from West Central. Kannegiesser continued his tear on the basketball court, scoring 28 points, 24 off three-pointers.
The event raised $3200 by free-will donation. The donations will be evenly distributed to the families who experienced tragedy in the Hancock and West Central Area communities. The all-star game was organized by the conference athletic directors, with special arrangements made with Hillcrest and Craig Nersten, Hillcrest's Athletic Director.