Originally Posted Online: March 25, 2013, 10:55 pm
Last Updated: March 26, 2013, 12:01 am

Illinois dominates boys' star showcase

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By Steve Tappa, stappa@qconline.com

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Photo: Paul Colletti
Erie's Jacob Johnston shoots past Burlington's Justin Randle during the Iowa-Illinois Senior All-Star Basketball Showcase at Augustana College in Rock Island on Monday, March 25, 2013. The annual event pits local all-star talent from Iowa and Illinois high schools against each other.

The Iowa side got the state trophies this prep basketball season.

Yet, Illinois earned the boys' bragging rights again in the campaign-ending Iowa-Illinois Senior All-Star Showcase.

Led by a quartet of double-figure scorers from Western Big 6 Conference champ Rock Island, Lincoln Land rolled past the Hawkeye State, 87-69 Monday in the 14th annual event at Augustana College's Carver Center.

In the end, Rocky sixth-man Trae Babers earned MVP honors from the coaches and media over starting teammates Brian Richardson, Raahsaan Brown and Robert Johnson from the sectional finalists.

"The best kept secret in the Quad-Cities," Brown raved about Babers, who posted an all-around line of 13 points, 6 rebounds, 4 steals and 2 assists. "Trae was big for us this season and proved that (Monday) night."

Brown was pretty good, too, finishing with 12 points, including a couple of baskets down the stretch that halted an Iowa comeback bid.

Richardson (game-high 17 points) and Johnson (10 points, 8 rebounds) also made strong bids for the MVP award, with the Rocky foursome pairing up at times to power Illinois' second straight win in the series and eighth overall.

Brown also nearly won the halftime dunk contest, emerging with the highest score from the preliminaries before pulling up lame on his first attempt in the finals against Burlington's Justin Randle.

"My knee started giving out on me. But I gave it a little break and it was good to go in the second half," said Brown, who hopes to play next winter at Freeport's Highland Community College. "It was all for fun anyway so it didn't bother me that much. We got what we wanted anyway. We went out together with a bang."

Babers especially. The guard started all of four games during Rocky's 25-5 season.

"If I had an open shot, I'd take it, but I was looking to pass first and get my teammates involved," said Babers, who knocked down a 3-pointer with 12:45 remaining to key a decisive 15-3 second-half run. "Before the game, looking at the rosters, a lot of people were saying they were going to beat us by 20 points. But that just fired us up to come out and prove them wrong."

Team Iowa boasted players from state-place winners Bettendorf (second in Class 4A) and Assumption (fourth in 3A), but Team Illinois had the Rocks on the floor together at times.

"It worked to our advantage because we all know each other so well, our strengths and weaknesses," said Babers, who is choosing between small-schools Monmouth, Knox and Aurora for college hoops. "We just had fun playing together one last time. It's bittersweet right now. But everything has to come to an end eventually."

Geneseo's 6-foot-7 Austin Frank (12 points, 10 rebounds) and Galesburg's Ryan Carl (10 boards) also helped the Illinoisans to a commanding 68-43 edge on the glass.

Pleasant Valley's Kain Artofer (12 points) and Assumption's Truman State-signed Billy Daniel (11 points) paced Team Iowa.

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Illinois 87, Iowa 69

ILLINOIS (8-6)

Babers 5-12 0-0 1 6 13, Starkey 2-8 0-0 2 7 4, Johnston 2-6 0-0 0 2 5, Richardson 8-15 0-1 1 3 17, Johnson 5-9 0-0 1 9 10, Stabler 0-2 0-2 3 4 0, Hoogerwerf 1-2 2-4 0 7 5, Wood 1-7 0-2 3 3 3, Brown 6-15 0-0 1 4 12, Carl 2-7 2-2 3 10 6, Frank 5-11 2-2 0 10 12. Totals 37-94 6-13 15 68 87.

IOWA (6-8)

Samuelson 2-4 0-1 0 4 5, Smith 0-2 4-4 0 1 4, Bryant 1-3 0-0 1 2 2, Randle 3-5 0-0 2 2 7, Artofer 4-10 2-2 1 5 12, Vonderhaar 2-9 2-2 1 5 7, Daniel 2-15 6-10 0 6 11, Davis 2-11 4-6 0 6 9, Claussen 2-3 1-1 3 3 5, Schebler 2-4 0-0 1 2 5, Tubbs 1-2 0-0 1 0 2. Totals 21-68 19-26 10 43 69.

Halftime: Illinois 42-34. 3s pointers: IL 7-29 (Babers 3-7, Hoogerwerf 1-1, Johnston 1-2, Richardson 1-4, Wood 1-7, Starkey 0-1, Carl 0-2, Stabler 0-2, Brown 0-3), IA 8-32 (Artofer 2-6, Randle 1-1, Samuelson 1-3, Schebler 1-3, Davis 1-4, Vonderhaar 1-7, Daniel 1-7, Smith 0-1). Turnovers: IL 20, IA 23. Assists: IL 12 (Hoogerwerf 5), IA 9 (Smith 3). Steals: IL 15 (Babers 4, Starkey 4), IA 8 (Smith 3). Blocked shots: IL 1 (Johnson 1), IA 5 (Randle 4). MVP: Trae Babers, Rock Island. 

Dunk contest

Preliminaries (top two advance): Iowa: Justin Randle, Burlington, 39-41--80; Nick Schebler, Assumption, 0-35--35; Demarcus Davis, Davenport North, 0-28--28; Connor Bryant, Pleasant Valley, 0-DNP--0; Illinois: Raahsaan Brown, Rock Island, 46-43--89; Jacob Johnston, Erie, 42-37--79; Austin Frank, Geneseo, 29-33--62. Finals: Randle 46, Brown 0.