Michigan’s Seniors Show Off Skills In High School All-Star Game
Editor’s Note: If the final score of this all-star listed in this article is incorrect, please feel free to mention the correct score in the comments section and I will have it corrected immediately. Thank you. You heard it from me, Seth Walker
By Seth J. Walker
Wayne, Michigan- Saturday night marked the last official time that Michigan’s top high school seniors got to showcase their skills before moving on to the college level, playing in the second annual Top 20 Girls High School Basketball All-Star Game at Wayne Memorial High School. The East all-stars routed the West all-stars, 94-71. More important than the final score however, was the number of players that had their key moments to shine.
East Lansing High’s Jaida Hampton, headed to Wichita State in the fall, showed why she was selected as this year’s Miss Basketball in Michigan with a game-high 18 points. Hampton led East Lansing to this year’s Class A State Finals.
“It meant a lot (becoming Miss Basketball),” Hampton said. “It meant and showed that all of my hard work had paid off over the years and now I had finally done it; and it was a really big deal to my mom because of how much work she’s put in to make sure I’m where I’m at.”
However, it was Saginaw Heritage’s Jessica Bicknell, who took home all-star game MVP honors after a 17-point, three-assist performance, which included many moments where the fearless guard dived for loose balls, drove to the hoop for an easy layup, or drained threes. Having helped Heritage win a Class A State title this year, the Detroit Mercy-bound guard will join a young nucleus looking to bounce back from a two-win season.
“Yeah, it was about perfect time (we won the state title),” Bicknell said. “We made it to the quarterfinals, my freshman year; so when I went back as a senior, it was important to for me to go all the way.”
Bicknell isn’t the only all-star headed to a local Division I school. Clarkston’s Kayla Luchenbach will be attending Oakland, Detroit Mercy’s arch-rival, also looking to bounce back from tough season. The six-foot-two forward won’t have to go far as she will be among six incoming freshman arriving in the fall to replace five departing seniors.
“As a freshman, I’m just going to try to work as hard as I can to get as many minutes as I can and work my way up throughout my years to more of an important role as I get older,” Luchenbach said.
Another six-foot-two forward, Williamston’s Allison Peplowski, daughter of former NBA player, Mike Peplowski, will be attending South Dakota, which went undefeated in Summit League play before losing to South Dakota State in the Summit League title game. Peplowski showed her relentlessness on the boards with a game-high 15 rebounds to go along with eight points, a near double-double. Despite never feeling pressured to play basketball by her father, she managed to develop great pride in battling in the post on her own, a drive which will serve her well at the next level.
“Playing in the game, I think, nowadays, there’s a lot of guard centered stuff, so my dad just told me “do what you can control” and those things is like defense and rebounding,” Peplowski said. “I always try make it a point to go after rebounds and I think that’s one of the things that got me noticed in recruiting and what I try to really focus on when I play.”
Even in the mist of all of the all-stars from across the state, Wayne Memorial’s own Camree Clegg provided the crowd with a hometown favorite, who didn’t disappoint, with her 12-point, 12-assist effort.
“It means everything, to have this last game in my own gym,” Clegg said. “This will be the last time I’ll play on this court in front of people so I just had to go out there and give out a show. I mean, it’s my home court. I had to defend it.”
Clegg is notable as an all-star headed to Power-Five school, Clemson in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), a program looking to rebuild, but will face stiff competition including Virginia, Duke, North Carolina, Final Four team Louisville, and defending national champion, Notre Dame.
“I definitely want to go in there and make a difference and be a leader,” Clegg said. “Being able to have built a program here at Wayne Memorial is something I have experience with, so I think I can lead them there to success eventually (and) build it back up.”
Other Key Performances
Maxine Moore (Detroit Country Day)- 14 points, nine rebounds. Will be attending Western Michigan.
Lasha Petree (Ann Arbor Prep)- 17 points. Will be attending Bradley.
Kaela Webb (Detroit Country Day)- 15 points, four assists. Will be attending Providence.
Other All-Stars Participating in Game
Deesh Beck (Grand Rapids Christian)- Ohio University
Sha Carter (Birmingham Groves)- Walsh University
Graysen Cockerham (Hartland)- Goshen College
Ellie Dykstra (Byron Center)- Fort Wayne
Vantane Garrett (Detroit Communications and Media Arts)- Michigan-Dearborn
Dalyn Henderson (Detroit Renaissance)- North Dakota State College of Science
Carly Loving (Westland John Glenn)- Schoolcraft College
Ashley Primas (Detroit Edison)- Tennessee State
Emily Spitzley (Pewamo-Westphalia)- Grand Valley State
Jayla Strickland (Big Rapids)- Northwood