For the first few minutes of Saturday night’s Gerald A. Pilz and Friends All-Star Basketball Games at Keeter Gymnasium, Andrew Mitchell felt like he had gone back in time.
It wasn’t a pleasant memory, either.
Mitchell had a cold-shooting start to the 25th annual game showcasing some of the best and brightest basketball talents in the region.
It was the same feeling he had when Blue Eye High School took on New Covenant Academy in the semifinals of the Class 2 District 10 Tournament in February.
He didn’t score for the first 31 minutes of that game, then scored seven points in the final 59 seconds, leading the Bulldogs to a victory.
It was much the same feeling on Saturday night, when Mitchell suited up for the Red Team in the all-star showcase.
Mitchell made his first shot, on a low-post move, then missed his next six shots.
There were a pair of 3-pointers, a long-range jumper, and a pair of contested short shots off of offensive rebounds, and another 3-point miss.
“It was very frustrating,” Mitchell said. “If I was missing, I was just not meant to make it. So I needed to do other things, like rebound and play defense. I had to guard three different big guys, so it was a load.
“I was just trying to do what helped us to score.”
After starting 1-for-7 from the field, Mitchell definitely found a way to help his team score.
He made his next seven 3-pointers, went 13-for-18 after that slow start and finished with 11 3-pointers and 39 points in the Red Team’s 114-104 loss.
“Later on, finding that 3 helped a lot, too,” Mitchell said in one of the biggest understatements of the night.
“Whenever I get one, I figure, ‘OK, now I can make another one.’ When it gets going, as a shooter, you always think you’re going to make it. You can never doubt yourself, you always have to keep going.”
Mitchell’s run of seven consecutive treys included a pair of makes from NBA 3-point range, turned a 50-38 lead for the White Team into a 62-61 White lead at the half.
“All-star games usually don’t have much defense, so you have to play a lot of offense,” Mitchell said. “This game was a good game, both teams were playing some good defense, and there was a lot of offense.
“I really enjoyed it.”
Even with the loss, it was a night of hot-shooting highlights for Mitchell, the two-time reigning Tri-Lakes Player of the Year.
It marked his final playing appearance representing Blue Eye High School, and was (hopefully) a preview of sorts for his future career at College of the Ozarks, where he is one of the most decorated recruits coming in for the Bobcats.
Putting on a show like that was significant for Mitchell.
“It means a lot, I am really looking forward to the future and playing here,” Mitchell said. “It made a statement, to what’s to come, from Jake (Farnsworth) and all the other C of O people who were on the court.
“It shows C of O has a bright future, and I’m really excited about that.”
Farnsworth also put together a highlight-reel performance for the Red Team. The Fordland High School graduate showed deep range, a willingness to shoot without any second thoughts, and also delivered some nice passes and drives to the bucket.
“He likes to shoot it, and that’s what I like about playing with him,” Mitchell said. “He’s not hesitant about shooting it. When he’s making it, he can just keep the ball and keep shooting it. I don’t even care.
“I haven’t seen him a lot of him, but if he’s making it, I’m not going to question it.”
Braxton Haff of Brookland was named the MVP after leading the White Team to the victory.
The Pilz girls’ all-star game featured one of the three incoming recruits for the College of the Ozarks women’s basketball game: Strafford High School graduate Kayley Frank.
Before the game, Frank had a little bit of pressure added to her shoulders by a C of O fan.
“Before the game, there was a C of O fan who came up to me and said, ‘I’ve been telling everybody about you, so you better not disappoint.’ ”
If that pressure weighed on Frank, she did a good job of showing it.
Frank scored 17 first-half points for the Blue Team, finished with 33 for the game and was named MVP for the contest, which ended with a 77-61 victory for the White Team.
“After the game, I was like, ‘Well, how did I do? Did I disappoint?’ ” Frank said with a chuckle.
“I think it’s definitely just knowing that they are here watching, and I’m going to see them during the season, too, and that’s special.”
Frank scored in just about every way possible.
She made three shots from 3-point range, added a long 2-pointer, made four shots from inside of 10 feet, and didn’t miss in 11 free-throw tries. It was a performance that was dominant, but she made it look easy.
“I just wanted to go out there and do my best and look to score,” Frank said. “Not really playing with anyone before, it’s kind of hard to run an offense, so you just need to learn from the first few minutes of the game and then go off of that.
“I think you should try to play defense, but not everybody always plays the best defense.”
Next up for Frank is her future at C of O, coming in with a freshman class that includes Julie Stone of Thayer and Harper Little of Clever.
They will join a program that has won 30 or more games seven times in the last 14 seasons and is a regular in the NAIA Division II national rankings and the national tournament.
“I’m ready,” Frank said. “It’s going to be a new experience, but I need to be ready for it. I’ve got to keep working hard and see where it all takes me.”
Blue Eye graduate Taylor Arnold finished off her high school career with her final all-star game appearance.
She played on the White Team and finished with 13 points – 11 in the first half.
Arnold made one 3-pointer and scored the rest of her points on a variety of short- and mid-range jumpers.