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Dave Nichols: All-star showcase will present best high school basketball east of Cascades

I ran into Ron Adams, the Spokane Stars girls AAU coach and longtime organizer of the Jack Blair Memorial girls all-star basketball game, more than two years ago at a girls game at University. He didn’t have good news.

He said that the 2018 all-star game in June would be the last he would have the time and energy to organize. If he didn’t find someone to pass the torch to he’d have to let the game go, and he asked with all of my contacts across the area if I knew of anyone that might be willing to take on the task.

I told him I’d think about it and get back to him. Long story short – I thought about it but once district and state tournaments rolled around later that winter, I lost track of time and didn’t get back to him.

Flash forward to that November, and he reached out again. “Hey, any luck in finding someone to take over the game?”

“Unfortunately not,” I told him. I wished him luck in finding a replacement, secretly figuring that he’d overburden himself and do it anyway.

But June came, and no game. You certainly can’t blame Adams – it’s a lot of time, effort and energy for one guy to put on a high school basketball all-star game for 25 years, even if you do get a lot of volunteers on game day every year.

I heard from a lot of folks – players, family members, coaches and administrators – about how much they missed the game and wished something could be done.

Then, I thought of something I hadn’t before.

Why couldn’t the paper sponsor it? We’re really good at putting on all sorts of events. And we’re exceptional at getting the word out about things. It’s kind of our job.

And why stop with the girls game? Why couldn’t we start a boys all-star game too and make a night of it?

So I broached the idea with my editor, and we took it up the ladder, eventually ending up at Editor-in-Chief Rob Curley, who loves this sort of thing. As long as the organizational duties wouldn’t get in the way of my day job – and we could make sure the financial aspect would work itself out – everyone was on board.

And there you have it.

Introducing The Spokesman-Review Basketball Showcase!

The girls game will still honor Jack Blair, the Central Valley and Lewis and Clark coach and administrator, and the boys game will honor Denny Humphrey, the Hall of Fame boys coach at Cheney and Ritzville.

The games will be held March 17 at Lewis and Clark High School. The girls game will start at 5:30 p.m. and the boys game will be at 7:30.

These games will pit “Metro” against “Region” all-stars and will promote the highest quality of high school basketball and provide the players an opportunity to play with and against the best basketball players – seniors and underclassmen – that Eastern and Central Washington and North Idaho has to offer.

The “Metro” teams will be comprised of Greater Spokane League all-league selections and college-bound players, based on availability.

The “Region” teams will feature all-league players from the Great Northern League and the smaller regional leagues, North Idaho and outstanding players from the Mid-Columbia and Big 9 conferences.

Our goal is to make these competitive, entertaining basketball games and an annual event and marquee attraction during the high school sports year.

We expect these games will generate heavy media attention, both in Spokane and across the state, and they will be promoted heavily in the paper and by our media partners.

And by playing two weeks after state, the players will still be in “basketball shape” and our games will be the first all-star games to be played in the Pacific Northwest each season.

We think the basketball community of Spokane will be as fired up about this event as we are and we hope to see you on March 17 for the inaugural Spokesman-Review Basketball Showcase!

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