By Matt Jenkins
---- — LYNN — The talent always seems to amaze the all-stars.
The 9th Annual Agganis Men’s and Women’s All-Star Basketball Classics were played last night at Lynn Classical, and even though both games featured the typical all-star approach — run and gun, minimal defense — the athletes left the sweltering gym impressed with the overall skill level.
The South emerged victorious in both contests. Andover’s Devon Caveney scored 10 points and earned the MVP Award to lead the South to a 51-48 win in the women’s game, while Kenneth Ramos scored a game-high 16 points to lead the South to an 87-72 win in the men’s game.
Ramos, of East Boston, threw down a handful of dunks that excited the crowd and helped him earn the MVP award. Everett’s Tyree Gregory was a late addition to the North roster and he picked up his team’s MVP award with 14 points, including a pair of impressive jams of his own.
“It’s fun being around athletes that are well above my athletic ability, and it’s fun to play with kids from the area that are kids you’ve seen through AAU or just throughout the season,” St. Mary’s of Lynn graduate and Peabody resident Matt Manning said. “It’s pretty awesome to get a chance like this.”
Ipswich’s Julia Davis, who took home the North MVP in the women’s game, felt the same way about her teammates, even though she was the player that sparked her team to a second half run that made the game interesting.
“I haven’t played since our last tournament game and it was good to get out there with a bunch of experienced players. They really helped me out and really we built off each other, and were able to work well together,” Davis said.
Davis’ North team struggled for most of the first half and they trailed 33-23 until Davis buried four straight jumpers for her team to cut the deficit to four (35-31).
The North eventually tied on another 12-0 run sparked by a pair of threes from Danvers’ Kasey Sherry. Bishop Fenwick’s Rose Fantozzi made one free throw with 4:13 to go to tie the game at 43-43.
The South managed to close the game out for the narrow win.
“It’s a completely different game; everybody is more experienced and more dedicated so it’s in some ways a lot easier because everybody’s focus is there to play basketball,” said Davis, who finished with 12 points. “It’s fun in that sense and it pushes you more because you’re playing with kids that are as good as you or better.”
Even though these types of all-star games tend to be fun, the competitors rise to the occasion down the stretch.
“I think they knew we had to play tight defense at the end or we would lose. They’re competitors and they did that,” said Bishop Fenwick girls coach Adam DeBaggis, who coached the North. “We just missed a bunch of shots in the first half.”
Sherry was the only other player on the North with double figures, finishing with 11 points.
For the South, Swampscott’s Ara Talkov had eight.
On the men’s side, Salem’s Christian Dunston hit double figures with 10 for the South, while Danvers’ Nick McKenna hit three triples and scored nine points. Manning had seven, Salem’s Billy Muse had six, and Danvers’ Eric Martin had two.
Josh Syska of St. John’s Prep had an excellent game for the North, dropping eight points. Maynard Wheeler of Peabody added six. Beverly’s Cam Rogers (3), Bishop Fenwick’s Ben Maxner (2), and Peabody’s Steven Leavitt (2) also scored.
Triton’s Zakariya Alaoui also hit double figures for the North with 11.
“I would say (playing with these players) frees up a lot of shots for me and gives me a lot more opportunities,” said Manning, who will continue playing basketball at Rivier University next year. “It’s awesome being with kids that are this talented. I consider myself a pretty talented player and we (St. Mary’s) did pretty well for the Catholic Central League, but these kids are a whole other level of athleticism and skill.”