By TONY EIERDAM
Mineral Wells post Sydney Shelstead and Santo post Sarah Van Remmen were each selected Most Valuable Players of their respective squads Saturday night at the 24th Annual Chicken Express All-Star Basketball Classic at the Mineral Wells High School gym.
The annual all-star hoops game is put on by Chicken Express, the Mineral Wells Chamber of Commerce and the Mineral Wells Athletic Booster Club.
The game gives area high school seniors a final chance to showcase their skills in front of college coaches and scouts. The MWHS gym was almost full as fans from Mineral Wells and the surrounding area poured into the arena to cheer their players one last time.
In the girls’ game, the West squad, which was led by Van Remmen, who scored 10 points, defeated the East team, 80-67.
Shelstead finished with 25 points and 13 rebounds. She was excited to win an MVP ward in front of her family and the home fans.
“It was really cool,” Shelstead, who will play next year at Abilene Christian University, said. “I enjoyed playing with all of these good girls, and I am honored to have been chosen to play in this game.
“It was weird playing against Niya, but it was fun to play against such good competition. It was challenging to play against Lillie (Vanderzee, Granbury product who will play next year at Texas), and she is really good. I felt I held my own.
“Playing in my own high school gym was really nice.”
Van Remmen was excited about earning her award.
“It feels good to be chosen as my team’s MVP,” Van Remmen said. “Our team atmosphere was good, and I think my rebounding was on, and that is my favorite part of the game.
“I had a lot of supporters at the game, and I appreciate them. But what I will remember most about this game was that the girls I was playing with and against were a lot of fun.”
In the boys’ contest, the West defeated the East, 92-78. Keaton Hickman of Paradise (East) and Arbnor Kelmendi of Stephenville (West) were selected MVPs.
Hickman scored a game-high 19 points while Kelmendi scored 12.
In addition to Shelstead, Mineral Wells senior wing Niya Benavides and Rams forwards A.J. Williams and Ricky Scott played in the respective games.
Benavides scored 10 points for the girls’ West squad, while Williams scored 10 points for the boys’ East and Scott finished with seven for the boys’ West.
Benavides was reunited with one of her former point guards, Brock’s Braylee Flaska who played her freshman and sophomore years at MWHS.
“It was bittersweet playing my last game in an all-star game in my hometown,” Benvides said. “It was really weird playing against Sydney, but the game was still a lot of fun.
“What I will remember most about this game was playing with a lot of girls I usually play against during select ball. And it was awesome playing again with Braylee.
“She fed me a couple of times for some shots, and I think both of my threes came from assists from Braylee. I am glad I got to play my last high school game in my home gym.”
Flaska also commented on playing with her former teammate.
“I love playing with Niya,” Flaska said. “We had played together for so long that (Saturday) it just clicked between us.”
Williams and Scott each displayed what Rams fans saw all year – hustle, persistent defense and ability to score.
Williams got the home crowd to its feet after driving for a layup for a score, and Scott received a huge roar from the crowd after swishing a three-pointer in the first half.
By TONY EIERDAM
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