Massac County's Daz Nickerson spent the early portion of the festivities getting kicked in the head, but he finished it by hitting the biggest shot of the night at the 26th annual All-Star Classic basketball game held at John A. Logan College.
Nickerson's height, listed generously as 5-foot-11, caused him to become a prop in the dunk contest as multiple players tried to jump over him, some more successfully than others.
But after his white-clad squad coached by Marion assistant coach Kevin Toney lost a 19-point lead in the all-star game itself, it was Nickerson who drilled a 3-pointer with three seconds left to help Team Toney defeat Team Belva, 87-84, Sunday afternoon.
Team Belva, which was actually guided by Goreville coach Todd Tripp but named for Ed Belva, made a furious comeback in the final minutes and tied the game with 13 seconds left at 84-all on a trey by Egyptian's Devantae Price, who won that aforementioned dunk contest.
Nickerson's shot put Team Toney back in front and they survived after Steeleville's Darin Winkelman was fouled by Gallatin County's Patrick Lowe on a 3-point shot at the buzzer.
Winkelman missed the first free throw, however, and the game was declared over.
Nickerson was named MVP of Team Toney with 12 points, a team-high honor he shared with Newton's Dylan Davidson and Gallatin County's Andrew Drone. Harrisburg's Capel Henshaw added 11 points, while Pinckneyville's Dylan Hardin and Joshua Jones both had eight points for the winners.
Drone grabbed five rebounds in the game, while Henshaw, who went 3-of-6 from beyond the arc, added two rebounds, one assist and one steal.
Henshaw’s running mate at Harrisburg, Tyler Smithpeters, had to sit out Saturday’s All-Star game with a foot injury.
Henshaw and Hardin had back-to-back baskets at the end of the second quarter to give Team Toney a 48-44 lead at halftime. A three-point play by Hardin with 12:44 left made it an 18-point margin at 71-53 and it was pushed to 19 shortly after before Team Belva rallied.
Price scored a game-high 23 points on 10-of-12 shooting and was named MVP for Team Belva. He was joined in double figures by Trico's George Kuhlman (12) and Winkelman (11). Okawville's Jeremy Weeke had eight and Mt. Vernon's Trevor Flota had seven.
Herrin's Justin Lukens and Johnston City's Austin McPheron also played for Team Belva. McPheron won the 3-point shooting contest prior to the dunk contest.
Other award winners included Woodlawn's Gabe Owens (Ron Herrin Award) and Lowe (Shawn Oldani Hustle Award).