Heights senior Perry Ellis was named a McDonalds All-American on Thursday and will be one of 24 seniors playing in the annual all-star game March 28 at Chicagos United Center.
This was one of my goals coming in, to show that hard work really pays off, Ellis said. Im just really blessed to be selected. I just thank God for giving me the ability to do all this. Ive been working real hard, too. Hard work really pushed me through this.
Ellis, who averages 26.1 points and 9.7 rebounds, set the City League scoring record this season, breaking the record set by Kapaun Mount Carmels Greg Dreiling in 1981. Ellis is a three-time All-State selection, a three-time Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year and a three-time Class 6A champion.
Heights will try to tie Moundridge for the states longest boys winning streak with a win at Northwest tonight.
Other Kansans named All-Americans were Leavenworths Wayne Simien (2001), Wichitas Korleone Young (1998, while at Virginias Hargrave Academy), Lawrences Danny Manning (1984), Dreiling (1981), Heights Aubrey Sherrod (1981), Heights Antoine Carr (1979), Souths Ricky Ross (1979) and Heights Darnell Valentine (1977).
So many great people have been to it before me. Its an honor to be in something they were a part of, Ellis said.
Easts frustrations The East boys entered the season considered one of the states top teams. But the Aces (10-6) have lost two straight.
Tonight East plays at Kapaun, which has lost three straight. East also had a three-game losing streak in early January when it lost to Kapaun, Northwest and Heights.
Its very frustrating at this point for me and for the guys, East coach Ron Allen said. Were just trying to stay positive and keep our heads up and keep working through with the mindset that something is going to break the way we want it to. It hasnt happened yet.
East is led by Jalen Love, who is averaging 17.3 points. Nathan Jackson averages 11.6.
Allen is searching for answers by watching tape of games played earlier in the season and comparing them to Easts play now. Theres a combination of factors contributing to Easts struggles, including poor third-quarter play, but Allen is focusing on free throws. Missed free throws were an issue in a three-point loss at North and a four-point loss at Southeast.
This is tough, but you have to stay encouraged, Allen said. You dont start moping . We have to correct our mistakes and keep moving forward.
Continued improvement South senior Jessa Molina, who will play at Binghamton (N.Y.) next year, is playing the kind of basketball first-year coach Antwain Scales wants to see from her.
Shes playing good, Scales said. Jess has went through a lot Shes had a coaching change. Im a fair-but-firm coach and Ive shown her how coaching is done at the next level. At first, for the most part, she wasnt buying in. She has the utmost potential, but she needed to maximize that to the most of her ability. Shes playing exceptional for us.
Molina and South (10-5) will have a test tonight when North (6-10) visits. North, which defeated Carroll on Tuesday, is led by a tandem of inside players Naomi Rosales and Maddie Northcutt.
Keeping a memory alive Its been less than a year since Carroll grad Kathleen Duling died in a car accident, but the memory of her is still strong for the Eagles girls team.
Theres a memorial of Duling in a glass case at Carroll, but the Eagles wanted to do more than that, to show that Duling is in their thoughts. Duling was a senior when the current seniors and juniors were freshmen and sophomores. They looked up to her.
So coach Don Racine wears a ribbon during games with Dulings initials and a basketball, and the players wear similar ribbons on their warmup shirts.
Dulings death hit the whole Bishop Carroll community very hard, Racine said. It was a shock to everybody. She was one of the special ones. They are all special, but she was, she worked hard at basketball and she got what she accomplished, and she was happy with it. She was just always a good, happy kid.