Heights senior Perry Ellis was named a McDonald’s All-American on Thursday and will be one of 24 seniors playing in the annual all-star game March 28 at Chicago’s United Center.
“This was one of my goals coming in, to show that hard work really pays off,” Ellis said. “I’m just really blessed to be selected. I just thank God for giving me the ability to do all this. I’ve 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 Carmel’s 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 state’s longest boys winning streak with a win at Northwest tonight.
Other Kansans named All-Americans were Leavenworth’s Wayne Simien (2001), Wichita’s Korleone Young (1998, while at Virginia’s Hargrave Academy), Lawrence’s Danny Manning (1984), Dreiling (1981), Heights’ Aubrey Sherrod (1981), Heights’ Antoine Carr (1979), South’s Ricky Ross (1979) and Heights’ Darnell Valentine (1977).
“So many great people have been to it before me. It’s an honor to be in something they were a part of,” Ellis said.
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.
“It’s very frustrating at this point for me and for the guys,” East coach Ron Allen said. “We’re 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 hasn’t 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 East’s play now. There’s a combination of factors contributing to East’s 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 don’t start moping. We have to correct our mistakes and keep moving forward.”
“She’s playing good,” Scales said. “Jess has went through a lot She’s had a coaching change. I’m a fair-but-firm coach and I’ve shown her how coaching is done at the next level. At first, for the most part, she wasn’t buying in. She has the utmost potential, but she needed to maximize that to the most of her ability. She’s 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.
There’s 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 Duling’s initials and a basketball, and the players wear similar ribbons on their warmup shirts.
Duling’s 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.”