Brubacher holds his own against state’s best

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Hillsboro High School’s Grant Brubacher held his own against some of the best high school basketball talent in the state Thursday, scoring 10 points for the South team at the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association All-Star Game played at Shawnee Heights High School near Topeka.


Brubacher and his teammates lost to the North squad, 92-82, but the former Trojan carried his share of the load on defense and offense, which included two fourth-quarter 3-pointers.


The 5-10 point guard, who has signed with Tabor College, played a little less than half the game. Coaches on both sides divided their 12-member squads into two platoons that rotated in and out about every half-quarter.


“The game was fun,” Brubacher said. “It was a pretty relaxed environment and I got along with the guys real well. It was a good experience to get to know some different people and play against some good competition.”


The players arrived on site July 31, the day prior to the game, and practiced that afternoon and again in the evening. The following day they were honored at a reception where several other KBCA awards were distributed.


Brubacher said he was a little nervous before the game, but otherwise felt comfortable on the court.


“I felt like I had earned this honor,” he said. “But I also felt that you want to play well, you want to prove that you belong. There’s always some nerves going in.”


Brubacher said he was satisfied with his performance.


“I played all right,” he said. “I don’t think I embarrassed myself.”


He said he was pleasantly surprised to score in double digits.


“Going into all-star games, you know you’re going to have to try to create your own shots because it’s not the most team-oriented environment,” he said. “You look to shoot the ball and hope it goes in.”


The North’s Jamar Howard led all scorers with 18 points and pulled down 14 rebounds. The Bishop Miege star, who is headed for Wichita State, impressed Brubacher.


“He’s a pretty incredible athlete,” Brubacher said.


Also standing out for Brubacher were South teammate Zack Graber, a guard from Salina South, and North guards Maurice Findley from Buhler and Clint Snyder from Great Bend, whom the Trojans faced last season.


Trojan fans also will remember Justin White, who played for Inman at the Trojan Classic. The lanky 6-10 post player, who has signed with South Alabama, led the South team with 17 points.


For all the talent that was there, a dream matchup between Dennis Latimore, Halstead’s 6-9 star who has signed with Arizona, and Wayne Simien, the 6-9 Leavenworth standout who has signed with Kansas, never materialized.


Latimore spent most of the summer in Arizona and couldn’t commit to play in the KBCA game until it was too late, according to a source close to the selection process.


Simien, who was named the KBCA’s “Mr. Kansas” for 2001, warmed up before the game but did not play because of a prior injury.


In the girls’ game, Kendra Wecker of Marysville, KBCA’s “Miss Kansas” for 2001, scored 25 points and pulled down 11 rebounds to lead the North to a 93-81 win over the South.


Crystal Pitts of Sterling, a member of the South team, scored seven points in a losing cause. She plans to play at Sterling College this winter.


Brubacher was the only player on the boys’ teams to sign with a KCAC school. He felt his all-star experience will prepare him for Tabor and the KCAC.


“It kind of gets you ready for the environment, and also the type of athletes and competition you will be facing in college,” he said.


Brubacher said holding his own against players heading for bigger schools didn’t give him any second thoughts about his own decision.


“I’m still happy about my choice to play at Tabor, especially because I enjoy the guys on the team and it also gives me a chance to compete in more than one sport,” he said.


Brubacher plans to participate in three sports during his freshman year: soccer in fall, basketball in winter and baseball in spring.

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