MURRIETA ---- Senior high school basketball standouts from around the Valley and beyond converged on one court Friday night to showcase their skills in the sixth annual Desert Valley All-Star Games.
The event, which featured more than 60 players from 23 different schools, allowed seniors a final opportunity to display their abilities and share the hardwood with local peers.
"It's just a great way to end your high school career," Chaparral's Jessica Pino said. "This is a game that I have always wanted to play in. I remember watching my brother in this game years ago, and attended it all through high school. It's just a great experience."
The contest also provided Pino with the opportunity to share the court with her father, Chaparral coach Mike Pino, one final time.
"Every time I am able to coach her it's a special thing, but tonight was great because it was just for fun" Mike Pino said. "There was no pressure out there, and the level of basketball was very high. It was also nice to see the group of girls that my daughter grew up playing with get to play together one more time before we kick them out to college."
The 6-foot-3 UC Santa Barbara-bound Pino finished her night with 13 points, helping to lead her "Home" team to a 79-72 victory over the "Away" team. Riverside North's Akilah Martin won the girls game's MVP honors with a 17-point performance.
Murrieta Valley's Jackson Helms was the MVP of the boys game, as he led his 'Away' team to a 122-99 victory over the 'Home" team.
Sidelined from the girls contest was The Californian's All-Valley Player of the Year, Katie Clark, of Murrieta Valley. The John Hopkins-bound Clark, who tore her ACL during the Nighthawks' first-round state-tournament game, was in attendance, showing support from the bench.
"I still had a good time tonight," Clark said. "You get to know all these girls over the years, and I'm just happy for them all."
Clark said that she is still on track to play for John Hopkins this fall, and estimates that her recovery could take anywhere from two to six months.
Helms enjoyed the experience.
"It's cool to play with a bunch of dudes who in the regular season are your rival," Helms said. "I came out tonight just looking to have a fun time."
Murrieta Valley's Darius Butler and Murrieta Mesa's Nathan Wright each scored 16 points.
The event also featured several skills competitions. North's Shajanae Moss and Perris' Devon Ware won the free-throw contest, while Jurupa Valley's Alisha Trejo and Hemet's Logan Sadler came out on top of the 3-point competition.
North's Aaron Peck won the slam-dunk contest.