MURRIETA ---- In a day and age where all-star games are full of lackluster efforts, the Fifth Annual Desert Valley All-Star game is a refreshing change.
A total of 63 athletes representing over 30 schools converged on Vista Murrieta High School on Friday night to showcase the wealth of basketball talent in the Inland Valley, and they didn't disappoint.
The event featured both a male and female exhibition game, three-point contests and an intense slam dunk competition.
"I remember as a freshman watching all my friends that were seniors playing in this game," said Paloma Valley's D.J. Redd, who scored six points in "away" team's 101-94 loss to the "home" team in the boys game. "I remember thinking that one day I wanted to be here … and now I am here. It feels great."
Redd, who will play college basketball for the University of Minnesota next year, stole the show in the dunk competition. The senior won with his third and final dunk, as he launched himself above a spectator sitting in a chair en route to the basket.
"I honestly didn't know what I was going to do until the day of," Redd said. "I knew that I had to go big."
The boys game was dominated by Roosevelt's Udan Osakue, who was selected as the contest's MVP. Osakue was the games scoring leader with 16 points. Temescal Canyon's Dart Meggs and Riverside Ramona's Leon Wells each collected 14 points.
"It was fun," Murrieta Valley's Austin Quick said. "You don't get a lot of opportunities to do something like this. All the good guys in the community, it' s pretty cool.
"I was kind of surprised how friendly everyone was. When you play them in the regular season, you don't get to really see that side because it's so serious."
Temescal Canyon's Arica Nassar ,who is heading to Oregon State in the fall, was named the girls MVP and was the leading scorer with 19 points as the girls' "away" team won, 80-77.
After a back-and-forth first half, the home squad pulled ahead before the break, 39-37, when Vista Murrieta's Candace Love sunk a pair of free throws with six seconds remaining.
The visiting team pulled away in the second half behind strong second half performances from Murrieta Valley's Jasmyn Lecompte and Nassar, who scored 11 and 12 respectively in the frame.
In the 3-point competition, Great Oak's Michael Brown connected on eight 3s in an overtime period against Quick. San Jacinto's Anthony Collins won the boys free throw competition.
In the girls' 3-point shooting competition, Elsinore's Courtney Chadwick showcased her long range abilities. Chadwick got in the grove during the final round against Heritage's Sparkle Williams, draining 14 baskets from behind the arch in the allotted minute to clinch the title.
Murrieta Valley's Amber Wharton proved to be the top free-throw shooter on the night, burying 5-of-6 shots in an overtime shootout to defeat Linfield Christian's Delany Welch.