By Kaleb Huffman
Special to the Citizen
INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — After being delayed five days, due to a threat at the game’s original-location at Oak Park High School, The Hoop Focus Culture Run All-Star Game featured a lot of high-flying offense and a 133-132 victory for the Black Team on Wednesday, April 4 at the Marcus Denmon Elite Practice Facility in Independence, Mo.
Park Hill forward Cecil Lee suited up for the victorious Black Team and netted 12 points. The senior played his final game representing the Trojans and perhaps his organized-basketball finale. Lee, has yet to receive any collegiate offers, but he is hopeful that the exposure he gained from the contest will help him keep his career alive.
“To play in this game was so much fun,” Lee said. “To come out with these guys is always a good-time to play against good competition and see how you measure up. I don’t know, if I will get any future offers, but I can’t wait to find out. I love playing basketball.”
Lee, who was joined on the Black Team by just one Division I signee Hogan Prep’s Damien Daniels, who is headed to Abilene Christian.
The White Team featured a pair of Division I signees Ochai Agbaji (Kansas) and Grandview’s Mason Taylor (Air Force). Park Hill South’s Saadique Perkins and Desi Williams were also on the squad allotting Williams, a junior, and Perkins, a senior, a final chance to play together.
The game was heavily dominated by the White Team, as they led 66-47 at halftime and 117-92 before the organizers of the event tied the score at 117 with 4 minutes, 45 seconds remaining to infuse some excitement back into the event.
Before the score change, Williams connected with Perkins on an alley-oop for a grand finale as teammates. The slam by Perkins lifted him to his final tally of four points and the White Team’s final points before the score change, but it gave Williams something he will always remember about his friend (Perkins).
“It was a lot of fun, coming out here and playing with these guys one-last time since a lot of them are seniors. It was good competing with them,” Williams said. “It was the best-feeling ever throwing that oop to Saadique. It’s that Park Hill South connection, that’s my guy.”
Williams has been fielding Division I offers, but has not yet made a decision. He finished the game with 4 points, to match Perkins’ total.
“I am hoping to get a couple of offers here and there. I have been talking to some DIs, but really I just need to keep working hard and improving.”
Once the score became knotted at 117 the Black Team showed some signs of life on both ends of the floor.
Blue Springs’ Daniel Parker Jr. opened the scoring with a triple. Then the White Team matched Parker Jr.’s 3-pointer with one of their own tying the score at 120 with just over 4 minutes remaining.
Over the next few minutes, both teams traded baskets, until The White team got back-to-back buckets from Blue Springs’ RJ Lawrence and St. Joe Lafayette’s Diego Bernard, giving the White Team a 132-128 lead.
With his team behind and under a minute remaining, Lee came up with a slam dunk with 43 seconds left closing the gap to 132-130. After, a defensive stop, Lee, had a chance to tie the game, but was unable to handle an alley-oop that would have been a sure flush, for Lee.
The Black Team came up with another defensive stop and Parker Jr. splashed another 3 from the right-wing to put the Black Team ahead 133-132 with 7 seconds left.
The score held up, after a miss by the White Team and just like that Lee went out a winner in his Trojans finale 133-132 in the Hoop Focus Culture Run.
“I was just trying to get up and make the play, but my legs gave out and the fatigue kicked in,” Lee said. “It felt great being on the winning-side, but really I just love playing basketball.”