Basketball all-star games aren’t known for their defense. Recent Kaneland graduate Ty Carlson found himself in the midst of an extreme example Saturday night.
Carlson played for the victorious North team in the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association 3A/4A All-Star Game at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington. Final score: North 147, South 124.
“It was awesome,” Carlson said. “Playing in the Northern Illinois Big 12, some games are like 32-30. To go from that to 147 was pretty crazy.”
The tradition-rich IBCA All-Star game has featured some of the elite graduated seniors from throughout the state. More spots were up for grabs than usual this year because of a new stipulation making it more difficult for players who already have enrolled in summer school at their colleges to participate.
It also didn’t hurt Carlson’s cause that Kaneland coach Brian Johnson is heavily involved in selecting North’s team.
“I was really excited for Ty,” Johnson said. “I think it was well-deserved. He had an outstanding senior year, capped off with that sectional game where he put in 29 in that first half, which was just amazing. He felt really honored to be a part of that. It was great that he was representing Kaneland.
“My first year Dave [Dudzinski] played in the game, and as a first-year coach, I didn’t realize the meaning behind the game, how great it was, and I wasn’t involved in the IBCA at the time, so I didn’t make it down for when Dave played. But to see Ty be part of it, a lot of guys were excited about it, and people in the community were excited for Ty.”
Carlson had four points in the game, but the 6-foot-3 wing was more enthused about practicing and playing with high-level talent as he gears up for college basketball and college baseball at Aurora University.
Carlson also appreciated a nostalgic twist to the weekend. Former Batavia boys basketball coach Jim Roberts – who coached Carlson’s dad, Josh, at Batavia in the early 1990s – was an assistant coach for the North team.
“[My dad] talked to him beforehand and just thought it was really cool how things played out – my last high school experience was with his old basketball coach,” Carlson said.
Johnson, who was the North team’s head coach last year before swapping roles with Dundee-Crown coach Lance Huber, was happy to add Roberts – an IBCA hall of famer – to the coaching mix.
“There’s been some outstanding, legendary coaches that have coached in the game,” Johnson said. “I just thought it was important. Jim has given back to high school basketball so much and to players in the Batavia community and high school basketball as a whole. I thought it was something nice to kind of honor Jim in that manner. He’s so humble, he didn’t want it to be that big of a deal, so he was able to come out and just be part of the event with the kids.”
Johnson trekked to Bloomington for part of the weekend’s agenda but had to return before Saturday night’s game because of a death in the family.
Johnson preaches a defense-first mentality at Kaneland, so learning of Saturday’s final score might have made him squirm a smidge.
“In the practice game on Friday, you could tell he wanted to coach the defensive side of the ball, but I think he put it aside and just kind of enjoyed the experience,” Carlson said.
• Jay Schwab writes at Shaw Media. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.