Locals carry all-star team to win
Former Ozark 7 foes join to score more than half of team's points
NEOSHO -- For four years, Southwest's Blake Barnes and Verona's Dre Sitton battled each other on the hardwood during Ozark 7 Conference play and summer leagues.
On Saturday, the duo got to show what they were capable of when they were on the same team.
Barnes and Sitton led the Blue All-Stars to an 87-64 win over the White All-Stars in the 36th annual Lions All-Star Twin Classic.
Sitton led all scorers with 24 points, and Barnes was second with 17.
"We've played against each other so much over our careers that we just clicked on the floor," Barnes said. "We each knew what the other could do and fed off that. I'll tell you this much, it was great to finally play with Dre, instead of against him."
The Blue Team contained a total of four Ozark 7 players.
Verona accounted for three of those, including Sitton, Seth Hilton and Cody Musick. Hilton checked in with 8 points and Musick finished with 5. In total, the Ozark 7 Conference players recorded more than half of the Blue Team's points.
Exeter's Terry Cook and Purdy's Robby Moody both saw action on the White All-Star squad and each recorded 2 points.
"This was great," Sitton said about the game's atmosphere. "You go from your season's end to getting to play one more game with your friends and guys you have known forever, and to top it off, you win."
Despite a decided height advantage for the White All-Stars, the Blue All-Stars used the great equalizer -- the 3-pointer -- to control the game.
In all, the Blue Team connected 13 times from behind the arc. Sitton was responsible for six of those long-distance hookups.
"I thought we played like a team and didn't just jack up shot after shot," said Brad Stewart, who coaches at Verona and was tapped to lead the Blue All-Stars. "To me, the neat thing was getting to coach my guys one more time and earning a win. The kids deserved that."
The Blue All-Stars jumped out to a 19-5 advantage in the first five minutes.
Monett's Collin Randles scored all 6 of his points in the first five minutes.
"Collin was a big key for us early," Stewart said. "He got those quick buckets and that forced their defense to collapse [on him] every time he touched the ball. It opened the outside for all of our shooters."
The Blue All-Star lead reached 20 points mid-way through the half on a trey by Hilton and moved to 44-19 late in the first half following another long bomb from Musick and a jumper from Barnes.
The White All-Stars pulled within 14 in the second half before back-to-back triples by Sitton deflated the rally.