YAIAA seniors use curtain call to benefit Johnathen Speelman, support Peter Falci
From an alley-oop between former rivals to the jerseys worn specifically for Sunday's YAIAA boys' basketball all-star game, the doubleheader at Dover Area High School provided a few surreal moments.
They were a sight to behold for Johnathen Speelman, the 12-year-old West York Middle School student benefiting from this year's games. Speelman suffers from an incurable eye disease.
"Unfortunately, he will eventually be going blind," YAIAA all-star game president Michael Mummert told the crowd.
Mummert, also a secretary for the York White Rose Lions Club, learned of Speelman in December while organizing this year's senior basketball showcase and searching for a beneficiary. Mummert discovered Speelman, a seventh-grader, loves basketball and is a highly ranked chess player.
To him, that made selecting Speelman an appropriate move.
"We're all about vision with the Lions Club, so how are you going to turn this kid down?" Mummert said. "I don't know if he knows the timetable, but he could wake up one morning and not see. He looks forward to that every morning when he can wake up and see light."
Last year's all-star games benefited paralyzed Army Cpl. Matthew Hanes of East Manchester Township. On Sunday, Speelman watched both games with his mother, Lori.
First, they saw a back-and-forth girls' game.
It ended with York Catholic's Hannah Laslo pulling off a steal and hoisting a last-second shot in her team's 81-78 victory. Laslo, the 6-foot-1 senior headed to Seton Hill, saw her attempt sail far off its mark.
Laslo smiled after leaving her wrist bent in the air on the follow through. Centers usually don't get to take that shot.
As for the typical, Kari Lankford's steady trips to the free-throw line were reminiscent of her career at West York. The Bulldogs' all-time leading scorer managed to reach double-digit attempts just like a regular game.
"I didn't even try that," Lankford said. "They just fouled me. I was like, 'Oh my goodness.'"
A combined 48 free-throw attempts slowed the girls' game compared to just 16 total in the boys' matchup.
While they are normal for Lankford, Delone Catholic senior Maddie Comly joked her irregular game-high 13 rebounds wouldn't have been typical for the Squirettes.
"We're not trying as hard on defense, so that gives us gaps to go in and get rebounds," Comly said of the all-star game.
Even the smallest player, 5-foot Ashley Meyer of Northeastern, jumped in the paint for a half-dozen boards.
"It happens a lot actually," Meyer said. "I think it's because I'm so short people don't realize I sneak in there."
Before both games, Mummert used a microphone to dissuade players from ramping up their defense. It showed in a 133-114 boys' win for a YAIAA Division I-led squad that featured Central York's Sam Saxton and William Penn's Jahaire Wilson.
They played four other times this season and met in the YAIAA tournament final and a district tournament quarterfinal. Late in the first half, Saxton lobbed a pass for Wilson to slam. Even Saxton's regular Central York teammate, Peter Falci, found it bizarre.
"It felt really good," Saxton admitted. "I wish I could have done that all year. Having Jahaire makes things a little easier."
They all were teammates on this day.
Saxton, Wilson and their group wore orange jerseys with the No. 3 on the back of each. "For Pete's sake" was written above the numbers on the back. The same jerseys, but in black with orange writing, were worn by the other squad.
The coaches designed them to honor Falci, the Central York senior diagnosed last month with cancer.
Falci sat on the bench Sunday after walking into the gym and spotting the jerseys for the first time. He didn't even see the design on the back until Saxton pulled one up.
For the last time this season, the basketball community had a surprise for Falci. One came a week after his diagnosis, when other teams bought shirts and wore them during the postseason to show support. Another followed in Central's final game during the state tournament, when Falci was introduced as an honorary starter.
"It just means a lot to me," he said. "All of the little stuff like someone saying hi or good luck."
York Catholic's Paul Martello scored a game-high 30 points in the boys' game. He connected on six 3-pointers, including five straight in the second half.
Contact Matt Goul at 771-2045.
YAIAA Girls' Senior All-Star Game
TEAM 2 (81)
Leah Myers 1 1-2 3, Payton Hauck 2 6-8 10, Kari Lankford 4 8-11 16, Emily Wood 2 0-0 5, Hannah Laslo 5 1-2 11, Sela Fuhrman 3 0-0 6, Marissa Ressler 3 2-3 8, Ashley Meyer 2 5-7 9, Claudia Mingora 3 0-0 7, Haley Nalls 0 0-0 0, Anne Lehr 3 0-1 6.
Totals — 28 23-34 81.
TEAM 1 (78)
Maddie Comly 10 3-3 24, Kelsey Wisner 2 0-1 4, Kayleigh Thomas 3 0-0 7, Amari Johnson 4 2-2 11, Taryn Crone 1 0-0 2, Debria Hendricks 4 2-2 11, Jensen Sneeringer 2 0-0 5, Katie McGowan 0 1-2 1, Rebecca Isaac 2 1-2 5, Emily Clinton 3 0-0 6, Shannon Kuhn 0 2-2 2.
Totals — 31 11-14 78.
Team 23942—81Team 14038—78
3-point goals — Team 1: 2 (Wood, Mingora), Team 2: 5 (Comly, Thomas, Johnson, Hendricks, Sneeringer).
YAIAA Boys' Senior All-Star Game
Team 2 (114)
Ryan Beck 8 2-4 19, Michael Coleman 9 0-0 22, Tyler Lampe 1 0-2 2, Josh Stroup 3 0-0 7, Derrick Hoffman 4 0-0 9, Kyle Einsig 3 0-0 7, Diego Torres 1 1-2 3, Dylan Krieger 5 0-0 10, Paul Martello 12 0-0 30, Colin Bortner 2 0-0 5.
Totals — 48 3-8 114.
Team 1 (133)
Donte Grim 8 4-5 21, David Riley 3 0-0 6, Sam Saxton 6 0-0 13, D'Montie Shaw 6 1-2 13, Jahaire Wilson 11 0-0 22, Stone McCreary 4 0-0 11, C.J. Boxley 7 1-1 17, Austin Albright 3 0-0 7, Jimmy O'Boyle 6 0-0 14, Darius Rowlette 4 0-0 9.
Totals — 58 6-8 133.
Team 25460—114Team 17063—133
3-point goals — Team 2: 15 (Martello 6, Coleman 4, Beck, Stroup, Hoffman, Einsig, Bortner), Team 1: 11 (McCreary 3, Boxley 2, O'Boyle 2, Grim, Saxton, Albright, Rowlette).