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Deep South All-Star Classic enters 4th year tonight at Darton

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- Herman Porter's been coming to nearly every rivalry game in Albany for the last several years, leaving him amazed by the crowds that high school basketball in the area draws and the level of play.

So Southwest Georgia was a no-brainer when he had to pick a spot to hold the first Deep South All-Star Classic, which now enters its fourth year tonight at Darton as the area's most established all-star event known to draw hoards of college scouts.

"I know for a fact that there will be at least 12 colleges with coaches on hand to watch the kids (tonight)," said Porter, a Columbus resident and former AAU coach who also puts on Deep South All-Star Classics in Wikinson County, Tifton and assists with the long-standing Herb Green event each year in Columbus. "But even outside (of the college scouts coming), this event is the last chance (all the basketball fans in Southwest Georgia) will have a chance to see these all-stars play. This game is it."

The games -- which begin with the girls showdown at 6 p.m., followed by the boys at 8 p.m., with a 3-point shootout during halftime of the girls, and a 3-point and dunk contest at halftime of the boys -- will feature the North All-Stars (Albany area players) against the South All-Stars (players from all surrounding counties in Southwest Georgia).

They're still talking about former Westover star Onochie Ochie's elbow in the rim Vince Carter-like dunk that won last year's dunking contest, and anyone who was around a year ago can tell you how Dougherty's Mighty Mouse point guard Arabian Williams stole the show with a double-double (14 points, 10 assists) while leading the North boys all-star team to a 87-66 win against the South, while picking up the MVP award on the way. The North teams won both games last year.

And the stars will align again tonight, this time with a whole new cast of senior talent. And if you have never seen Pelham's D'Ambria Thomas play, here's your chance. "Bria" can do it all, and she was a big reason Pelham had such a exciting season. And if you like players who can run and gun, Americus-Sumter's Jayme Gilbert, the 3-point wizard, is one of the best in the state.

The boys game will have a long list of big-time players, including Terrell County's inspirational point guard Terel Hall, who runs the floor and handles the ball as well as anyone in Georgia and burned teams all year with lightning passes.

Porter, who once coached Hall during his time with the AAU Georgia Blazers but hasn't seen him play this season, says he can't wait to see what Hall will do tonight.

"I'm looking forward to seeing Terel Hall and the kid from Webster County, Dominique Pollard," Porter said. "Those two are exciting."

Hall's teammate Charles Brown, who helped the Greenwave reach the GHSA Class A state title game, will also be on the court tonight. They will be on the same team with Westover sharpshooter Malcolm Sapp and Dougherty's McArthur Gaines, who is worth the price of admission himself. Then there's Bainbridge's Devon Baulkmon, who is so talented and so versatile his own coach can't tell you what position Baulkmon plays.

"He's a 2-3-1,'' said Bainbridge coach Rickey McCullough of Baulkmon earlier this year. "He shoots like a 2, he drives like a 3 and he handles the ball like a 1.''

Porter's all-star game has traditionally drawn big crowds -- and he likes holding the game at Darton -- but he says after watching the re-emergence of prep basketball at the Albany Civic Center this past season, he wouldn't be against moving the game to a bigger venue if need be.

"I see all these rivalry games in Albany getting sold out and the kinds of crowds they draw -- well, this game has all those stars and more, so it's going to keep getting bigger," said Porter, whose game is sponsored by WJIZ 96.3 FM and will have a live DJ calling the action and playing music during the event. "I like the close feel of Darton's gym, but if it keeps getting bigger, I would definitely look at moving the game to the Civic Center."

The boys South All-Stars will be coached by Early County's Randy Isom, while the North All-Stars will be coached by Dougherty's Donald Poole. The girls South All-Stars team will be coached by Pelham's Antonia Tookes, while the North will be coached by Monroe's Cheryl Cheeks.

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4TH ANNUAL DEEP SOUTH ALL-STAR CLASSIC: Boys, girls rosters

Boys

South All-Stars

Rashaun Brackins, Early County

Dominique Brown, Pelham

Derrick Hardwick, Mitchell County

Devon Baulkman, Bainbridge

Ronald Crawford, Bainbridge

Kerry Chrispen, Seminole County

Andras Carr, Calhoun County

Justin Forbes, Thomasville

Tramell Anderson, Thomas County Central

Tim Stringer-Davis, Randolph Clay

Parker Adams, Southwest GA Academy

Dominique Polland, Webster County

Lekelvis Johnson, Webster County

Coach: Randy Isom, Early County

North All-Stars

McArthur Gaines, Dougherty

Tim Washington, Dougherty

Carlos Brown, Monroe

Theodore Hosely, Monroe

Malcom Sapp, Westover

Joseph Harrell, Westover

Terel Hall, Terrell County

Charles Brown, Terrell County

Trey White, Colquitt County

Lakista McCuller, Americus-Sumter

Dee Nether, Worth County

Tanner Stone, Lee County

Gary Holloway, Sherwood Christian

Coach: Donald Poole, Dougherty

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Girls

South All-Stars

D'Ambria Thomas, Pelham

Salina Diamond, Miller County

Bria Harris, Bainbridge

April Thomas, Bainbridge

Georgette Benton, Seminole County

Shay Williams, Early County

Santana Ingram, Calhoun County

Kierra Miley, Webster County

Maya Taylor, Thomasville

Audreka Davis, Thomasville

Miracle Edmonds, Thomasville

Kyania Morris, Thomasville

Coach: Antonia Tookes, Pelham

North All-Stars

Ashley Johnson, Monroe

Jessica Burks, Monroe

Vanshayla Johnson, Monroe

Kiandra Guilford, Dougherty

Jasmine Lavant, Dougherty

Latisha Williams, Westover

Kaylee Dixon, Sherwood Christian

Deandrea Mitchell, Terrell County

Bria Wallace, Colquitt County

Jayme Gilbert, Americus-Sumter

Jessica Clinton, Lee County

Carle Ely, Lee County

Coach: Cheryl Cheeks, Monroe