"We practiced every day with the lights lower," said Green Forest basketball standout and West All-Star player Nikki Mullen. "So when we got on the floor for the game the lights were a lot brighter [than we were used to]." That was because games are played under the extremely bright TV lights of Bud Walton.
Eureka Springs' star basketball player Nick Bower was also impressed with his experience. Before play began he said, "It's an honor to be here playing with the best players in the state." He said he wanted to soak up the experience. "I get to play in the limelight here [in Bud Walton Arena.]"
Bower is going to attend the UA at Fayetteville and tryout for the Razorbacks as a walk-on. "I'm going to work my hardest to make it," he said. Mullen is going to attend University of Arkansas at Monticello on a basketball scholarship.
Berryville All-Stars Alexis Rubio and Jose Martinez played on the West soccer teams.
Many times in games such as these, especially in soccer and basketball, many of the players from larger cities, or towns more centrally located. Therefore they have often played against each other or perhaps even on the same summer club teams, so they know each other and are known by the coaches of the All-Stars.
"I did get to be good friends with a girl named Nicole," Rubio said. "And I had some good practices [the week before the game]."
As dominate as the West was over the East in soccer, the East came out decisively on top in basketball.
The West girls soccer team's largest lead was only one, which they scored around about 16 minutes into the game. But they maintained that for most of the game. They kept that lead until about five minutes from the end of the game when the East seemingly came from nowhere and scored a goal. It ended in a tie.
While the girls' game was 2--1 with the win on PKs, the boys game game ended in regulation play with the West also winning by the same score, 2--1.
Both of the West's goals came in the first half, one at 29 minutes and the second at 52 minutes into the match. The East scored one goal but was unable to mount the effort needed to tie the game.
In the girls basketball game the score was tied five times and the lead changed six times during the five-period game. While the West outscored the East 14--8 in the second period, the others were won fairly decisively by the East squad, especially the fifth period where the East outscored the West 21--13.
Mullen got hacked in the face in the first few minutes and sported a finger nail-shaped cut under her left eye. "But I made my free throws," she said proudly. She also drained a three-pointer in the third period, but all to no avail as the East came away with the 75--59 victory.
The West boys won a couple of periods by one point in each. But them coming out on top of this year's All-Star game never seemed likely given the spirited play of the East, who won 84--69.
Bower had three defensive rebounds, went one for three from the field and made a high arching three-pointer from the wing.
Regardless of time played and points scored history has shown that the Arkansas High School Coaches Association All-Star experience will stay with these young athletes for the rest of their lives.