“This could be the best year to date,” said Todd Malecki, founder and organizer of the Annual Desert-Valley Basketball All-Star Game, now in its eighth year. “We get fantastic talent every year, great cooperation from coaches and recognition from the media and fans, help and generosity from our sponsors – Sizzler, Paradise Chevrolet, our Award Sponsor Dr. Brown, and of course, Valley News. Coaches are dedicated and kids have done a great job.” Dr. K. Pat Brown was a former basketball star at Elsinore High School and is a strong supporter of sports programs in the area.
Malecki, who also runs Icemen Basketball, a travel program, saw a need for exposure for local talent in the area, hence the idea for a showcase event. “There are also a lot of colleges here tonight.” At his last count, over thirty colleges had committed to attend. “It’s a great opportunity for our area kids.” According to Malecki, the event has included seventeen players who have gone on to Division I play and two who have gone on to the NBA. Numerous others participated in Division II and NAIA level competition. “The girls side has been fantastic as well; I think the girls game is one of the best out there.”
Legendary coach Bill Westphal, from Point Loma University, was in attendance for the girls’ game. He has guided the Lady Sea Lions to eight 20-plus win seasons and eight NAIA national tournament berths. They have qualified for the playoffs every season and reached the Golden State Athletic Conference tournament semifinals or finals ten times and been in eight NAIA national tournaments. “At showcase events like this, it’s kind of fun to see the players out of their high school element where the coach controls what they do,” says Westphal, “It’s nice to showcase what they can do naturally. The level of talent is very good and getting better every year; there’s always a shortage of post players.” Point Loma is transitioning to NCAA Division II.
It’s going to be a fun night,” said Coach Anthony Williams, whose Lakeside team completed play just a week-and-a-half ago in the CIF State Regional Semifinals. He is the coach for the girls Away team. “These senior girls have been working hard the last four years, putting a lot of heart and hard work into it and we just want to have some fun with them tonight. I want to put the girls in a position where they can really show their talents. Hopefully a few of them can get a look and continue to play.”
The girls hustle and work hard,” says coach Dennis Ullum of Roosevelt High, coach for the girls Home team, “They’re exciting to watch. We’re sincerely trying to win, but it is about showcasing the girls and what they can do.”