Signee Calli Berna did her part to carry the Arkansas banner in the girls game. So did Rashad "Ky" Madden and Hunter Mickelson in the boys.
Berna's work might have been cleaner than Madden and Mickelson, but she didn't have to put up with officiating as dark as the arena lights like her fellow Arkansas signees.
Fayetteville's Berna scored 18 points in 16 minutes to help the West girls and worked the ball ahead with some nifty passes for layups in the open floor in the highlight portions of a 75-49 victory.
The West hung around longer than most – thanks to the way it beat on Madden and Mickelson. There were also some flops called the wrong way on three charges that frustrated the future Razorbacks.
But they were the key players in a 21-13 final quarter spurt that keyed the 77-70 victory by the East. Madden had the night's best numbers in the boys game, 16 points and 13 rebounds. Mickelson failed to score, but he had 7 blocks and 7 rebounds, most of them as the East turned up the heat at the end.
It wasn't always. The East knocked Madden around at the end, sending him to the line for the clinching points. He shot only six free throws, though. He was knocked down four or five times in the second half before the rotating six refs finally began to blow their whistles.
Madden said he "busted" his nose on a play in the opening period. He turned up the heat at the end under both baskets when the action intensified.
Both Madden and Mickelson had similar thoughts afterwards, noting they didn't have their best performances. They simply called their play "all right."
Mickelson said the final period roughness reminded him of some AAU games when ruggedness is required.
"Rashad has to handle the ball in those situations in AAU because it can get pretty intense and so he was prepared for what happened tonight," Mickelson said. "He'll go get the ball and get it up. He's able to play through that."
The 6-11 Mickelson wasn't so pleased with his 0-for-5 night, but he said teammates praised his play afterward.
"I was down on my offense afterwards, but it makes you feel a little better when you come to the bench and guys tell you that your defense won the game," he said. "You aren't always going to have your offense, but you can still play defense. We did tonight."
Madden opened the game with a 3-pointer, then saluted the crowd on the way back. But he picked up a charge and another foul before having to leave in the final minute of the quarter for trainers to look at his nose in the locker room. That was the signal that things weren't going to be so easy.
"I think a lot of people thought it was going to be a certain way," Mickelson said. "They look at the teams and have ideas. But I think one thing that a lot of people didn't think about was that both teams could play pretty good defense. That's how we had to win it tonight."
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