Pre-game: Frank Burlison just spent $2.50 on an ice cream sandwich after unhappily finding the media hospitality area devoid of food. A voter for the McDonald's All-American Game, he cannot get a decent snack at the event? There will be hell to pay in the Press-Telegram tomorrow...
Pre-game: Bad sign for the West squad - eight girls take the floor, apparently thinking they are in the starting lineup.
20:00 - Jayne Appel is in the starting lineup for the West. She matches up right away with 6'4" East forward/center Tina Charles. Appel is Scout.com's #1 center in the nation, while Charles is Scout's #1 overall player in the 2006 class.
18:58 - Appel takes her first shot of the game, a three-pointer in the corner. The ball was halfway down but rattled around and came back out. That was a good shot that should have gone down.
18:45 - Appel makes her first defensive impact, puts a hand in the face of Tina Charles on the baseline. Charles has to alter her shot and fires an air ball, a good two feet away from touching any rim.
18:30 - Appel touches the ball just outside the paint, and in one fluid motion immediately passes the ball back to the perimeter. As much as Appel will benefit from playing with a bevy of talented guards at Stanford, they will equally benefit from playing with her.
17:56 - Another defensive impact play, Appel shows good instincts (along with her freakish 84-inch wingspan) and reaches for a steal, starting the West on a fast break.
16:13 - Appel scores the first points of the game for the West, and it was beautiful. She catches the ball on the left block, and quickly, smoothly pivots and puts the ball off the glass with her left hand for an easy lay-in. Appel is so good at using her free arm and body to shield her defender from the ball. Because of that, her shots look easy, but she makes them look easy with how she sets herself up in the low post in scoring position against her defender.
15:13 - Though the biggest girl on the West roster, Appel shows how well she can run the floor, beating the East players down the court in transition. She reaches up to haul in a long pass over the East defense, and on the run is able to make the lay-up under the basket. Nice athletic play.
15:05 - After scoring, Appel gets back down the floor in time to make a steal on the baseline, which she almost saves for her team before she steps out of bounds with the ball.
15:05 - Hockey "line change." Appel is out, along with the other starters. Michelle Harrison makes her first appearance in the game.
14:59 - Harrison gets into the stat sheet right away, but does so fouling Porsha Phillips.
14:18 - Harrison uses a nice cross-over dribble to free herself for an open 15-foot jump shot. Great move. But she continues her shooting woes we saw in yesterday's scrimmage on this same court. An air ball is not going to lift her confidence.
13:25 - Another foul for Harrison, though from this view in press row, it looked like a clean block and a poor call.
12:02 - Harrison is not receiving many touches from her teammates, who are looking to make this a one-on-one game when they get the ball. The wing does recover a loose ball on the baseline, however, and immediately takes a 12-foot jumper. She is fouled on the arm and goes to the free throw line, hitting 2-of-2... The officiating is poor thus far in this game. Harrison had her arm slapped right in front of the official, but he waits until a second after the shot falls wide before he blows his whistle.
9:29 - Frank Burlison cannot take it any longer. He drops four bucks on a turkey sandwich. It does not look appetizing.
9:28 - Appel is back into the game. Harrison went out a couple minutes ago.
8:54 - She's human! Appel catches the feed on the baseline behind the plane of the basket, and in turning to make a move toward the hoop stumbles and falls.
7:00 - Ashley Houts takes the ball at the basket and feels the fury of Jayne Appel. With nearly a one-foot height advantage, and the long legs to move across the court in a hurry, Appel spikes the attempted lay-up hard. She is whistled for a foul. Hard to tell from here if she did anything untoward, beyond embarrassing the Georgia-bound guard.
6:16 - Line change. Appel out; Harrison in.
5:20 - Harrison is best known for her offense, but she also obliterated the Utah high school career blocks record. She has felt the shrill end of the whistle in block attempts previously in this game but here gets her first clean/non-foul block of the game.
5:08 - Harrison is rewarded with the ball on the other end and looks to initiate some offense 22 feet from the basket. She cannot beat Joy Cheek off the dribble, and her handle is a little loose. Harrison has to pass away to a teammate.
4:55 - Harrison grabs a loose defensive rebound and forces a jump ball.
2:25 - The West is down 29-33 right now. They are averaging very few passes per possession - not good team basketball. This is typical of the McDonald's All-American Game, though I had higher hopes after watching this squad play pretty good team ball in the scrimmage yesterday. That was their clear advantage over the East, from my vantage.
1:59 - Harrison gets the ball at the three-point line after an offensive rebound, and she has the quick trigger to put up the open three-point attempt. The ball is on line but a little short. Not a good first half statistically for the first ever McDonald's All-American girl from Utah, but it is good to see that she will not shy away from her jump shot despite some early choppy waters.
1:32 - Appel substitutes in for Harrison.
1:14 - Appel alters Epiphanny Price's path to the basket by reaching out as she goes by, which forces an off-balance shot that misses. Appel grabs the defensive rebound.
:30 - Appel grabs a rebound over 6'3" Danielle Wilson as if she were operating against a player four inches shorter than her. Able to handle the ball, Appel starts the fast break and then looks to the outlet pass, which is deflected and intercepted. The East is about to score with an advantage going back the other way, but Appel swipes the ball for a West steal and gives her team another transition opportunity.
Halftime - Here are the official stats for your favorite West squad players. Jayne Appel was 2-of-3 from the field, with her one miss coming on that first shot from three-point range. She is credited with three rebounds, no blocks and two steals along with her four points. Michelle Harrison is 0-of-2 from the field (0-of-1 from deep) but 2-of-2 from the free throw line. She has one (offensive) rebound and one block. Both players have two fouls. Four West players logged double-digit minutes in the first half, but Appel and Harrison had nine and eight, respectively. The damning statistic of the half for the West: 13 turnovers against seven assists. Poor ballhandling, poor decisions, and very little awareness of teammates. Every girl was a scoring superstar at her high school, and few have the desire to try to make the pass and make teammates look better here. This kind of basketball, by the way, is a very good reason why ESPN does not televise this game live. 3-of-14 three-point shooting for the West is also ugly.
20:00 - Harrison starts the second half, while Appel is on the bench. She is defended by Tina Charles; also defends Charles on the other end.
19:13 - Harrison has to defend Charles away from the basket, and she induces a miss from the nation's #1 player, but the ball comes off the rim so hard that it soars over Harrison's head right back to Charles. This second time, the jump shot goes down.
18:39 - Harrison defends Amber Harris in transition and is beaten on the baseline for a lay-in.
18:16 - Undaunted by some struggles, Harrison takes a shot at the top of the arc and nails a three-pointer. Great for her.
18:02 - Harrison makes a nice anticipation and deflection of an in-bounds play, which gives the West a steal and starts them in transition.
17:19 - Harrison keeps shooting, but misses this three-point shot from the corner - short.
16:45 - Harrison receives a pass on a three-man break for the West, but without an open shot dribbles the ball and has to pass. Her handle against this level of competition still looks shaky.
16:10 - Tough spot for Harrison, defending by herself for the West against an East fast break, but she holds her position and forces a missed shot. Very nice. The East is there for an offensive rebound and putback, however.
15:49 - At the first media timeout of the second half, Appel is in; Harrison is out.
15:35 - This is what kills me. A West player sees Appel flash to the basket, and in trying to make a pass (give credit for that rare occurrence) throws the ball right to an East player. Easy lay-in to put the East up 45-43. Terrible passing tonight, folks.
15:02 - Appel gets position on the right low block, uses her free arm to keep her defender off her, then catches with the other hand and makes an easy fluid move to score the basket.
14:36 - Appel runs the floor in transition, takes an outlet pass on the right wing, and makes a great drive to the basket - finishing with the lay-in. She's big-time, folks. What a play for a 6'4" girl.
13:50 - Appel is left open by East's posts, and makes them pay. She stands alone at the free throw line, receives the pass and drains the jumper. That is six straight points in the game for Appel. She is pulling this West squad all by herself and just delivered their biggest lead (53-49) since the opening minutes of the game.
12:42 - The long arms of Appel reach out on Kaili McLaren to force a missed jumpshot. McLaren is a big girl (235 pounds last summer at the USA Basketball YDF), yet she prefers to play away from the basket on offense (drained a pair of three-pointers in the first half).
12:29 - Appel and her long arms beat McLaren for an offensive rebound. Appel dribbles out and passes to start the West for a new offensive possession.
11:31 - Appel leaves the game for a breather, replaced by Abi Olajuwon. Yes, that is the daughter of Hakeem Olajuwon... The West has trailed (though not by much) for most of this game, until Appel's recent lift. Let's see what happens when she sits on the bench... Also, Appel's 10 points are currently game-high tonight.
8:07 - Give the rest of the West some credit, they are leading 64-59...
7:57 - "Line change" - Harrison and Appel are both in the game. They have Dymond Simon, Jordan Murphree and Adrian McGowan on the floor with them. Murphree has been the player whose game I have most fallen in love with this week. I really like the five on the floor right now for the West.
7:50 - Appel has freaky arms like something out of a comic book. She just swatted a Monica Wright shot, coming over after chasing a loose ball rebound. That drew a cascade of "oohs" from the crowd. Big-time play.
6:58 - The East just pulled themselves back in to the game, and a one-point lead, with a pair of three-point bombs. 64-65.
6:33 - Stanford's two signees combine for a pair of misses on the baseline. Appel tried from 10 feet, and Harrison grabbed the backside offensive rebound, but left her follow-up jumper short.
6:09- Appel tried to take McLaren off the dribble, but had the ball deflected and lost it.
5:15 - Appel beats Charles for a rebound, takes the ball up the court, has it deflected for a moment but recovers... and continues to push the break by herself. The 6'4" center takes the ball coast to coast and finishes by getting fouled on the lay-in. No basket, but she makes both free throws. That was really something. Appel's 12 points leads the game.
5:02 - Charles answers back with a little hook shot over Appel. That is how you score against an 84-inch wingspan. Charles' 11th and 12th points now have her tied with Appel for game-high scoring.
3:57 - Final media timeout. 69-69. Could have a good finish to this game, which has improved over what was an unsightly first half. Appel is back on the bench. Will the West finish the game without her?
3:06 - The West just had a steal and basket in transition to move to a 74-69 lead. The East has to call a timeout to regroup.
2:49 - After a short breather, Appel is back into the game, replacing Morghan Medlock.
2:15 - Appel is defending Harris but has to leave her when Jessica Breland has the ball without any defender on the baseline. Appel closes quickly and makes the block.
1:51 - Ashley Houts tries to drive to the basket but finds Appel towering over her and throws the attempted lay-in off the glass. Appel grabs the defensive rebound. West leads by six.
1:07 - Allison Hightower just delivered the dagger, nailing a three-point bucker to put the West up nine points, 79-70. With all that she has done on offense and defense, Jayne Appel should be the MVP unless something major transpires in the final 67 seconds.
:29.1 - Dymond Simon draws loud "oohs" and "aahs" from the crowd with a dazzling display of ballhandling in the waning seconds of the game as the East attempts a steal.
:11.4 - Simon turns the ball over, giving the East an uncontested transition lay-up. Six points in 11 seconds is possible, but the West's 79-73 advantage should hold.
:00 - The West wins, 80-76.
Post-game - Just minutes after the final buzzer, a crowd of photographers swarms around Jayne Appel as she receives the John R. Wooden Most Valuable Player Award with an announced 12 points and seven rebounds. Very well deserved, for her premier proficiency scoring among the game's post players. Her string of six straight points scored in the second half was the game-changing run that lifted the West to victory. Her two blocked shots do not come close to telling the story of her defensive presence, altering numerous more attempts and contributing to the East's 35.4% shooting in the game.
Post-game - The final box score is in, and the West turned the ball over another 14 times in the second half. 27 turnovers against 19 assists is not clean basketball. 27 turnovers against 29 field goals - ugh. Clean it up, girls.
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