By Jane White
Falls City graduate Weston Witt went into the Southeast Nebraska All-Star Boys Basketball game just looking to have a little fun.
Witt had a little more than just “fun” on his mind, however, when he took the Southeast Community College-Beatrice Truman Center court Saturday night.
The former Tiger led the East boys squad, scoring 18 points in the first half of a 91-82 victory over the West and put his name in the game’s history book along the way. Witt finished with 24 and was named as the game’s Most Valuable Player on a unanimous vote by coaches and media attending the game.
According to Southeast Athletic Director Dan Johnson, having a unanimous selection for MVP was a first in the 27-year history of the all-star contest.
“It’s never happened before,” Johnson said. “There have always been two or three players at least getting votes.”
The Southeast Nebraska All-Star Basketball games, for both boys and girls, were started in 1988 and have been sponsored and hosted by Southeast Community College-Beatrice since then.
Witt said winning the MVP award wasn’t something he thought about before the game started.
“I played with a great group of guys who made it a lot of fun,” Witt said. “We had pretty good chemistry for only having two practices together.
“But the (MVP award), I definitely did not think would happen.”
Witt attributed his success in the game to being in the “right spot at the right time.”
“I couldn’t have done it without my teammates, but it feels awesome,” Witt said.
East All-Star head coach Chris Hutt of Johnson County Central said Witt played exactly like he expected him to play in the game.
“He’s kind of instant offense,” Hutt said. “I’ve seen him do that all throughout the years. He sees the court very well. He has a good head for the game and a good feel for the game and he’s just a really good basketball player.”
Early in the game, Hutt said Witt “couldn’t miss” when he shot the ball.
“He (Witt) really brought us back into it,” Hutt said. “In the beginning, we got down a little bit, but he was just solid all night.”
Witt led all scorers in the game with 24 points on two three-pointers, seven two-pointers and a four-for-four free-throw performance.
Also scoring for the East team were Sacred Heart graduate Austin Malone with eight points and Fall City graduates Jack Hartman with four and Jordan Stoller with two.
“I came out and hit my first couple shots and that kind of sparked me,” Witt said. “I just did what I could to get the team going and we went on a pretty good run in the second quarter.”
Like Hutt on the bench, Witt’s high school coach Don Hogue, who was watching from the stands, expected no less from his former player than a solid performance.
“Weston played really well tonight,” Hogue said. “He’s been an integral part of us going to the state tournament back-to-back years for the first time at Falls City High School since 1940.
“He’s an overall team player. He can do a lot of things and he can shoot it extremely well like he did tonight.”
Hogue said he had talked to Witt last Wednesday, after the East team had a practice.
“He (Witt) told me how much fun it was going to be (to play),” Hoge said. “You could tell he came out really relaxed and shot the ball well. He really did a lot of good things.”
Hogue said it’s “great” for the Tiger program to have a player win an MVP award in an all-star game.
“We’ve had players in the game in the past, but we’ve never had an MVP,” Hogue said.
Hogue said it was appropriate Witt was the first Tiger to win the award because he was an important part of “turning around” the Falls City program.
Witt being a unanimous selection was also “pretty special,” Hogue said.
While he’s helped the Tigers win ball games the past several years, many of the team’s opponents were represented on the East All-Star team.
Witt said a lot of his all-star teammates and coaches are people he has played against throughout high school.
It felt good, Witt said, to be able to play together, instead of on opposite sides, for once.
“Some of the guys who you thought were enemies before, you get a chance to play with them, and it’s really fun,” Witt said. “It was definitely a lot of fun.”
Hutt said all of the East players are “very competitive” and all wanted to end their high school careers with a win.
“When you’re playing five, the seven on the bench all want to be in there, because they don’t come out for their high schools teams,” Hutt said.
Hutt said in selecting the team, the coaches tried to pick kids with “character.”
“They really showed that tonight,” Hutt said. “They’re very competitive kids and they were a lot of fun to be around. They practiced hard and they played hard.”
The East girls All-Stars fell to the West, 62-54, in action prior to the boys contest.
Sacred Heart graduates Abby Magdanz and Elizabeth Magdanz had nine and five points, respectively for the East squad, while Falls City graduate Baylee Vrtiska had two points.
The West’s Shelby Pollman from Fairbury was the girls game MVP.
In all-star volleyball action Friday night at the Truman Center, the West defeated the East, 25-18, 25-21 and 25-19.
Playing for the East squad in the game were Falls City graduates Maygan Ramsey and Jerrica Beckner and Humboldt Table Rock Steinauer graduate Ashton Nanninga.
East team member Jenna Habegger of Pawnee City earned the game’s MVP award.