Casey Constant donned his black and gold Grand Haven jersey for one last time in the nightcap boys matchup, while the Core family dominated the girls game with Jenna Core representing the Lakers for team Stripes, coached by Bill Core alongside friend and Spring Lake girls basketball coach Cavin Mohrhardt.
Bill Core typically paces the sidelines as a boys coach, leading the Lakers’ varsity squad in the winter, but was given the chance to coach his daughter alongside a dear friend for Wednesday festivities. The feeling isn’t foreign to the family, as father and daughter enjoy each other's company as 30-year coach and all-time leading home run hitter for the Laker softball team, but Wednesday’s final moment on the basketball court was meaningful all its own.
“I appreciate Cavin for doing this,” Core said. “When they first asked, they called me and said, ‘I know you’re the boys coach, but would you like a chance to coach your daughter along with Cavin?’ I said ‘Oh my gosh.’ I called him and he said he would do it with me.
“To have him, who basically held Jenna the day she was born, here to see her follow through this last game was pretty special to our family. I’m more fortunate than a lot of dads because I get to coach her in softball, but to have this chance with Cavin was pretty special.”
As for the contest, it was well-won thanks to the quick wits of the Stripes coaching staff, as Core, Core and Mohrhardt cruised to a 63-51 win over team Stars.
“Our comments were let’s go have fun,” Mohrhardt said. “I mean, they all know how to play basketball. Let’s just go out and play basketball. We made up a few play names to shout and feel involved. My Middle Tennessee call was very successful.”
As is always the case in these summer showcases, the game began with smiles and laughter echoing off the tall walls of the Davenport student center gymnasium. As the point totals grew, so did the intensity.
“We said to them it is going to be fun during warmups and the first half, but the competitive juices will start flowing,” Core said. “At halftime, we just stood back. These girls are all leaders on their teams, so it was great to hear them talk strategy as the game got more intense, saying ‘Hey, we got to hedge on these double screens and No. 33 is a shooter and don’t let the Hudsonville girl get hot. It really drove home how special this event is.”
With the game on the line, it was Charlotte’s Carley Scheblo with the ball in her hands, quelling a Stars rally to the buzzer with two trips to the free-throw line in the Stripes final two possessions.
Core finished with three points and a number of key plays including a pair of steals and a healthy helping of assists. The final run on the hardwood was meaningful for the future Flying Dutchmen.
“Since I’m going to Hope to play softball and volleyball, I might not get the chance to play basketball again,” she said. “So, it was nice to put on the uniform and go out and play one more time.
“Doing it with my dad was special. He has always coached me in softball, so having him on the sideline was special and different, but felt the same. It was a special game.”
Constant represents Grand Haven
Graduating Buccaneer point guard Casey Constant is the lone boys representative for the two-day All-Star get together, playing for team Stars in the Wednesday-night matchup.
The Stars lost on a heartbreaker, as they led nearly wire-to-wire, thanks to the keen 4-point shooting from Grand Rapids’ Unions’ Jo ‘Von Hernandez, who made a habit of taking, and nailing, the all-star game novelty shot.
Constant served up a few delicious dishes on his trademark drives to the hoop and hit a 3-pointer down the stretch. But, neither the distance shooting or crafty passing was enough, as team Stripes hit a buzzer-beating 4-pointer to break a tie and win the game.
Despite the tight competition down the stretch, Constant enjoyed his time on the court, opting to hold his own with the star-studded roster rather than showboat through his minutes.
“It felt really good to put on the uniform back on, especially the black one. I feel really good in the black one,” he said. “It was pretty cool getting to play with all the best players in the area. I was just going out there and trying to hold my own. I wanted to play hard on defense and knock down open shots if I got them.”
Destined to play for Alma College next year, Constant had a few cracks at a future teammate and roommate in Jenison’s Nate Deyman.
“It was cool to see him,” Constant said. “I played against him just once last year. We’ve communicated, but this was the first time I’ve seen him in person since we found out we were going to be roommates.
“He’s good, he can really shoot it, so I’m excited to play with him.”
Thursday brings more All-Star action from Davenport University, this time with a healthy helping of Buccaneer pride. Grand Haven girls head coach Katie Kowalczyk-Fulmer will toe the sidelines in command of Team Stripes and three of her outbound players in Alli Keyser, Esther Byington and Kelly Olthof.
The matchup promises to be electric, as the Bucs will line up against two players from Muskegon after they ended the Grand Haven season in the district tournament this year. Aliza Winston and Diynash Dowell will lead Team Stars for the 6 p.m. tip-off.