GARY | The inaugural North vs. South Gary Elementary School All-Star Boys Basketball Game didn't resemble your typical all-star game.
For one, they were playing defense, often all-out from baseline to baseline.
Even late in the game with the outcome no longer in doubt, teams still were aggressively trapping in the backcourt and hitting the floor for loose ball scrums.
The event, which also included pre-game skills competitions, was held March 23 at Pulaski-Dunbar Academic and Career Academy.
North jumped out to a 6-0 lead before South rallied to go up 18-17 at halftime. North later blew the game open with a 20-0 run to start the second half on way to winning 56-27.
"Our coach just told us to step it up," said Johnell Davis, of Jefferson, who helped lead the second-half surge for North and was named the game's MVP.
North's coach Donald Evans said they decided to "tweak" things a bit for the second half.
"It's an all-star game, so in the first half I wanted to make sure everyone had a chance to play while mixing it up a little," said Evans, who coaches at Williams Elementary School. "In the second half, I put groups of players out there who were familiar with each other, be it playing together on their school teams or AAU teams.
"You can see these guys play well with their normal teammates."
Most of the players were sixth-graders, though both teams had a handful of fifth-graders.
Though his team wasn't victorious, South coach Boris Bowie was pleased with his team's effort as well as for the crowd turnout.
"Next year it's going to be even bigger and better," said Bailly Prep Academy coach Bowie, who came up with the idea for the all-star game and credited Gary school administrators for helping make it happen.