ASG brings opportunity, easygoing vibe for seniors

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Rocky Mount High's Victor Ward, left, eyes the basket as Northern Nash's Darquez Flowers defends from behind Sunday during the Eastern North Carolina All-Star Game at Northern Nash High School.


Sports Writer

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Two years in, the foundation for the Eastern North Carolina All-Star Game is set.

Now Tizzo Johnson, one of the event’s organizers who helped spearhead Sunday’s event from its most minute details to its most important, can finally take a vacation.

“It’s worth all the stress, all the effort,” said Johnson, who started preparing for this year’s game from last June to Sunday morning. “I’m happy with the way everything happened tonight. I’m on vacation next week — me and my family, we’re going to get away from basketball for a little bit, but as soon I get back, I’m going to hit the ground running.” 

The end result was a laid-back vibe on Sunday afternoon at Northern Nash High School, where the Eastern North Carolina All-Star Game, rebranded from last year’s Tri-Counties All-Star Game, took place, matching up 40 senior players from nine counties in Eastern N.C.

There was a 3-point contest for both the boys’ and the girls’ teams, a slam dunk contest — which NNHS senior Darquez Flowers won by jumping and dunking over a friend —  and, of course, two games to be played.

The girls’ game was won by Team Parks over Team Cash, 41-39, led by Wilson Hunt coach Tiffany Parks, while Tatiana Smith, a player for Parks at Hunt, won the halftime 3-point contest. Nash Central coach Terri Cash coached the other team.

For the boys’ game, Team Drake, coached by NNHS’s Henry Drake — who knows a thing or two about winning in that gym — prevailed over Team Manning, coached by Rocky Mount Prep’s Jolly Manning, 62-55. The 3-point contest champion was RMHS’s Zataeveun Knight. 

Rocky Mount High’s Mya Pittman, with 16 points, won MVP of the girls’ game; for the boys, both Nash Central’s Chris High and Goldsboro’s Isaiah Wilder were deemed worthy of the award, and had a sudden-death 3-point shootout to determine the winner.

High missed his shot and lost.

Was it a fair way to decide?

“I mean, I wanted to win,” said a smiling High, who requested a shoutout to his two friends in attendance, whom he calls the 2 EZ boys. “I was off-focused, taking a picture, you know what I mean? But it’s all good.”

High finished the game with 17 points.

“It was fun to see everybody out from different parts of the 252,” he said. “I hadn’t played in an All-Star Game so I had to show out.”

As for the 2 EZ boys?

“It’s a group of guys that started balling together since we were in fifth grade, and we’re still close,” High continued. “We call ourselves that because everything we do — it’s too easy.”

Last year, the ASG committee partnered with the Boys & Girls Club of the Tar River Region, raising $2,500 for the organization. This year, they partnered with the Bulldog Alumni Community (BAC) Scholarship Fund, a non-profit founded by Rocky Mount native and Nash Central graduate Kevin Jones, who’s running for mayor of the city in this upcoming election.

Jones was in attendance and gave a speech at halftime.

“He’s all about the community,” Johnson said.

Beyond raising money and providing a lighthearted final chance for area seniors to play with teammates and opponents, the game also provided a final audition for all of the high school players still looking to latch on to a college program.

That aspect was something Mya Pittman, who helped lead her Gryphons to 19 wins and the second round of the 3-A state playoffs this season, didn’t want to take for granted.

After her game, a coach from a local college approached her, saying they liked the way she played. In that regard, the day was a success. 

“I’ve got some looks so far,” Pittman said. “That’s the goal, to play ball in college.”