Dave Speidel sat in the stands of a packed Columbus Christian gym on Tuesday night and watched Columbus North senior Ali Patberg perform her magic during the first South Central All-Area All-Star Game.
The event, hastily organized in a week to benefit Speidel’s son, Josh, came as a surprise to Patberg, who just got back from last Wednesday’s McDonald’s All-American game in Chicago.
Columbus Christian girls basketball coach Ron Bridgewater, who organized the all-star game, wasn’t sure he could get an appearance from the area’s biggest star.
But Patberg, who admitted she is tired after a state championship high school season and her trip to Chicago, said there was no way she would miss Tuesday’s event to help her classmate and friend.
“I saw her out there, and it was like, ‘Wow,'” said Dave Speidel, who accepted an all-star game jersey for his son, a Columbus North senior who made the boys team by being named The Republic’s Player of the Year. “She is something else.”
Patberg scored 26 points in her Girls Green Team’s 103-96 victory.
“This was for Josh,” Patberg said. “And it seemed like the whole community was here. It was a lot of fun.”
The Green Team got a lot of help from Columbus Christian senior guard Macy Wingham, a former Columbus North player as a freshman and sophomore who, like Patberg, had 26 points.
“Macy is a real player,” Patberg said. “I was happy for her.”
Dave Speidel said that his wife, Lisa, and he continue to be overwhelmed by the support they have received from the community since their son was seriously injured in an auto accident on Feb. 1.
“We see God’s calling in everything,” he said.
All the $2,530 in proceeds from Tuesday’s event go to help pay Josh Speidel’s medical costs. Bridgewater hopes the event continues on a yearly basis with a different cause being picked each year.
“Every little bit helps,” Dave Speidel said. “And it shows the God in everyone. I think an event like this lets us ask ourselves, ‘Am I looking at every opportunity I have to show the love?'”
Like the girls game, the boys contest that followed was an up-and-down the court offensive brawl with players firing shots from every spot on the court. The Gold Team outscored the Green Team 134-113.
In the girls game, Columbus East junior Audrey Wetzel connected more than anyone, hitting a game-high 29 points.
“I loved it,” Wetzel said of the event. “I wish all these players could be on the same high school team with me.
“It was just a lot of fun, and it was good seeing the community come together. We had no practice, but my shooting was on.”
While Wetzel and Patberg are known large-school stars, the game gave small-school players such as Wingham a chance to show they could perform against the best.
Trinity Lutheran freshman Maddie Roark, just a freshman, poured in 21 points for the Gold Team.
“It was a new experience for me, and I was a little nervous,” Roark said. “But I realized I could take them. I was very excited to come to this game.”
Seymour sophomore Kayla Griffin showed her potential with a 23-point game.
Brown County’s Tanner Chapman had seven points for the Gold Team and East junior Gracie Hatton scored six.
The Green Team picked up 14 points from Hauser junior Abby Ashbrook, 12 from Columbus Christian senior Rachel Warren, 11 from North junior Paige Littrell and 10 from North sophomore Imani Guy.
“I expected to have fun and not really do a lot,” Warren said. “But it made me feel good to do well. I am so happy I got to be part of this.”
North senior Kooper Glick led the boys Gold Team with 25 points while East junior Zach Sanders scored 22 and Seymour junior Toriek Miller added 20. Also in double figures were East junior Parker Chitty (15), Edinburgh senior Matt Heagy (14) and Seymour senior Isaiah Thomas (11).
For the Green Team, Hauser senior Rory Thayer scored 26, Hauser junior Zach Johnson had 19, Brown County junior Collin Hoskins added 18, Hauser junior Quindon Shipley netted 14 and East junior Kevin Williams had 12.