Four years ago, Columbus Christian boys and girls basketball coaches Kevin Roth and Ron Bridgewater came up with the idea of an All-Star game featuring players from The Republic’s All-Area teams.
At the time, former Columbus North star Josh Speidel was in the hospital, fighting for his life after suffering a traumatic brain injury in a car accident. After consulting with Jay Heater, who was The Republic sports editor at the time, the trio thought a benefit game would be a good way to raise funds to help with Speidel’s medical bills.
"We just thought it would be a neat idea to recognize those kids that The Republic had selected as All-Area," Roth said. "I know it would be a little difficult with football and some of the other team sports, but we could do it with basketball. We already knew about Josh, so that was one idea to have a scholarship fund that would benefit Bartholomew County kids."
Each year since then, a All-Area All-Star Game has benefited a local youth who had been through a tough situation. The second year, in 2016, the game was played at Hauser and benefited then-Northside Middle School player Alana Cook, who had a brain tumor removed.
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The past two years, the game has been at Columbus Christian and benefited former Crusader Levi Sallee, who like Speidel, had suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident. The games usually have raise between $800 and $1,000 for the beneficiaries.
Tonight will be the Fifth Annual game and will be at Columbus Christian. This year’s games will benefit Hauser senior Erin Newcomb, who suffered a traumatic brain injury and broken bones in an Aug. 29 traffic accident near her school.
"Like I told (Newcomb’s father) Tom today, we hope we don’t have that situation with student-athletes, but it seems like every year, we’ve had somebody in the community with a hardship since we’ve started doing this," Roth said.
Tonight’s girls game will begin at 6 p.m., followed by the boys at around 7:30 p.m. Twenty-three girls and 18 boys from the nine Republic-area schools plan to participate.
Under IHSAA rules, no more than three underclassmen from the same team may play on the same team in a non-school sanctioned game.
"The ones that play have always thought it’s a nice way to end their careers at the high school level or play with kids from other schools or their own school again," Roth said.
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Rosters for tonight’s All-Area All-Star girls and boys basketball games at Columbus Christian:
1;Koryn Greiwe;Columbus East
2;Whitley Rankin;Columbus East
3;Lily Ernstes;Jennings County
4;Kylee Matern;Jennings County
11;Kayla Jones;Columbus Christian
12;Grace Lorimor;Columbus Christian
22;Tessa Lomax;Columbus North
24;Sierra Norman;Columbus North
1;Alexa McKinley;Columbus North
2;Nadia Lomax;Columbus North
3;Annie Anderson;Columbus North
4;Sydney Jaynes;Trinity Lutheran
5;Madison Owens;South Decatur
10;Lana Bell;South Decatur
11;Claire Cunningham;Columbus East
12;Katie Dougherty;Columbus East
20;Gracie Matlock;Brown County
1;Matt Frost;Columbus East
2;Drew Johnson;Columbus East
3;Tyler Boyer;Columbus East
12;Carson Whitehead;Columbus East
14;Aaron Martin;Jennings County
1;Hunter Johnson;South Decatur
2;Conner Emily;Columbus Christian
3;CJ Reed;Columbus Christian
11;Blake Barker;Columbus North
12;Nick Schiavello;Columbus North
14;Lane Lauderbaugh;South Decatur