With his team leading by two and 5.7 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Mike Veith prepared to shoot a pair of free throws that could ice the game.
Veith’s days of playing for the Yorktown basketball team had come to close months ago. But the senior had one more chance to come up big — this time as a member of the Concorde & National All Stars. But before Veith got a chance to shoot, T.C. Williams’ Ryan Yates and West Potomac’s Martez Redfearn, both members of the Liberty & Patriot All Stars, had some words of "encouragement" for opponent for the Yorktown guard.
We told him "if he missed it, we would let him party with us in Alexandria," Yates said of the duo’s attempt to disrupt Veith’s concentration.
Veith missed the first attempt, but knocked down the second, forcing the Liberty & Patriot All Stars to attempt a 3-pointer at the other end. L-P came up empty in the final seconds and the Concorde & National All Stars captured the Northern Region all-star game, 102-99, on April 24 at Wakefield High School.
STANDOUT SENIORS from the Liberty and Patriot districts faced athletes with similar credentials from the Concorde and National districts. Langley’s Travis Hess coached the L-P All Stars and Mount Vernon’s Alfonso Smith coached the C-N All Stars. Prior to the game there was a 3-point shootout and dunk contest.
Veith finished with five points for a team that led by as many as 14. He said he wants to play basketball in college — possibly at Mary Washington or Virginia Wesleyan — but is undecided on where he’ll attend.
"It’s a privilege and an honor to play with the people on the court," Veith said. "I liked it a lot."
Veith wasn’t a starter, but Smith gave him credit for giving the team a boost.
"We tried to start out getting five in, five out, try to have some balance," Smith said of making sure each all start got a chance to play. "We really thought that the second group that we started out with, which is probably not a lot of the household names, those were the ones that really got us into a nice rhythm as they came into the game — Veith, Marcellus Holley from Westfield" and others.
Veith also competed in the 3-point shootout. He knocked down 10 triples in the opening round, but struggled in the second round, where he was eliminated.
"I felt OK in the first [round]," he said. "I didn’t think I made it to the next round. I was just looking around, waiting and then they called my name and I was just not prepared."
Wakefield’s Kireah Mathis was one of five C-N All Stars to score in double figures, finishing with 14 points. Playing on his home floor, Mathis showed he could compete with some of the best in the region.
"He held his own," said Wakefield coach Tony Bentley, the event’s announcer/emcee. He scored "14 points, shot the ball very well, played with a lot of confidence; I was very proud of him. I know he can play like that, a lot of people haven’t seen him play a lot like that."
SMITH KNOWS of Mathis’ capabilities. The 6-foot-4 senior scored a career-high 24 points in a Jan. 29 game against Mount Vernon.
"I followed his numbers pretty closely over the course of the season and his numbers were not nearly what they were against us," Smith said. "He impressed me from what he could do when we played them. His length, he’s able to knock down some 3s, he rebounds well, gets tip-ins. I was definitely impressed with him and happy for him in his home gym for him to play as well as he did."
Mathis said he would like to play basketball at the next level, likely at a junior college.
"It was all-around fun [and] a lot of competition," Mathis said of the game. "I [had] a lot of fans [at the game]. They know what I can do."
Bentley said hosting the event, which draws a modest crowd, at schools with smaller gyms makes for a better atmosphere. He also said the event can get athletes noticed by colleges and make younger players work hard in anticipation of participation.
"Those [seniors]," Bentley said, "will go back to school and tell the juniors that, ‘You’ve got to work hard to play in the all-star game next year. I had a lot of fun.’"
Hayfield senior and Concorde & National All Sar Reggie Tate was named the game’s most valuable player. He finished with a team-high 18 points. Yates scored a game-high 24.
Centreville’s Warren Denny won the 3-point shootout and Oakton’s David Larsen won the dunk competition.