The game — which featured 40 senior boys and girls basketball players — had been held annually in June after the participants had graduated from high school.
“We changed the date from June to May in hopes of getting the players and fans to come out while school was in session,” said Reuben — one of the game’s co-founders. “I just felt it was time for a change.”
The change worked.
An enthusiastic crowd filled the gym to near capacity, looking on as Team Faith, coached by Minneapolis North Coach Crystal Flint, defeated Team Truth — led by DeLaSalle Coach Tanysha Scott — 89-73 in a girls’ game that was full of highlights.
St. Paul Como Park boys’ Coach John Robinson led Team Wisdom past Team Knowledge — coached by Larry McKenzie of Minneapolis North — 126-119 in a boys’ game that had too many dunks to count.
The history dates back to 1994, when Reuben, Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball from Minneapolis North in 1988, became skeptical when St. Paul St. Agnes and Minneapolis Washburn won the Class A and Class AA state titles respectively that year — with predominantly Black lineups — yet were not selected for the all-state game.
Thus the Inner City All-Star Classic was born. A girls’ game was added in 2001 at the urging of late community activist Kwame McDonald.
Each game selected an MVP, crowned a three-point champion, and awarded the player with the top Grade Point Average.
Through it all, Reuben was pleased with how the games turned out. “I’m just glad people came out,” he said. “We need to support our youth.”
Here is a snapshot of this year’s Inner City All-Star Classic:
MVP — Andrayah Adams (St. Paul Como Park) scored 24 points to lead Team Faith.
Three-point Champion — Suzanne Gilrreath (Fridley) of Team Faith
Kwame McDonald Academic Award Winner — Tyrah Spencer (Bloomington Kennedy) of Team Faith
MVP — Xavier Johnson (Hopkins) scored 27 points to lead Team Wisdom.
Three-point Champion — Sam Baker (Benilde St. Margaret’s) of Team Wisdom
Kwame McDonald Academic Award Winner — Sam Jones (DeLaSalle) of Team Knowledge
Mitchell Palmer McDonald welcomes reader responses to email@example.com.