All eyes were on Allendale’s Jackson Marcotte Friday at the Tri-State Junior High all-star basketball game played at Wabash Valley College.

It’s not just because Marcotte is easy to spot as a 6-foot-6 eighth-grader, either. There was more than passing interest from spectators to see how the Yellow Jacket record holder would stack up against some of the best junior high talent in the tri-state.

He passed the test with flying colors, by scoring 21 points to lead the Team Black all-stars, though they lost 87-81 to their Team Red counterparts after a girls game that pitted Illinois vs. Indiana teams was won by the Hoosier stars, 81-51.

If there was any pressure, Marcotte didn’t sense it. “I’m used to it,” he said of the close scrutiny. “I have AAU on the weekends. I love the pressure, and love playing in front of people.”

What about next year as a freshman at the Hilltop? “I can’t wait,” Marcotte said. “I’ve got a big summer ahead of me.” He plans to work out with high school and college players to eventually “be ready and win a state championship.”

His coach for the game, Jay Shafer, was impressed with Marcotte’s play.

“I think he’s got all the physical tools. I was pretty impressed with his control of the ball around the basket,” Shafer said.

There are still some things for the youngster to learn, however. “He has an inclination to put the ball on the floor in traffic. When you’re so much bigger and stronger than everyone else, dribbling into a double or triple team isn’t the answer,” Shafer said. “He brings the ball down low where they can get to it.

“But these things are easy to correct with experience. He will improve at a rapid pace (in AAU ball). I coach there and there is no substitute for that. I think he will be a heckuva player.”

Four players from Mt. Carmel Middle School joined Marcotte on Team Black. Dawson Brown finished with seven points, Blake Golden had six points along with Evan Kieffer and Brayden Stipp, both with four.

Cole Schafer of Marion scored 14 points for Team Black.

Team Red, coached by Mt. Carmel assistant Matt McCarty, was led by three players from a Centralia team which finished second in the SIJHSAA Class L state tournament: Jordan Maines (18 points), JaVon Williams (17) and Johnathon Keeler (9). Conner Zuber of Olney St. Joe and Nashville’s Jake
Haley both scored 11 for the reds.

In the girls game, Team Red, with two players from MCMS and two from St. Mary’s, was overmatched inside by a much taller Team Black squad packed with talent from the successful Castle, Ind. program, directed by Castle coach Michael Owen. Team Black, which won 81-51, was all-Indiana except for one player, Nashville’s Karly Stanowski, who was added from the Illinois roster to balance out the sides.

“It was a good time,” said St. Mary’s coach Mark Zimmerman, who directed the reds. “You could tell towards the end of the game both teams felt better with each other and started making better passes.”

Morgan York, who played for Zimmerman at St.Mary’s, came out quickly, scoring her team’s first four points. “I was really nervous but it turned into a really good game,” said York, who finished with six points.

Lady Rockets teammate Paige Hocking did not score.

Kylie Applebey, from the SIJHSAA Class L state runnerup MCMS squad, seemed to fare better as the game developed, finishing with nine points and a solid inside game. “At first I was nervous, but then in the second half I started playing better and scoring,” Applebey said.

Haley Maguire of MCMS did not score for the reds.

Leading the balanced Team Red scoring attack was Matty Hawkins of Harrisburg, with 10 points.

Chloe Pate of Castle North paced Team Black with 13 points. Castle teammates Julia Pate and Alexia Voyles had 12 each.

Junior Lady Aces assistant coach Ron Patton assisted Zimmerman with Team Red.