Lonoke’s Keiunna Walker was one of the local highlights of last week’s Arkansas High School Coaches Association All-Star Week.
Walker, who will play for Louisiana Tech next year, led the East squad with 16 points off seven field goals, four rebounds and four assists, but the West took the game at the University of Central Arkansas’s Farris Center, 86-79.
Central Arkansas Christian coach Steve Quattlebaum was an assistant on the East staff.
“I was really familiar with Walker (CAC and Lonoke have competed in the 4A-2 for several years), and she was one of the best players on our squad,” he said. “The first night, probably our only real practice, I thought she was the best player on the floor.”
He said her game performance didn’t surprise him.
“I’d watched her enough,” he said. “I think she’s going to have a great career at Louisiana Tech.”
This year’s All-Star activities were shortened, with the basketball teams checking in Friday before the games Saturday.
“It was a great experience to play against great athletes/basketball players,” Walker said. “I wish we could’ve stayed all week long so we could’ve bonded better with our teammates. (But) overall if I had a decision to do it again, I would. It was a great experience.”
Other locals on the East girls squad included Kylie Warren of Carlisle and Amber Hawkinson of North Little Rock. Daryl Fimple of North Little Rock was another assistant coach.
Hawkinson, who will play for Trinity Valley Junior College, had five points.
“I’ve always thought she was a really good player,” Quattlebaum said. “We’ve played them several times, and I’ve always liked her as a player. I thought she was overlooked by some schools. But she plays hard and is a good teammate.”
Warren, headed to Southern Arkansas University, finished with four points.
“It was an awesome couple of days,” she said. “I got to meet new people and get to play against great competition. Also, the coaches were very welcoming and awesome to play for. I thank whoever made it possible for me to play (in) the All-Star game.”
Quattlebaum had not seen her play for the Lady Bison.
“She did some good things,” he said. “She looked a little nervous in practice and wasn’t as sharp, but in the game she was really aggressive. I thought she looked like a really good player. I think she’ll be a good addition to SAU.”
Quattlebaum, making his second All-Star coaching appearance, said the streamlined week was different from his 2006 experience
“The last time, we practiced three or four days before we played, but I thought it worked well this way, and the game was pretty well played,” he said. “I enjoyed it, had a big time. They worked hard and competed well. I enjoy seeing a lot of coaches and catching up with everybody.”
A member of the AHSCA’s Girls All-Star Committee, he said he expected the executive committee to continue to tweak the experience going forward.
“One of the problems is now kids are leaving in the summer to go off to college,” said Quattlebaum, whose player Christyn Williams had already reported to Connecticut and thus was unable to play. “They want them there in June.”
He said there had been some discussion about playing the all-star games following the various seasons.
“They’ve even talked about playing other states instead of each other,” Quattlebaum said. “It’s a good reward for kids to finish their high school careers. We don’t want to stop it. We’re just trying to figure out what’s best.”