Crimson Bears' hoopster Yadao playing in state all-star game

Juneau-Douglas High School senior Tony Yadao can’t seem to hang the sneakers up for the season as accolades keep sending the whippet-fast guard around the country.


Yadao will be competing in the Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches Second Annual Senior All-Star Basketball games tonight at Soldotna High School and Saturday at Anchorage’s Grace Christian High School.

Players, 24 boys and 24 girls, are chosen by coaches throughout the state in recognition for senior, and high school, basketball careers that have been impressive. JDHS’ Lance Ibesate also was selected but is currently into his baseball season and cannot attend.

“It is pretty cool and special that we had two kids from our team selected to represent Juneau,” JDHS coach Robert Casperson said. “It is a great nod to those two because they have worked so hard, since they were in the fourth grade they have been playing and focused.”

The selection truly represents the top players in the state as the process involves all four school-size classifications.

The selection for Yadao comes on the heels of his recent trip with 11 other Alaskan players coached by Dimond’s Jim Young on an Alaskan Exposure swing through some of the 36 colleges in the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges. Yadao received several offers for play as did Crimson Bears’ teammate Alec Calloway.

Yadao also received some attention from the University of Alaska Anchorage during the state basketball tournament and his performance there has resulted in scouts looking forward to his play this weekend.

Calloway has an offer from Edmond’s CC (Wash). Ibesate has had numerous contacts including the College of the Redwoods (Calif.), the same school that gave former JDHS guard Dom Brinson his chance and resulted in a scholarship at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Senior Taylor Swofford also has been contacted by Minnesota’s Oak Hill Christian College.

“He’s a hard worker and has learned a lot,” Casperson said of Swofford. “He has come a long way in his three short years in the game.”

Senior Evan Gross will attend Brown University but is deferring for a year to join his brother in Europe. Jesse Miller will be attending UAA to run cross-country. Ryan Kelly is pursuing baseball colleges and Darien Stanger is looking for soccer action on the pitch.

Joining Yadao on the AABC senior all-star team is Haines’ Tyler Swinton. Swinton, also receiving UAA attention, is coming off an impressive display in the Lion’s Club Gold Medal Basketball Tournament where he nearly led the Haines Merchants to the “B” bracket championship.

“I am really happy for Tony and am glad I can go up and support him,” Casperson, who will be a chaperone said. “It is an old cliché but this really is a feather in his cap. It is something that Juneau, Crimson Bears fans and all basketball fans should be happy for him. And for Lance getting that recognition also. To be recognized as one of the top 24 seniors in the state is pretty nice.”

The boy’s team will also include Dimond’s Colter Lasher and Luke Adams, Bartlett’s Treshawn King-Dunbar and Trenton Anthony; Wasilla’s Braydon Kuiper, Connor Devine and Dylan Ferro; Monroe’s John Michaels and LaDarius Milton; Barrow’s Colin Long and Edward Benson; and Houston’s Scott Kramer and Phillip Pease. Also selected to play are Evan Withrow, Soldotna; Chris Parker, Eagle River; Farimang Touray, Service; Colton Anderson, Nikiski; Jared Straight, Palmer; Bo Reilly, Kenai; Jared Miller, Dillingham; Nathan Hadley, Buckland; and Chance Hunter, Scammon Bay.

The boys will be coached by 4A Coach of the Year Rob Galosich from Dimond, 3A Coach of the Year Chuck Boerger from Grace Christian, Soldotna’s Matt Johnson, and 1A Coach of the Year Wayne Morgan from Aniak.

Southeast also received recognition on the girl’s side with Craig’s Melissa Castle (UAA bound), Yakutat’s Tina Esbenshade, and Haines’ Hannah Wing and Amey Messerschmidt being selected. The girl’s team includes Wasilla’s Alyssa Hutchins and Pherriar Brumbaugh; and Point Hope’s Abbie Koenig and Caroline Long. Also playing are Savanna James, Houston; Jenna Buchanan, Galena; Brianna Kirk, Noatak; Saige Stefanski, Colony; Kandice Carroll, Ft. Yukon; Morgan Wensley, Kenai; Wedney Paleo, East; Cheryl Nidoy, West; Kristin Smeaton, Dillingham; Dessirrea Kenworth, Kotzebue; Caitlin Auble, Valdez; Meg Berry, Seward; Kira Polk, Bethal; Kasara Brandenburg, Palmer; Echo Winfrey, Hutchinson; Sierra Pedersen, Su Valley.

The girls will be coached by 4A Coach of the Year Steve Caciari from West Valley, 3A Coach of the Year Levi Duca from Dillingham, 2A Point Hope State Champion Ramona Rock, and state qualifier Soldotna’s Doug Blossom.

This year’s senior all-star games’ sponsors include: ASRC, Conoco Phillips, Larson’s Chiropractic, National Guard, Kimmel Athletic, Nike Team, YMCA and ASAP Printing. The travel expense for each athlete must be self-provided.


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