Daily News area’s best put on a show in Battle of the Valley All-Star basketball game

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CHATSWORTH — A wealth of basketball talent from the San Fernando Valley and beyond made its way to Sierra Canyon High School Saturday night for the Battle of the Valley All-Star game, an event that highlights the best boys and girls high school players in the area.

The game, which was for seniors only, had been on hiatus the last three years due to the pandemic.

The long break made for an eager crowd, evidenced by a packed gym, a live DJ and a chorus of “oohs and aahs” on every flashy dunk.

Sierra Canyon’s Jimmy Oladokun and West Ranch’s Jazz Gardner scored 24 points apiece to lead the West team to a 150-122 win over the East team in a game that had its competitive moments, but was mostly about having fun and entertaining the crowd with big plays.

Members of the East all-star team pose for a photo during the Battle of the Valley All-Star boys basketball game at Sierra Canyon Saturday night.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Members of the West all-star team pose for a photo during the Battle of the Valley All-Star boys basketball game at Sierra Canyon Saturday night.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Brady Dunlap of Harvard-Westlake and Jaqari Miles of West Ranch battle for the ball during the Battle of the Valley All-Star boys basketball game at Sierra Canyon Saturday night.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Sierra Canyon’s Osiris Nalls during the 2023 Battle of the Valley All-Star boys basketball game Saturday night.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Immanuel Taylor of Village Christian competes in the dunk contest during the 2023 Battle of the Valley All-Star boys basketball game Saturday night.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Keyon Kensie of Taft gets by Grant’s Dilly Martin during the Battle of the Valley All-Star boys basketball game at Sierra Canyon Saturday night.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Andrew Meadow of West Ranch during the 2023 Battle of the Valley All-Star boys basketball game Saturday night.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Keyon Kensie of Taft wins the dunk contest during the Battle of the Valley All-Star boys basketball game at Sierra Canyon Saturday night.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Jazz Gardner of West Ranch passes the ball during the 2023 Battle of the Valley All-Star boys basketball game Saturday night.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Oak Park’s Isaiah Sherrad dunks the ball during the 2023 Battle of the Valley All-Star boys basketball game Saturday night.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Keyon Kensie of Taft smiles as he wins the dunk contest during the Battle of the Valley All-Star boys basketball game at Sierra Canyon Saturday night.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Andrew Meadow of West Ranch competes in the dunk contest during the 2023 Battle of the Valley All-Star boys basketball game Saturday night.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Keyon Kensie of Taft was the winner the dunk contest during the Battle of the Valley All-Star boys basketball game at Sierra Canyon Saturday night.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Andrew Meadow of West Ranch dunks the ball during the 2023 Battle of the Valley All-Star boys basketball game Saturday night.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

The 2023 Battle of the Valley All-Star boys basketball game was held at Sierra Canyon Saturday night.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

The 2023 Battle of the Valley All-Star boys basketball game was played at Sierra Canyon Saturday night.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

The 2023 Battle of the Valley All-Star boys basketball game was held at Sierra Canyon Saturday night.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

The 2023 Battle of the Valley All-Star boys basketball game was held at Sierra Canyon Saturday night.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

The 2023 Battle of the Valley All-Star boys basketball game was held at Sierra Canyon Saturday night.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

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“It was a crazy feeling. I really like stuff like this,” said Oladokun, who was honored with a custom No. 23 jersey from the Valley Sports Foundation for winning the MVP award. “It was a really good last high school experience.”

The game had its eye-popping moments, but it was the dunk contest at halftime that got the loudest ovation from the crowd and the players themselves.

Oladokun joined West Ranch’s Andrew Meadow, Village Christian’s Immanuel Taylor and Taft’s Keyon Kensie in the contest, with the latter two competitors putting on a thrilling show.

Taylor, who is listed at 5-foot-10, had a glaring height disadvantage, but that didn’t deter him from unleashing electrifying dunks.

Taylor grabbed the ball from a stationary teammate and slammed through a windmill on his first attempt. His second dunk was a lob to himself that he grabbed in midair for a reverse jam, which had Oladokun grabbing his head in disbelief.

“I just wanted to bring energy and try stuff I’ve never tried. I had never done those dunks before,” Taylor said. “I wanted to make this night exciting. It’s a fun experience playing with all these talented players.”

“I told my trainer that’s the most bounce I’ve ever seen in person. I’ve been hooping with him for a long time, I didn’t even know he could dunk,” Oladokun said. “Apparently he’s been dunking since ninth grade but I’ve never seen it in a game. He brought it out of nowhere. I was hoping he would win it.”

Kensie awed the crowd himself, making all four of his dunks in thunderous fashion, including a between-the-legs, left-handed slam and his take on the free-throw line dunk.

Immanuel Taylor of Village Christian had the crowd buzzing with a couple of his slams pic.twitter.com/VyAOeXYcy5

— Dan Lovi (@LoviSports) March 19, 2023

Taylor wasn’t able to convert his two attempts in the final round, which helped Kensie secure the slam dunk crown.

“I already knew I was going to make them, I was already doing them in warmups,” Kensie said. “I got lucky because (Taylor) had some crazy dunks, but he missed a couple so I got lucky and got the W.”

The bevy of talent on the court made for a fun night, whether it was long-range 3-pointers from Brady Dunlap of Harvard Westlake, Gavin Murphy of Calabasas, Jaqari Miles of West Ranch and Zane Miller of Agoura, or huge in-game dunks by Gardner, Meadow, Kensie and Oak Park’s Isaiah Sherrard.

The Foothill League was well-represented with Saugus’ Max Tengan and Valencia’s Mikah Ballew joining the trio from West Ranch. Along with Oladokun, Osiris Nalls and Ashton Hardaway represented Sierra Canyon.

“It’s been a super long season so it was cool to relax and have fun with my own teammates and teammates from other teams,” Oladokun said. “It felt like a really good way to cap everything off.”

Hudson wins girls game MVP

The girls Valley All-Star game was competitive from the tip, with both teams playing tough defense and trading baskets through the first three quarters.

The West team broke away in the fourth quarter on its way to a 73-65 win, led by Chaminade’s Hunter Hudson.

MVP – Hunter Hudson of Chaminade

She finished with 23 points to lead West to victory in the Battle of the Valley All-Star Game @Tarek_Fattal | @Chaminadesports pic.twitter.com/nYxiLInJZQ

— Dan Lovi (@LoviSports) March 19, 2023

“We saw the other team came two hours early, we saw them prepare plays, so we said let’s beat them, let’s waste their time,” said Hunter, who had a game-high 23 points and won the MVP award.

Brentwood’s Amber Furch won the 3-point contest that took place at halftime, making 14 shots in the first round and 10 in the championship round, defeating Westlake’s Alyssa Jackson who made eight shots in the final round.

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

Team West warming up before the game- Oak Park’s Isaiah Sherrard and West Ranch’s Andrew Meadow getting loose with some dunks pic.twitter.com/0tVUM2c4d3

— Dan Lovi (@LoviSports) March 19, 2023

 

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