Boys Basketball: West squad gives Gordie Kerkman a victoryWest Coach Gordon Kerkman of West Aurora talks to his players during a timeout. Patrick Gleason ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 28, 2012 11:08PM
During his 36 years as a high school basketball head coach Gordie Kerkman has nearly done it all.
The West Aurora coach has been on the sidelines for more than 1,000 games, advanced to five Illinois Final Fours and won a state championship in 2000.
But until Wednesday, Kerkman had never coached on high school basketball’s biggest national stage: the McDonald’s All-American Game.
Kerkman’s McDonald’s debut was a success, as the West held off an East rally to win 106-102 at the United Center.
In a game that featured no players from the state of Illinois for only the second time in the event’s 35-year history, Kerkman provided the only local flavor. He and his West Aurora assistants, Curtis Shaw and Rick Thompson, spent the week coaching some of the best high school basketball players in the country.
‘‘I’ve been fortunate enough where I’ve had the opportunity to coach an all-star game in the past but never the McDonald’s game,’’ said Kerkman, who was part of the Roundball Classic at the United Center in 2002. ‘‘Everything has been great and the kids have worked extremely hard to get to here. When you deal with players that are this talented, sometimes they can have a big head and be difficult to deal with. But that wasn’t the case with this group. They’ve been a real pleasure to coach.’’
Among the talented players Kerkman worked with was West MVP Shabazz Muhammad, who finished with 21 points and six rebounds. Muhammad, a Las Vegas native, is regarded by many recruiting analysts as the game’s best overall prospect and was one of the five uncommitted players. He will decide between Kentucky, Duke and UCLA sometime in April.
‘‘It means a lot for me to be named the MVP with all of these talented players here,’’ Muhammad said. ‘‘Winning MVP is great, but our team played really well, too.’’
The West led all but 12 seconds of the game, jumping out to a 58-46 halftime lead. The East cut a double-digit deficit to four with 26 seconds left to play before falling short.
‘‘When you play a game like this it’s not much different than college or pros; it’s a game of runs,’’ Kerkman said. ‘‘We had a run early in the second half and that really helped us take control.’’
The East was led by Kentucky commit Alex Poythress, who finished with 19 points.
Duke commit Rasheed Sulaimon (18 points), Kentucky commit Archie Goodwin (14 points), Texas commit Cameron Ridley (12 points), and Baylor commit Isaiah Austin (10 points) also finished in double figures for the West.
UCLA commit Kyle Anderson added 13 points for the East while two of the three North Carolina State commits on the East team, Rodney Purvis (15 points) and T.J. Warren (10 points) also scored in double figures. East forward Tony Parker (uncommitted) also tallied 10 points.