Two all-stars return to court

By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal

BOONEVILLE – Dee Gates began his basketball career for the second time Saturday at the Northeast Mississippi Basketball Coaches Association All-Star Game.
Gates started at point guard for the Class 1A/2A West all-stars in a 73-52 loss against the East team at Northeast CC’s Bonner Arnold Coliseum. It was the first time on the floor for the Baldwyn grad since a torn ACL and surgery ended his season in December.
Gates came out of the gate driving, hitting the game’s first free throws.
“It felt good. I’m a little winded,” Gates said, then smiled. “I’m not all the way back yet, about 85 percent.”
Gates has signed with Itawamba CC. He scored seven points and had a pair of assists in 22 minutes. Ashland’s Garius Scruggs had 11 points for the West for retiring Okolona coach Bobby Ford.
Gates wasn’t the only player making his return. Myrtle’s Ben Paist played for the East, his first time in a full game since a train hit his car and derailed his game on Jan. 22.
Defying doctors
The accident broke his sixth vertebrae and wrapped his spinal cord around it, broke his jaw and shattered his chin. Paist said he was half an inch from being paralyzed from the neck down. He is still at risk of paralysis if he takes blunt force trauma.
“Doctors told me I would never be able to play basketball again,” Paist said. “By the grace of God, I’m here.”
Paist had two points and a rebound in the win. Myrtle teammate and best friend Robert Montgomery was one of five players in double figures with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Ingomar’s Devonte Williamson had 12 points and 11 rebounds in the win.
East 66, West 27:Tenesha Woods (Potts Camp) scored 23 points and New Site’s Christy Clark, a Blue Mountain signee, had 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists for the East. Antonique Jennings (Calhoun City) scored nine in the loss.
(G) Class 3/4/5/6A
East 33, West 30:
Alexus Malone (Oxford) scored 15 for the East. New Albany’s Jazmine Spears, a Mississippi State signee, scored 10 for the West.
East 77, West 63: Austin Timms (Mooreville) led five East all-stars in double figures with 21 points on 10-of-13 from the field for out-going Aberdeen coach Roy Hazzle.
The win completed the East’s sweep of the event. Lafayette’s Brandon Mack led the West with 19 on 8-of-10 shooting.
brandon.speck@journalinc.com