When he was introduced, the crowd of 10,107 filled Cole Field House with boos. When his evening's basketball work was finished, the crowd filled the arena with cheers.
But J.R. Reid's big effort last night wasn't quite enough to offset the overall talent and depth of the U.S. All-Stars, who pulled away in the third period en route to a 127-118 victory over the Capital All-Stars in the 13th annual Capital Classic for high school seniors.
Reid, the much-sought senior from Kempsville High School in Virginia Beach, who decided to take his 6-foot-9, 245-pound frame to North Carolina instead of Maryland, won the crowd over with an assortment of inside moves good for 29 points. That tied the Classic record set by Darrell Griffith (Utah Jazz) in 1976. Reid also had 17 rebounds and was named the Capital All-Stars' most valuable player.
"People say I'm the No. 1 player in the country and expect a lot from me," Reid said. "I've been booed before. Peter Chilcutt a Tuscaloosa, Ala., athlete who sprained his ankle Wednesday and didn't play for the U.S. stars was booed, too."
Mark Tillmon, the 6-2 Gonzaga guard who is The Washington Post All-Met player of the year, announced yesterday he plans to attend Georgetown. Then, he enjoyed a nine-for-10 shooting first half for 18 points -- but missed all six of his field goal attempts and didn't score after intermission. DeMatha's Steve Hood, a Maryland recruit, had 17 points and six rebounds.
The visitors got winning efforts from Arkansas-bound Ron Huery, who had 21 of his 28 points in the second half and was named the U.S. team's MVP; Georgia Tech recruit Brian Oliver (18 points), LSU-bound Fess Irvin (14 points, seven assists) and Kansas signee Mark Randall (13 points, 11 rebounds). They made sure the U.S. stars won this run-and-dunk affair for the eighth time in the 13 meetings.
After 34 minutes (the game consists of 12-minute quarters) of three-point goal attempts (used for first time), twisting layups and dunks, the teams were tied at 82.
The rest of the game belonged to the U.S. team. The Capitals' shots stopped falling, the second shots and loose balls that were rather plentiful in the first half were no longer easy to come by and there was no stopping Huery, Irvin and the rest.
"The big difference was they were getting offensive rebounds and second shots," said Flint Hill's Stu Vetter, who coached the area team. "And you have to play everyone a certain number of minutes. In the end, their overall size hurt us. They had enough big people to keep pounding J.R. He got 29 very difficult points."
U.S. All-Stars Coach Grover Kirkland of Flint, Mich., said the difference was Huery's second half.
"No question Ron made the difference," Kirkland said. "He didn't start but played well in the first half. In the second half, he turned it on."
Huery had 11 points to keep his team even in the third period. Then Tom Greis, a 7-foot-2, 260-pound wall headed for Villanova, put the initial nails in the Capitals' coffin with three consecutive baskets. His third one gave the nationals an 88-84 lead with 1:39 to play in the period.
Oliver delivered the second big blow, scoring three baskets in the final 56 seconds, and the U.S. team had its largest lead, 94-86.
West Virginia-bound Chris Brooks and Oliver led a fast break flurry with which the U.S. stars grabbed a 16-point advantage, 111-95, with 7:05 to play.
But the Capitals had one final run left. Flint Hill's Brian Domalik scored on a three-pointer and Anacostia's Mark Jackson and Crossland's Mike Sumner got back-to-back dunks as the margin narrowed to 113-106, with 3:57 left.
Reid scored 10 points in the final period, six in the final minute. But Huery, with four baskets in the next three minutes, pushed the U.S. team's lead to 11 again, 123-112, and that was it.
"I was able to get on track when we started running," said the 6-6 Huery, of Memphis. "I came with the idea of winning, but I wasn't looking to get a name for myself. I play hard all the time, whether it's a big game or on the sandlot."
While everyone waited for this group of talented players to warm up, Tillmon scored 10 points as the home side shot to an 18-10 lead.
But the U.S. stars got going, and Irvin, Oliver and Huery led a 15-2 spurt that sent them streaking ahead, 25-20.
Tillmon continued to shine in the second period and Reid, showing some good inside moves, helped the Capitals regain the lead, 43-36, with seven minutes to play. But the U.S. team made seven of its next 10 shots and trailed by only 58-56 at the half.
Brooks and Oliver, who leaped over a chair stationed in the lane for his final dunk, tied for first-place honors in the halftime slam-dunk contest.
In the preliminary game, Coolidge's Everett Robinson hit a three-point goal from the corner at the buzzer to give the District All-Stars a 101-100 victory over the Suburban All-Stars.
The District team, which trailed by as many as 18 points in the first half, rallied on the scoring of Robinson (18 points, 13 rebounds) and McKinley's Carlos Thomas (11) to pull even in the final period at 80-80. The teams exchanged baskets until Robinson won it.
Crossland All-Met guard Mike White made five of five three-point tries and scored 17 points to lead the losers.