Standing 5 feet 10 and a few extra inches thanks to the frosted tips highlighting his curly high-top, Friendship Collegiate guard Alani Moore was the shortest player participating in the 43rd annual Capital Classic.
With a full-court heave to the rim as the backboard flashed red for the last time Thursday night, Moore might have drawn the biggest response from the crowd filling the bleachers at Catholic University’s Dufour Center in Northeast Washington.
The nationally-sourced U.S. All-Stars beat Moore and the Capital All-Stars, 118-116, but only after Moore’s half court shot clanged off the front of the rim as the buzzer sounded.
“I thought it was going in. I’m due for a game-winner,” Moore said after scoring 15 points with a team-high six assists. “I was shocked.”
Against a national team featuring recruits headed to Arizona, Virginia, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Georgetown, Moore managed to get a rise out of the audience with his outside shot.
The Capital squad started cold in the opening minute of the game but claimed two early leads on three pointers from Moore. But no lead was secure for long despite 14 first-half points from National Christian swingman Christian Matthews, a Georgia Tech commit who finished with 17 points and tied for the team lead with All-Met Player of the Year and future Maryland point guard Anthony Cowan Jr.
“Everyone on this team is used to being a star on their team, so everybody had to just buy in tonight one more time as a high school player,” Matthews said. “We tried to do it, we fought back, but that’s part of the game.”
Led by high-flying Rawle Alkins, a 6-4 Arizona pledge from Word of God High in Raleigh by way of New York, the U.S. All-Stars put their talent on display with authoritative dunks and easy transition points. Alkins won the inaugural Grant Hill Capital Classic MVP Award with 23 points and 11 rebounds, finishing one alley-oop so hard his toes swung above his head as he swung from the rim.
“I have to put on a show,” Alkins said. “I didn’t get invited to the McDonald’s game. I didn’t get invited to the Jordan Brand. This is my first opportunity to showcase my talents before college.”
Moore, a Temple recruit, gave the Capital team one last lead by swishing a three-pointer in the last three minutes, but Notre Dame-bound TJ Gibbs (20 points) answered with a three on the next possession.
In the first event of the night, the Suburban All-Stars mounted a late comeback to snatch a 78-74 victory from the District All-Stars after trailing by 20 points in the first half. Douglass big man Cameron Hayes led the Suburban team with 17 points.
Lake Braddock forward James Butler (Navy) tied the game at the free throw line with 1 minute 18 seconds left before Stonewall Jackson guard Keaton Simmons grabbed the lead for the Suburban squad with a daring reverse lay-up he flipped over his right shoulder with his back turned to the basket. Simmons, who is committed to Miami Dade College, said he was looking to pass but decided to drive into contact with his defender anchoring in the post.
“I just felt like I had something to prove, a chip on my shoulder,” he said. “It was kind of risky, but sometimes you have to take risks.”