Chris Sterling scored a game-high 40 points, but it wasn’t enough as NBA veteran Tyrone Wallace led the Bakersfield Elect squad past the Bakersfield Finest 121-120 in the Who You Got? All-Star basketball game Saturday night at West High.
Sterling, the former Bakersfield and Delano High standout who has played professionally in Spain, had 22 points in the first half, scoring on a variety of drives, fade-away jumpers and long-range bombs to keep the Finest close. He then added 13 in the fourth quarter to erase most of Elect’s 15-point lead.
But Wallace, who was signed by the Minnesota Timberwolves last month after two seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers, and his former Bakersfield High teammate Tim Billingsley scored 24 points apiece to help Elect hold on.
"It means a lot just to come home and play with some of the players that I’ve grown up with and played against through the years," said Wallace of the game that was organized to raise funds for the West High Athletic Boosters. "And having the fans that have supported me through the years come out and be able to watch is special."
Trailing 112-97 with 4:47 to play, the Finest went on a 20-7 run, capped by a rebound basket by former West High standout Vincent Harris to trim the Elect lead to 119-117 with 18 seconds to play. Sterling had 10 points during the spurt, including two 3-pointers.
But Billingsley calmly sank two free throws with 16 seconds left, enabling Elect to survive a late 3-pointer by Marcus Hall. Hall, who starred at Bakersfield Christian, had three 3-pointers in the final run and finished with 11 points.
"It’s exciting for the town to come out and support us," Sterling said. "I definitely knew it was going to be competitive. The other team got up on us early, but we locked down on D, and we made it interesting. It was a good game all the way to the end."
The game featured several plays that brought the crowd to its feet, including a few spectacular, high-flying dunks by former South High standout Myree Bowden.
The 37-year-old Bowden, who is just 6-foot-1, got things started early with a two-hand reverse power jam to tie the game at 10-10 in the first quarter, and had another on a breakaway early in the second quarter. He capped the night following the game when he jumped over 6-7 teammate Jordan Burris — a former Stockdale High star — ducked his head under the rim and threw down another dunk to ignite the gym again.
"I’m glad we had a good turnout, and it looks like the guys had fun," said Elbert Watkins, event organizer and West High boys basketball coach. "Seeing some of the old friends or old teammates from high school, a lot of people that came out are in the local basketball community, it was great to see all the guys and all the families coming together.
I wanted to showcase some of the talent that we have. A lot of people know Tyrin (Wallace), but the Tim Billingsley’s the (former Stockdale standout) Tucker (Eenigenburg’s) … Chris Sterling played really well, and Marcus Hall made some shots at the end. So that’s really what I wanted."
Former Garces and Cal State Bakersfield standout Stephon Carter scored 20 points for Team Finest, while teammate Elijah Hill (Frontier/Centennial/Fresno Pacific) added 17.
“It was great," said Burris, who has been playing professionally the last several years. He finished with 13 points, including two fourth-quarter 3-pointers for Team Elect. "I haven’t got to play in front of my family, especially, in years, so it was good to have them all show up. There’s a lot of talent in Bakersfield, so to see all these guys together is a dream. I might see one or two of these guys every now and then, but to get everybody in one place at the same time, I think it was a great showing."