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Brandon Eckles was more than grateful to be selected as one of the 48 best players in the state and compete in the Rhode Island Coaches Association All-Star games last Wednesday at Rhode Island College.
At the same time though the whole thing felt just a little bit off and itâ€™s easy to see why.
Eckles was selected to play in the first game last Wednesday, which pits the best players in Division III and Division II â€“ with the exception of Proutâ€™s Eric Rameika and Westerlyâ€™s Austin Cilley â€“ against each other.
So who was on the six-foot, six-inch forward from East Greenwichâ€™s team?
None other than North Smithfieldâ€™s Cody Lâ€™Heureux, the same player who dropped 31 points on the Avengers in the Division III Championship and was primarily responsible for the end of EGâ€™s season.
Not only was Lâ€™Heureux on Ecklesâ€™ team â€“ the Federico All-Stars â€“ but it was also coached by, you guessed it, North Smithfield head coach T.J. Ciolfi.
â€śI thought it was going to be a little bit different,â€ť Eckles says, â€śplaying with their coach and Cody playing with us but it was fun. Everyone was pretty fun to play with.â€ť
That aside, Eckles admits the whole experience was a positive one for his playing career.
â€śI thought it was just kind of fun,â€ť Eckles says. â€śI play against these guys all year and Iâ€™m friends with Dan [Doyle of Narragansett] through AAU and Jesse [Browne of Barrington] and all those kids. It was kind of pick up style.
â€śâ€¦Itâ€™s appropriate to play in an All-Star game because weâ€™ve all worked so hard all year to play well for respective teams so itâ€™s a good experience.â€ť
The Avenger finished with eight points in the game on limited touches, as Eckles is all
too aware All-Star Games are extremely guard oriented.
â€śItâ€™s a guard game, the big men get no love,â€ť Eckles says. â€śWhat are you going to do?â€ť
In the end Ecklesâ€™ Federico All Stars were outgunned by a pair of Aquidneck Islanders as Rogersâ€™ Quaran Bostic and Middletownâ€™s Justin Bailey combined for 39 points to lead the Farley All Stars to a 108-102 victory.
Juanita Sanchezâ€™s Jeremy Suero led the Federico All-Stars with 20 points, while Scituateâ€™s Evan Cabral finished with 19 points.
The season may be now officially over for Eckles but his career is not.
The Avenger has one more year left to play and next season EG should have a chance to be very good once again next winter.
East will certainly miss the contributions it got from its two seniors â€“ Ryan Gavin and David Hopkins â€“ but with nearly the entire squad coming back from a team that made it to the D-III finals it should be an exciting one for the Avengers.
â€śWe want to win the championship next year,â€ť Eckles says. â€śItâ€™s always a common goal. We really want to come out even better than we were this year.â€ť
And with an All-Star like Eckles on the team, the Avengers should be in the hunt.