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Charity Iromuanya

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A few stories about her from her hometown paper:


Local hoopsters prepare for all-star game-Lincoln Journal Star



It is a rare occasion when you can call traveling on Charity Iromuanya. But you got to blow the whistle on her on this one. In the case of tonight’s Nebraska Coaches Association All-Star basketball game, she traveled too much to ignore.


The former Lincoln Northeast hoops star came more than 1,300 miles by plane from Albany, N.Y., to Lincoln this week. She came to play one basketball game.


She’s not alone in her jet lag. Matt Hill, who just graduated from Lincoln Southeast, came more than 800 miles for, yes … a basketball game.


Don’t get it wrong. Both are proud to be here and part of the NCA boys and girls games that will take place at Lincoln North Star High School tonight. The games involve the best recently graduated high school talent in the state.


As Iromuanya said: “It’s great getting to play in front of your family and friends one last time.”


But getting to these summer all-star games could prove increasingly difficult for athletes with collegiate athletic scholarships.


It used to be that athletic scholarships did not go into effect until the fall of an athlete’s freshman year. That has recently changed. Athletes can now use their scholarships the summer before their freshman seasons.


Hill actually started taking a class about youth gangs in America as a scholarship athlete at Texas even before he graduated at Southeast. He went to the first two days of classes in Austin before flying back to Lincoln for his graduation ceremony.


Some years back, a player like Hill might have spent one last summer at home before going off to college.


As it is, Hill has spent his summer playing pickup ball against his future Longhorn teammates and building a Big 12 body in Texas’ imposing weight rooms. At the same time he was earning college credits and learning which streets in Austin take you where.


Iromuanya has been doing much of the same with her teammates at the University of Albany. She’s already taken a class on racism and another on philosophy.


She’s already learned that New Yorkers think Midwesterners have funny accents, or perhaps the lack of accent amuses them. “They make fun of the way I talk,” she said.


Despite the teasing, Iromuanya said the early jump on college life has been beneficial.


“It’s something a lot of people should do,” she said. “It will help you from being completely surprised by everything that’s going on when the fall comes.”


Hill would second that opinion. Not only does he think his body is growing, but perhaps his game, too. A summer playing against Big 12 players will do that to you.


Already part of the Texas regimen, Hill’s new coaches won’t be too hard on him for heading home for a few days. That doesn’t mean he won’t have some “homework” when he comes back.


“They understand that I made a prior obligation to this,” Hill said. “A couple of kids on our team are actually going to be playing in a Texas all-star game on the same day. I’ll just have to make up a workout when I get back.”


In Hill’s eyes, though, it’s all worth it.


“To get one last high school experience with basketball in Nebraska, I’m looking forward to it,” Hill said.


Plus, there’s Mom’s cooking to come back to. That’s worth the airfare in itself.


“Trust me,” he said. “That’s something I’m really looking forward to.”



Lincoln players spark teams to all-star game victories

BY RYLY JANE HAMBLETON / Lincoln Journal Star


Charity Iromuanya and Tyler Bullock had some fun in front of their hometown fans one final time.


Iromuanya sparked her team, particularly in overtime, to lift the Reds to an 87-80 victory in the Nebraska Coaches Association all-star game basketball Monday at Lincoln North Star. The Lincoln Northeast graduate scored five of the Reds’ seven points in overtime, had an assist on the other two points and grabbed two defensive rebounds. Iromuanya, who will play at the University of Albany this year, finished with 15 points to lead her team.


Bullock, a North Star graduate, scored six points in the final 2:20 to help the Blues pull away from a one-point advantage to a 98-88 victory.


Fun was Iromuanya’s goal in this game, although she said it wasn’t quite as much fun in the third quarter, when her team trailed by as many as 19 points.


“Dang! Was it 19? We knew it was 14 or 16, but not 19,” she said with a smile. “Coach (Rich Olson, Iromuanya’s high school coach at Northeast) reminded us that we’re all all-stars here and you have to keep going. We just kept smiling and we were loose. Our focus was not necessarily on winning.”


The Blue girls’ team went on a 24-4 run to open the second half. Yvonne Turner of Bellevue East scored 13 of her game-high points 20 in the quarter.


But the Reds went on an 18-5 run in the fourth quarter to close to 78-76 with 3:11 left in the game. Swarming defenses contributed to back-to-back-to-back turnovers by both teams before Kim Faimon of Lawrence-Nelson made a pair of free throws to give the Blues an 80-76 lead.


Amy Gallagher of Neligh-Oakdale made one free throw for the Reds and after Iromuanya stole the ball, she got it to Jasmine Mosley. The South Dakota-bound graduate of Bellevue East drove the baseline, made a spin move and scored as she was fouled with six seconds left. She made the free throw to send the game to overtime.


“Charity couldn’t get it going early but then things fell into place for her,” Olson said. “That’s the story of my last two years at Northeast. She carried me one more time.”


Iromuanya missed all four of her shots from the field in the first half but was 10-for-12 from the line for the game.


Bullock also had his shooting problems, connecting on just 5 of 16 shots from the field. But the University of Denver recruit found his range in time.


“To win my last game on my home court is something I’ve been thinking about since I found out I made the team,” Bullock said. “My teammates told me to just keep shooting. They never lost faith.”


Reds coach Steve Bartek of Lincoln Northeast said several factors had an impact on his team.


“For Matt Hill (Lincoln Southeast), it was just like the regular season, with two or three guys hanging on him all the time,” Bartek said. “Aaron Brandt (Bishop Neumann) had a great game for them, hitting from outside and free throws. And Tyler hit a big three late in the fourth quarter that really broke our back and put it out of reach.”


After the Reds pulled to 88-87 with 2:23 left in the game, Bullock made a free throw and then hit the three-pointer for a 92-87 lead. Rodney Grace (Omaha Central) scored on a putback for the Blues before Bullock added another basket.


“We had a lot of fun,” said Brandt, who led the Blue team with 24 points. “Tyler is a great ballplayer and can do whatever he wants with the ball. He’s smooth and actually, it was a surprise that he wasn’t hitting all game.”

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