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Six Rivers all-stars return to court
TImes file photo Monticello graduate Ryan Fink drives to the hole during a victory over Southwestern in the first round of the WIAA Division 4 playoffs last season. Order photo
The message to Jacob Edge and his former teammates came across like the title of the Gin Blossoms' second album in 1996: "Congratulations, I'm Sorry."

While Edge, along with fellow recent Monticello grads D.J. McGowan and Ryan Fink, was one of three Ponies selected for Friday's Six Rivers All-Star Challenge, the honor leads them to what's become a house of horrors.

The third annual edition of the East-West showcase takes place at Black Hawk High School, where the Warriors first denied the Ponies a share of the Eastern division title Feb. 7, 59-55. Exactly two weeks later, they escaped the Ponies again in the WIAA Division 4 regional semifinals, 47-46.

"It's gonna be kind of tough to go back there, but I think we're past that," Edge said.

One thing every athlete involved in the gala feels good about all the proceeds going to the UW Children's Hospital, with which the event has been partners for all three years. Admission for adults is $3, while $2 gets students a seat.

The Monticello trio is joined by another outstanding triumvirate in Alex Abraham, Joey Hartwig and Taylor Goodman of Black Hawk. Kyle Thompson and Trent Sullivan of Barneveld, Brandon Meudt and Drew Moen of Pectonica and Juda's Kurtis Mansfield and Greg Lynch round out the East squad.

Edge is a lefty who has evolved from an outside-shooting specialist to an inside-outside matchup nightmare. McGowan is a prototypical point guard while Fink, like Juda's Lynch, is a guard in a forward's body. Meudt, similarly, is an inside-outside threat and one of the East's most athletic players. Moen is a crafty court general who will bury 3s, but also back down an unexpecting guard.

Mansfield is a point guard with size and athleticism and one of the conference's most recognizeable leaders.

Abraham is a versatile guard. Goodman can bang inside with the best, but also knock down triples. Hartwig, coming off the WBCA Division 4 All-Star game last weekend, is the total package with immense athleticism, a tireless motor and exceptional hoops IQ.

The West club, coached by Benton's Jim Blaine, is led by a trio of its own from Highland and boasts a bevy of height. Edge not only is stoked to have 10 all-stars on the floor at a time, but also to have such an intriguing matchup.

"It's gonna be crazy and they're very strong defensively," Edge said. "That should make it an interesting game."

Edge welcomes the opportunity to take orders from Black Hawk and East coach Jerry Mortimer, and Tuesday's practice was surprisingly fluid as foes became friends.

"It's kind of weird to play along with them, but we all get along really well," Edge said. "The entire team is really strong, so it should be a good game ... for us, at least."

The boys have the late game, scheduled for 8 p.m., while the Six Rivers girls tip off at 6:30 p.m.

Pecatonica's Danielle Senf and Ashley Gant will arrive with similar bittersweet feelings to those of the Pony guys. The Lady Warriors of Black Hawk knocked the Lady Vikings out of the WIAA regionals the past two seasons, both times in the regional finals in Darlington.

For the second time in a week, Black Hawk senior Aryn Wellnitz will join forces with Senf. Both took part in the girls portion of the WBCA event last Saturday.

Tina Dammen, Amber Thomas and Brittany Flannery will represent Argyle. Amy Golz is a shoo-in as Albany's all-time leading scorer and Alyssa Bowe of Barneveld and MacKenizie Hilliard of Monticello complete Lady Warriors coach Mike Flanagan's roster.

Senf is a ball hawk who can, at times, score at will, while Gant is the classic floor general. Wellnitz is a ferocious rebounder with silky smooth 18-foot range.

Dammen and Thomas are a formidable backcourt combo, and Flannery plays with grit and without fear. Golz is a quiet killer who scores in every phase of the game, a description that also fits the Lady Ponies' former captain, Hilliard. Five Lady Chieftains will provide some natural chemistry, along with Potosi coach Darby Blakely calling the shots.

Edge and company will watch as much of the girls' contest as they can. Then it's time to join a team that he, as one of nine departing Monticello seniors, is honored to be part of.

"I was very excited, especially when I saw the roster," Edge said. "I knew we'd have one hell of a team."