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Basketball: McLegends dominate High School All-Stars

Former Purdue teammates current NFL players Kawann Short (foreground) Dennis Kelly McLegends XII Locals vs. Professionals Benefit Game Saturday May

Former Purdue teammates and current NFL players Kawann Short (foreground) and Dennis Kelly at the McLegends XII Locals vs. Professionals Benefit Game, Saturday, May 3rd, 2014 in Highland. | Gary Middendorf/for Sun-Times Media

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Updated: June 5, 2014 5:23PM



HIGHLAND, Ind. — For 2008 East Chicago graduate and Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short, Saturday was a chance to rekindle some old memories.

“I miss playing basketball. To be back on this floor and out there having fun with those guys … it brings back a lot of memories,” he said.

Short teamed up with other local legends as part of the McLegends Charity Basketball Game, which pits those athletes against an all-star team of local high school players.

Dennis Kelly was on the High School All-Stars when he graduated from Marian Catholic in 2008, but the Chicago Heights native and offensive tackle for the Philadelphia Eagles suited up for the McLegends for the second straight year.

“I had quite a bit of family here and they always liked watching me play basketball,” Kelly said. “I got to see a couple of guys that I haven’t talked to in forever and to be able to play basketball with them again was a great time.”

The star of the game was Merrillville coach T.J. Lux, who led the McLegends with 35 points — 29 in the first half — in a 161-124 McLegends victory.

“My expectations were just to compete and play hard in a meaningful basketball game again,” he said. “I’m about six or seven years removed from playing and it’s such a big part of what we do. Any opportunity to play brings it out.”

The All-Stars had their hands full with the entire McLegends lineup, but none more than Michigan City’s Keenan Simmons, who was matched up with the 6-foot-3, 315-pound Short.

“I had to let him know that he wasn’t going to start pushing me around,” Short joked after the game.

Simmons did have his moments blocking a couple of Short’s shots.

“It was pretty tough to guard him; he was really strong,” Simmons said. “I’ll just have to come back stronger so I can get him one day.”

Highland coach and 2004 Valparaiso graduate Jordan Heckard got to cover one of his own players: Trojans senior Tommy Brankin.

“I was thrilled to guard him after coaching him the last few years,” Heckard said. “We were on television and there were people in the crowd watching. We had to bring it.”

There was little doubt in Brankin’s mind who won that matchup.

“Oh, definitely me,” Brankin said with a smile spreading across his face. “He couldn’t guard me.”

Crown Point senior Bret Barclay led the All-stars with 21 points, followed by Lowell’s Zack Van Hook, who had 19.



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