Former Frisco League rivals join forces in all-star game.
They were high school rivals battling for the Frisco League Conference championship in both girls' basketball and softball in recent seasons.
But last Saturday, Dixon High School's Hunter Yoakum and Crocker High School's Bri Peterson were teammates in an all-star basketball game which signaled a beginning for one of them and an end for the other.
Yoakum and Peterson both competed for the white team in a losing effort against the red squad during Saturday's 19th annual Gerald Pilz & Friends All-Star Games on the campus of College of the Ozarks near Branson.
The Pilz event highlighted standout prep seniors from the 2012-13 school year primarily from the southwest Missouri area, although players from other states and other parts of Missouri were also participating.
Peterson, a 5-11 forward, helped the Crocker girls' basketball squad post a 27-3 overall record and a 7-1 Frisco League mark on its way to the Missouri Class 2 State Tournament Quarterfinals in 2012-13. Peterson averaged 12.8 points, 4.6 rebounds this past season.
Peterson's Lady Lions' lone conference loss was to Yoakum's Dixon Lady Bulldogs.
A three-year all-state selection, Yoakum, a 5-7 guard, averaged 25.2 points, 4.1 steals, hit 40 percent of her three-point attempts and 85 percent of her free throws to help Dixon finish 24-4 overall and 8-0 in the Frisco League.
She was the Frisco League MVP for the season.
And Saturday's all-star event served different purposes for Peterson and Yoakum.
For Yoakum it was a continuation for basketball preparation, as she will play the sport as a member of the Lincoln University women's basketball squad in the 2013-14 school year. Peterson turned the page on basketball Saturday, as she will be playing collegiate softball at Westminster College.
"It's an ending to my basketball career," Peterson said. "Since I will be playing softball at Westminster."
Peterson was a two-time all-stater for the state power Crocker softball squad, playing primarily as the team's shortstop.
As a sophomore she helped the Lady Lions reach the Final Four and finish in third place in the Missouri Class 1 State Tournament. The last two seasons Crocker was clipped by St. Elizabeth (the 2011 state champion) in the district tournament finals, including an 11-inning, 2-0 heartbreaking defeat this past fall.
Rolla's Andrea Zalis was one of Peterson's and Yoakum's teammates on the white team Saturday. Zalis and Peterson were non-conference rivals as Rolla played Crocker all four of their years in a matchup of two of the area's premier softball programs.
Like Peterson, Zalis had to choose between basketball and softball. And like Peterson, Zalis chose to play at Westminster. Unlike Peterson, Zalis selected basketball as her collegiate sport.
Having options in both sports, Peterson and Zalis talked about possibly being teammates at Westminster in both basketball and softball. However, both chose to stick to just one.
"(Westminster women's basketball head coach Tracey) Braden talked to me about playing basketball too," Peterson said. "But softball has always been my first priority."
Peterson is extremely tall to play shortstop in college. But she said she's ready to play wherever Westminster softball head coach Shelli Manson wants to put her.
In Manson's three-year tenure at Westminster, an NAIA program located in Fulton, the Jays have shown steady improvement, finishing with a 14-18 mark in 2012.
"They can put me wherever they need me," Peterson said. "Coach Shelli said I could play infield or outfield.
"I'm probably most comfortable at first base or centerfield."
Peterson is gearing up for college softball, but says she will always have fond memories of her basketball days with the Lady Lions.
"I'm going to miss it a lot," she said. "I think (basketball) taught me to not only be a team player but also a leader. (Crocker girls' basketball head coach Nancy Ward) was amazing."
Yoakum 'Moving On'
Yoakum was also an all-state softball player, at shortstop, as a junior, when she led Dixon to the Missouri Class 2 State Tournament.
However, it's basketball where she made her biggest impact, setting the Lady Bulldogs' career scoring record.
Yoakum will be playing college basketball at the NCAA Division II level near her hometown – in Jefferson City with Lincoln of the rugged Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA).
"This is where it ends," Yoakum said of Saturday's all-star game, where she represented Dixon for the final time. "Everyone is moving on.
"I know all of these girls, or I know of them. And a lot of them are going to play college basketball."
As good a softball player as Yoakum was in high school, she didn't consider being a two-sport collegiate athlete.
"Basketball has always come first for me," she said. "(Playing one sport) is giving me more time at the gym."
Yoakum will be joining a Lincoln Blue Tiger program which has made tremendous improvement over the past two seasons. After a 24-loss disaster three years ago, Lincoln finished 15-13 in 2011-12 and 11-16 this past season.
Saturday's all-star performance was part of her summer basketball preparation.
"I'm shooting every day," Yoakum said. "I'm shooting 100 shots every day. And I'm going (to Jefferson City) a couple days a week to do the workouts they have given me."