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Locals shine in all-star games

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Photo by Bill Wyckoff. Pittsburgh-bound Dante Taylor of National Christian Academy hangs on the rim after an emphatic dunk.

Photo by Bill Wyckoff. Pittsburgh-bound Dante Taylor of National Christian Academy hangs on the rim after an emphatic dunk.

Published on: Wednesday, April 22, 2009

By Brandy L. Simms

A trio of former county basketball standouts were among the players who shined Saturday in the inaugural Reebok All-American Game at American University’s Bender Arena.

After playing their senior seasons at out-of-state schools, Maurice Creek, Rodney McGruder and Thomas Robinson hoped to return to the area to put on a show for the fans who didn’t get a chance to see them play this season. They didn’t disappoint.

Neither did Dante Taylor, a 6-foot-9, 220-pound forward, who scored a game-high 26 points to lead Team Finish to a 134-131 victory over Team Create.

Taylor, a Pittsburgh recruit from National Christian Academy, shared team MVP honors with McGruder, a Lanham native who has signed to play at Kansas State next season.

Meanwhile, Creek, a Temple Hills native who began his high school career at Oxon Hill, was named an MVP for Team Create after scoring 18 points.

“It means a lot,” said Creek, who shared the award with Ari Stewart who is bound for Wake Forest. “You’re in your hometown and your family and your friends are here and you’ve got the crowd behind you. It feels good.”

Creek, an Indiana recruit, spent this season playing at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va. where he averaged 25.2 points, five rebounds, eight assists and two steals per game.

Creek said he looks forward to playing at the next level and hopes to make an immediate impact as a college freshman at Indiana.

Meanwhile, McGruder spent his final season of high school basketball at Arlington Country Day School in Jacksonville, Fla. after playing his junior season at Archbishop Carroll in the District.

He was glad to come back home and play in front of familiar faces.

“I had a lot of fun playing with some of the best guys in the country,” said McGruder, who finished with 24 points and seven rebounds. “It was exciting to play [with them] and to play in front of my family.”

Robinson, a Kansas recruit who finished with 14 points, was able to team up with a future college rival one last time before heading off to college. The 6-foot-8, 215-pound Robinson played his junior season at Riverdale Baptist before transferring to Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H. for his senior campaign.

Robinson, a District native, was named a fourth team Parade All-American after averaging 18 points, 15 rebounds, three blocks, two steals and three assists per game. He acknowledged that it was the biggest honor he’s received in his career.

“Another accomplishment that I felt like my hard work in high school paid off,” said Robinson.

DeMatha senior Naji Hibbert – like McGruder and Robinson – has also chosen to attend a Big 12 school. The Texas A&M recruit helped lead the Stags to both the WCAC championship and City Title and looks forward to playing on the college hardwood.

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