Lynn hoop stars dazzle – Grassa, Woumn, Byrd shine in All-Star Game

It’s a feather in the cap of Lynn basketball that the city had three players selected to compete in the New England All-Star Challenge held Sunday at Springfield College.

And Lynn English’s Ryan Woumn and Jarell Byrd and Lynn Classical’s Jasper Grassa showed they belonged in the company of the state’s top players while leading their Massachusetts squad to a 117-105 victory over Connecticut on the James Naismith Court named for the man who founded the game of basketball in Springfield in 1891.

Woumn had two points and led all players with eight assists, including an alley-ooper to Byrd. Grassa, who started in the backcourt with Woumn, finished with eight points and four assists and took second place in the three-point contest held after the game. Byrd drew MVP consideration for a solid 18-point performance that included some crowd-pleasing dunks. Byrd reached the semifinals of the post-game dunk contest.

Grassa was the MVP of the Northeastern Conference this season and will be named a Globe and Herald All-Scholastic. After watching the 6-foot guard break down Division 1-bound players with his superior crossover dribbling skills Sunday, it’s clear that he can be a major contributor to Bentley University basketball next season.

Woumn, an NEC All-Star, Globe All-Scholastic, and Herald Dream Team selection, was comfortable while running the fast-tempo offense and played a totally unselfish game. Woumn and his father, David, will visit Eastern Tennessee State University, a Division 1 program that qualified for the NCAA Tournament. Woumn is also considering Brandeis University.

Byrd electrified the crowd with his sky-walking moves and showed a nice touch at the free throw line. Byrd said after the game that he is leaning toward attending prep schools St. Thomas More or Brewster Academy. Byrd was overlooked for the NEC All-Star team.

Grassa, Woumn, and Byrd were teammates on an undefeated Pickering Junior High School team. Grassa and Woumn played three seasons together at Classical before Byrd reunited with Woumn at English for his senior year.

“It was fun to be out there with the Lynn guys,” said Grassa. “It brought me back to the Pickering days in eighth grade. I played alright [Sunday]. The level of competition is the best around so it was fun to test your skills against these great players.”

Grassa played opposite future Bentley teammate Jacob Moore, a 6-foot-6 senior from Hampden Academy.

Woumn said he’s excited about the opportunity to talk with the Eastern Tennessee State coaches. “They had a tough game last week against Kentucky,” said Woumn. “I want to see how it is on the campus and talk with the coaching staff. It’s my dream to play Division 1. This All-Star game was fun. Playing on the same team with Jasper and Jarell in this game and with kids from throughout Massachusetts was great to do.”

Byrd just missed out on the MVP award to P.J. Douglas of Braintree, who scored 22 points. “I’m happy with the way I played today,” said Byrd. “We all just went out there and had fun. It was just a free-for-all basically and I was able to score when I could. It’s always fun playing basketball with Jasper and Ryan. They’re really good players.

Byrd hopes to complete his brilliant career with an appearance in the Harry Agganis Basketball Classic in July.

The three Lynn players received some nice gifts, including a gym bag and a basketball uniform.

The game was sponsored by BasketBull, a Springfield company that specializes in running amateur basketball tournaments. The name BasketBull comes from the late William “Bull” Martin, who is related to the owners of BasketBull, Mike Martin, Bob Martin, and Colin Tabb. Mr. Martin played basketball at Providence College.

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