COLUMBIA -- For Dan Hulst, it was an opportunity to play a final basketball game in his Central Catholic High uniform -- and likely his final game in any school's uniform.
"I've been accepted to Colorado-Boulder and San Diego State, and I think I'm heading to San Diego to major in business administration," the 6-foot-5 Hulst said. "I've had a great time playing ball the last four years, but now my focus will be on school."
For Kent Foster, though, the Mother Lode in the Madness All-Star Extravaganza was a transition. The Patterson guard believes he has plenty more games to play.
"I love this game, but I've got to get stronger before I get to college," said the 6-foot Foster, who noted he might be at Cal State Stanislaus in the fall. "That's a different level. I need to get busy on the weights and run more. I need to get better at everything."
Foster was the elite player on the floor Saturday, with 17 points and six assists, but it was Hulst and his Dark team that used a hot-shooting first half for a 96-78 victory over Foster's Light team in the small-school game.
Livingston's Gurpreet Sangha (18 points, four 3-pointers) and Modesto Christian's Alden Wampler (16 points, three treys) led the Dark, which took a 53-43 halftime lead and never gave it up.
"There's no pressure in a game like this, so you can have some fun out there," Foster said. "It gets serious now, though. I weigh 160 and I need to get bigger, because it's going to be more physical next year."
Hulst used the last two minutes of the first half to answer the question of which Central Catholic post player is more talented -- at least on this night -- as he exploited his quickness to get three baskets against Dusty Killian. The two had led the Raiders to the Western Athletic Conference title two months ago, with the husky Killian underneath and the athletic Hulst working inside and out.
The 6-6 Hulst used that outside game to beat Killian, hitting a 17-footer from the middle and then going right baseline to nail a 14-foot jumper. The next trip down the court, Hulst made Killian chase him to the left baseline -- then hit an arching 14-footer just as Killian was arriving.
"We did a lot of talking out there. When I'd make a shot, I'd wave a finger in front of Dusty," said Hulst, whose 11 points matched Killian's production. "Dusty got back at me inside, though. He gets under the basket and just moves people around.
"We drove up here together, so we'll have plenty to talk about on the way home."
The late run, which included two 3-pointers from Sangha, gave the Dark a 53-43 halftime lead. Sangha and Ripon's Matt Ratto each had three treys in the half, while the inside duo of Hulst (seven) and Ripon Christian's 6-8 Tyler Goslinga (eight) combined for 15 points.
The Light didn't have the size to match Hulst and Goslinga -- and when those two went to the bench, Hilmar's 6-5 Quinton McCown and Summerville's 6-3 Jordan Sooter -- so it tried to speed things up with Foster and Hilmar's Noel Zaldana pushing the ball.
The strategy worked at times, but Foster was often too quick for his teammates. A few of his quick passes inside bounced off teammates' shoulders and hips -- catching them by surprise -- and he had to slow down in the open court or he'd risk playing one-on-three.
"I spent the first few minutes trying to get a feel for the speed of the game," Foster said. "When I saw them lagging back on defense, it was a chance to get some fast breaks."
It was Wampler's turn to take charge in the third quarter, as the Modesto Christian swingman had two 3-pointers and 11 points for the Dark in the first 4 minutes. His first trey was a 21-footer in traffic, but his most spectacular play was a baseline drive that sent him through the key and ended with a no-look flip as he exited the other side of the lane.
He provided a final thrill before taking a seat midway through the quarter, stopping 23 feet from the basket and -- with a pair of hands waving in his face -- hitting a trey from the left side to give the Dark a 66-53 lead.