by Beau Wicker
Logansport’s Whitney Jennings didn’t have the offensive explosion she had the previous night against Kentucky, but the star point guard might have played a better overall floor game.
Jennings had six points, five assists, five steals and zero turnovers in the girls Indiana Junior All-Star team’s 77-57 win over Kentucky Saturday at St. Xavier High School in Louisville.
“She played very, very well,” Logansport coach Jerry Hoover said. “It was a great weekend for her.”
Jennings scored a game-high 23 points in Indiana’s 79-67 win Friday night at Greenfield-Central High School. She added one assist and four steals in that contest.
Hoover said Kentucky adjusted its defense because of Jennings on Saturday.
“They put a big girl on her nose to nose, and she penetrated and passed, penetrated and passed,” he said. “She got a bunch of steals off the press. She really played well.
“They easily won.”
Indiana had five players in double figures Saturday. Ana Owens of Lawrence North and Lauren Whitlatch of Bloomington South each scored 13 points, followed by Evansville Mater Dei’s Maura Muensterman (11 points), Mt. Vernon (Fortville)’s Erica Moore (11 points) and Rushville’s Mackenzie Campbell (10 points).
Friday’s game was played in two 20-minute halves, while Saturday’s game was four eight-minute quarters.
Saturday’s game was close for a quarter, but the Hoosiers used a 24-14 second-quarter surge to claim a 38-26 lead at intermission. Owens and Whitlatch each scored five in the quarter, while Campbell and Jennings chipped in four apiece.
Indiana extended its advantage to 60-40 at the third stop, Sydney Buck of Homestead keying the charge with six points on two 3-pointers in the period.
For the game, Indiana shot 48 percent from the field (27-of-56), including 44 percent from 3-point range (7-of-16), plus 80 percent from the line (16-of-20). Indiana also forced Kentucky into 24 turnovers while committing just 14. Kentucky shot 43 percent from the field (18-fo-41), 45 percent on 3-pointers (5-of-11) and 57 percent on free throws (16-of-28).
The Indiana Junior All-Stars return to action on Monday when they face the Indiana Senior All-Stars in a pair of games at Sullivan High School. The girls begin at 6 p.m., and the boys will follow.
A final set of Junior-Senior All-Star exhibitions will be Wednesday at Tipton High School. The girls again begin at 6 p.m. with the boys to follow.
Jennings said in an interview Friday that the Indiana Seniors will present a different challenge than the Kentucky Juniors did.
“The seniors are really good. They’re very big,” she said. “We don’t match up very well with them. But hey, we’ll go out and play and see what happens.”
Jennings enjoyed her 23-point game Friday during a closer game in which Indiana pulled away about midway through the second half.
“I had a blast out there,” she said. “It was so much fun just playing with everyone. A lot of the girls I knew coming into it, and the last couple days we’ve just gotten to know each other more. It was just so much fun out there playing with them.”
Jennings scored 23 points in about 23 minutes of playing time Friday.
“I think Whitney did a great job,” Indiana coach Michelle Harter of Warsaw said. “She came out, she looked to attack the basket when she had the opportunity. She had her open shots, she looked to take those. And she does such a great job of getting her teammates involved. Defensively we came out with our press and she got a couple quick picks there with her quick hands and looked to take the ball to the basket.”
Kellie Kirkhoff of Roncalli scored 15 of her 17 points in the first half for Indiana. Muensterman scored all eight of her points in the second half. Gross added eight points in the contest as well. Tayler Goodall of Columbus North contributed nine rebounds, five assists and three steals to go along with two points.
Indiana also swept Kentucky in the boys games.
James Blackmon Jr. drilled a huge 3-point shot in overtime Friday night leading Indiana to a 108-102 victory. Blackmon, a 6-2 guard who will play at Marion as a senior, poured in a game-high 27 points and Trevon Bluiett of Park Tudor chipped in 17 points.
Trey Lyles of Indianapolis Tech scored 18 points and Blackmon added 13 points on a perfect shooting performance Saturday, lifting the Indiana to an 86-73 victory.
The Indiana junior girls are now 4-0 and the boys are 3-1 against Kentucky since the series was started last year.