TIPTON -- The girls Indiana All-Stars again overpowered their Junior counterparts, 95-69, Wednesday night at Tipton High School.
But Logansport’s own Whitney Jennings once again had a stellar performance for the Junior All-Stars. The 5-foot-5 Iowa recruit scored a game-high 20 points in the contest.
“Whitney, she’s just one of those special players,” Juniors coach Michelle Harter of Warsaw said, “who can score off the dribble, she can attack the basket, she can hit the outside shot, but she also gets her teammates involved. She does a good job of finding the open person. Defensively she’s quick. She makes it difficult for the other guards to do what they want to do. She’s just one of those special players that it was a pleasure for me to coach and work with her. I’m excited to see how she does next year and continuing on at Iowa.”
Jennings scored 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field, 4-of-6 shooting from 3-point range and 2-of-4 shooting from the foul line. She added four rebounds, three assists and one steal to go with one turnover in 28 minutes.
The game was actually very close through most of the first half. A Jennings free throw gave the Juniors a 23-22 lead with 7:41 left in the first half.
But the Juniors didn’t score again until a Jennings 3 with 5:15 to go to bring them to within 32-26. They trailed 41-34 at the break.
But the loaded Seniors kept coming at the Juniors in droves and opened the second half with a 19-6 run. Jennings scored on a stop-and-pop jumper in the corner that made it 60-42 with 13:15 left. But by the time the Juniors scored again on a Jennings drive, the Seniors built a 75-42 lead.
The Seniors have six players that are 6-foot or taller, including 6-4 Miss Basketball Stephanie Mavunga and 6-3 McDonald’s National Player of the Year Taya Reimer. Mavunga of Brownsburg finished with 16 and 15 rebounds, and Reimer of Hamilton Southeastern had a team-high 17 points. Sullivan’s Rhagen Smith, a 6-2 Indiana State recruit, added 12 points and Purdue-bound Bridget Perry of Roncalli added 11 points and nine rebounds.
“They’re very good, just very big,” Jennings said. “We don’t match up with them well. It was just another tough, physical game and they came away with a bigger victory than we wanted.”
Xavier-bound Kindell Fincher of Fort Wayne Canterbury had 14 points and six boards for the Juniors. Future Boilermaker Erica Moore of Mount Vernon (Fortville) and future Hoosier Maura Muensterman of Evansville Mater Dei added seven points apiece. Moore added a team-high seven rebounds.
The Seniors outrebounded the Juniors 57-31 for the contest and shot 51.3 percent from the field to the Juniors’ 38.6 percent.
“You have to give credit to these junior kids. They came out and really worked hard,” Harter said. “We tried to do some of the things that the Indiana All-Star head coach asked us to do that Kentucky would do, and the girls came out and adjusted. We put some pressure on them, created turnovers.
“We just came out in the second half and missed some easy shots, and they pounded it in on the inside and built that big lead. But it’s been a tremendous time coaching these girls and watching these girls play. It’s been fun. They came out and battled and played for some pride there at the end. I thought they did a good job.”
Jennings scored 23, 6, 13 and 20 points in her four games for the Junior All-Stars. She averaged a team-best 15.5 ppg.
“It’s been such a great experience. It’s been so much fun getting to know the girls and playing with them,” Jennings said. “I’m really excited about next year. Hopefully a lot of the same girls are back and we can beat Kentucky next year as an All-Star team.”
Beau Wicker is the sports editor of the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.