By Justin Sokeland
NEW CASTLE – From the collection of Disney princess songs – a personal favorite of Miss Basketball Jorie Allen, according to insider information from All-Star team sources – this was a “whole new world.”
After all the pageantry and glitter following her selection as the owner of the No.1 jersey for the Indiana All-Star series, the scrimmage with their Junior counterparts was the first step toward serious business.
Allen and the seniors let it go, let it all go on a Junior team many suspected could and would push their elders (perhaps even vanquish and thus embarrass them). With Allen playing a key role, the All-Stars crushed the Juniors 97-58 on Wednesday night.
Allen, looking comfortable and worthy of her title, scored 14 points, one of five seniors in double figures, dished out a team-high 5 assists and added 5 rebounds. Central Noble’s Sydney Freeman, a Ball State recruit, scored a game-high 20 points as Indiana sent a message south to the Bluegrass.
Allen, setting a tone of unselfishness, often found Michigan City’s Hannah Noveroske, a 6-foot-5 power in the post and future Indiana University teammate. Noveroske scored 13 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
After three days of practice sessions to “look organized,” Indiana looked polished and dominant. The Juniors, with the core group having already played two scrimmages with Kentucky’s Juniors, were frozen. Indiana’s seniors were beauty and beasts in one complete package.
“It was a lot of fun,” Allen said. “It was a great team win. I thought we shared the ball well.” And Indiana’s 24 assists were proof of that statement.
Allen scored in the usual ways that helped her smash the Bedford North Lawrence career scoring record. She hustled to complete a fast break, muscled her way to a pair of 3-point plays, and hit 6-of-10 shots overall.
“She’s very unselfish,” All-Star coach Debbie Guckenberger said. “She let the game come to her. The team recognizes her leadership. She can play wherever. She’s really versatile.”
“I just tried to take what the defense gave me,” Allen said. “Every time I tried to attack, I saw an open teammate. We don’t care who scores.”
Carissa Garcia (Fort Wayne Concordia) added 17 points and Amaya Hamilton (Hamilton SE) totaled 10 to lead a balanced attack. Considering Indiana was missing four players (including Warren Central star Shaila Beeler, North Harrison standout Lilly Hatton and the Nolan twins from Marquette Catholic), the demolition of the Juniors was especially impressive.
“I thought it would be an uphill battle,” Guckenberger said. “We had our worries.”
Worries? Not after Indiana broke to a 17-8 lead, not after Allen’s fast break reverse gave the Seniors a 10-point cushion in the second quarter, not after her 3-point play helped push her team to a 44-27 lead late in the first half. The second half was a clinic as the Juniors disintegrated into individual pieces rather than a cohesive unit.
“Of course you have to respect you opponent, and I know a lot of those girls personally,” Allen said. “But as a team we were going to play well.”
“We did have the mindset,” Noveroske said. “We knew a lot of people thought they would beat us. We had to say ‘Show us.’”
The IU connection between Allen and Noveroske was obvious. Indiana ran a lot of high-low sets, with Allen feeding and leading her super-sized teammate to the basket with pinpoint passes.
“She made my life really easy out there,” Allen said.
Kendall Boston, who led Northwestern to a Hall of Fame win over BNL on the same New Castle Fieldhouse court, paced the Juniors with 17 points while Sydney Parrish added 14. The Seniors punished in the paint with a 60-26 scoring advantage there.
Indiana will now focus directly on Kentucky in the first of the home-and-home series, which starts Friday night at Bellarmine University in Louisville. Kentucky lost its Wednesday scrimmage against its Junior team 107-83. Kentucky Miss Basketball Savannah Wheeler had 18 points in the loss.
“This game is a tune-up,” Allen said. “We take it very seriously. We’re going to have fun, but we’re here to beat Kentucky. And that’s what we plan on doing Friday and Saturday.”
Indiana will host Kentucky in the second half of the series Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
In the boys scrimmage, the seniors recorded a 127-116 victory. Mr Basketball Tracye Jackson-Davis had 16 points for the All-Stars while Brandon Newman and Amaan Franklin added 15 each. Nigel Pack had 17 for the Juniors.