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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Indiana boys complete sweep against Kentucky

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Sometimes in an all-star game there isn’t enough basketball to go around for the number of premier players involved.

However, Indiana’s DeShaun Thomas and Terone Johnson had no problem sharing the glory as their combined dominance propelled the Indiana Boys All-Stars to an 81-69 victory over the Kentucky Boys All-Stars at Conseco Fieldhouse on June 12 in a game that was not nearly as close as the final score indicated.

Thomas put up a game-high 28 points to go along with 12 rebounds and gave all of the Indiana and Purdue fans in attendance a taste of just what it will be like to face him as he heads to Ohio State this fall. The reigning Mr. Basketball was automatic at the foul line as well, knocking down 15 of his 18 attempts in what can only be viewed as a banner night for this talented young man from Fort Wayne Luers High School. Thomas was certainly not a one-man show as North Central High School’s Johnson put on a show himself, dropping 28 points on his opponents from the Bluegrass State and earning game MVP honors in the process.

Kentucky was led by their own Mr. Basketball, Elisha Justice, who had 20 points.

Notes: Emmerich Manual High School’s Chrishawn Hopkins, who is bound for Butler this fall, displayed his vertical capabilities with an electrifying alley-oop dunk. Oh, yeah, this incredible space walker was also fouled on the play. Erik Fromm of Bloomington South High School, who will join Hopkins this fall at Butler, pulled down a game high 15 rebounds, as Indiana out rebounded Kentucky by a whopping 14 boards. Kentucky shot just 31 percent from the field largely due to a splendid team defensive effort by the home team.

The Indiana Boys’ sweep was their second straight, adding to a most impressive record of five sweeps in the past six years.

The Indiana Girls All-Stars allowed a six-point lead to evaporate in the last minute of regulation and lost in overtime to Kentucky by a score of 94-87. They had won at Kentucky the previous week to salvage a split of the series.

While the aforementioned performances of Thomas and Johnson are indeed impressive, I could not keep my thoughts from drifting back during the boys’ game to the remarkable performance of George McGinnis. All “Big Mac” did was drop 53 points and 31 rebounds on Kentucky in a game played in Louisville in 1969. Those, my friends, are records that will stand forever.

Attendance for game one in Kentucky was a dismal 2,168.

The announced attendance for the game played at Conseco Fieldhouse was 6,001, but there is no way that number is accurate. While that might have been a number representing a total number of tickets distributed, there were far fewer people in attendance. While game director Charlie Hall does a fantastic job of putting the event together, it is obvious that this once coveted series is in serious trouble in terms of attendance and financial viability. In my humble opinion, it is high time the Indiana High School Athletic Association throws some support behind this great series.

The last time I checked, these fine young boys and girls participating are student athletes from their member institutions. The IHSAA is solvent and capable of supporting these young people, so why are they not involved financially?

Danny Bridges, who never came close to making the Indiana All-Star team in his less than distinguished basketball career, but appreciates the rich history of this wonderful series, can be reached at (317) 578-1780 or Bridgeshd@aol.com

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