¡¡¡¡BROWNSBURG? The top girls basketball players in Indiana went toe-to-toe Wednesday night in the annual Indiana All-Stars juniors vs. seniors exhibition. The juniors battled tough early, but the experience of the senior squad, led by Lawrence North standout?and IndyStar Miss Basketball winner Jayla Smith, was too much as the seniors cruised to a 95-69 win at Brownsburg High School.
¡¡¡¡Since losing the inaugural game in 1996, the seniors have dominated the series and with the win improved to 40-10 all-time in the series. In regular years, the two teams play twice but this year they¡¯ll only meet once before the seniors face?Kentucky¡¯s best on Friday at Owensboro, Ky., and on Saturday at Southport Fieldhouse.
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¡¡¡¡Here are?five takeaways from Wednesday night:
¡¡¡¡She didn¡¯t start off fast, but everyone had a feeling it was a matter of time before the best player in the state would take off. Jayla Smith, the?prize of Purdue¡¯s 2021 recruiting class, had a game-high 16 points with five rebounds and six assists. But what made the standout from Lawrence North really shine was her ability to affect the game any way she wanted.
¡¡¡¡Against the best players in the state, Smith at times looked like the best shooter, passer, defender and rebounder on the court. She let the game come to her early on when her shots weren¡¯t falling, and instead played the role of a facilitator. Once her shot did fall, the game opened for her. Smith was?6-for-13 from the field, which is impressive considering the amount of attention she got on the court.?
¡¡¡¡Smith¡¯s skillset is bound to make Boilermakers fans happy for the next four years.
¡¡¡¡¡°I¡¯m looking forward to playing at that type of level at Purdue, and going on to bigger and better things,¡± Smith told IndyStar back in March. ¡°I just want to bring my all and help my team win championships. College is a whole new level of basketball in things that you have to prepare yourself for. I¡¯m really looking forward to bringing some great things to Purdue with my game.¡±
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¡¡¡¡If it was the Jayla Smith Show in the second half, it was certainly an Ally Becki production in the first.
¡¡¡¡Brownsburg¡¯s own lit up on her homecourt like it was a regular-season game. Finishing with 11 points on an efficient 5-of-7 shooting, Becki took a step back while Smith went crazy in the final two quarters. It was Becki¡¯s explosion late in the second quarter, though, that busted the game wide open for the seniors.
¡¡¡¡Up by five with just under four minutes in the second quarter, the seniors looked a little too lackadaisical?against the scrappy juniors. Going into the half with a slim lead could¡¯ve given the juniors a confidence boost heading into the third. Becki put a lid on the excitement.
¡¡¡¡Scoring seven points in the span of a few minutes, Becki showed she could score in transition or with the deep ball. In that span, everyone looked like houseguest in the gym where she averaged 18 points per game for the Bulldogs leading them to last season¡¯s Class 4A state runner-up finish.
¡¡¡¡Becki is headed to Muncie, to play for the ever-passionate Brady Sallee and Ball State. Sallee¡¯s intensity mixed with Becki¡¯s aggressive play?is bound to turn some heads In the Mid-American Conference.
¡¡¡¡The juniors may have been taught a lesson by their elders on Wednesday, but that doesn¡¯t mean they weren¡¯t balling as well. That especially holds true for Carmel¡¯s Kate Clarke.
¡¡¡¡You can¡¯t lead your team to the sectional championship game without having some game, and Clarke wasn¡¯t afraid to show that off. Clarke¡¯s 10 points were a main reason why early on the juniors were still in the game. She showed she could produce in the paint, or even take a few steps back and let it fly from 3-point range (2-for-5). She proved she could be a frontrunner to lead the seniors next season as a legitimate Miss Basketball candidate.
¡¡¡¡And speaking of next season, Clarke, who¡¯s committed to Michigan, is in for a big one. The Greyhounds are bound to be even better with her back on the court. If her offensive game keeps growing at the rate it is, Carmel will be a scary sight in the playoffs.
¡¡¡¡Courtney Blakely?is a walking bucket. You can cut her off left, you can cut off her right, she¡¯s still going to find a way to score.
¡¡¡¡Of all the players who were guarded the toughest on-ball Wednesday night, Blakely?faced the most resistance from the juniors defense. It didn¡¯t matter. She still made multiple tough shots throughout the game.?
¡¡¡¡It¡¯s not like that¡¯s surprising, though. Blakely isn¡¯t just one of the best scorers in Indiana, her numbers can be matched with anyone in the country.
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¡¡¡¡Averaging 31.7 points per game for Hammond Noll last season. Next season, she¡¯ll suit up for Middle Tennessee State,?and getting buckets will most likely be her specialty.
¡¡¡¡¡°It¡¯s a regular day for me to go out and score the buckets I know I can score, and just get every bucket I know I can,¡± Blakely?told IndyStar in January.
¡¡¡¡Late in the third quarter, South Bend Washington junior Mila Reynolds came down the court, looked Jayla Smith in her eyes and unloaded from beyond the arc?with a hand in her face.
¡¡¡¡Smith showed good defense, but Reynolds displayed great shooting when she knocked down the shot. Even Smith had to give her a smile and nod for the tough make when the two headed down the court.
¡¡¡¡Plays like that were common in Wednesday¡¯s game for the future Maryland commit. Reynolds?made plays on both ends of the court, finishing the game with nine points, three steals and one emphatic block.
¡¡¡¡Juniors? 16. 14. 23. 16. ¡ª 69
¡¡¡¡Seniors? 18. 25. 26. 25. ¡ª? 94
¡¡¡¡JUNIORS ¨C Mason-Striverson 3-10 0-0 8, Stoddard 1-7 0-0 2, Clarke 4-9 0-0 10, Carrothers 1-5 0-0 2, Patterson 2-3 4-4 8, Brunson 2-8 1-2 5, Welch 5-11 1-2 11, Smith 1-11 0-0 3, Kincer 0-1 0-2 0, Crockett 2-5 2-2 7, Reynolds 3-10 2-2 0, Thorne 1-3 2-2 4. Totals: 25-83 12-16 69.
¡¡¡¡SENIORS ¨C Smith 6-13 2-2 16, Wiggins 4-14 4-6 12, Becki 5-7 0-0 11, Costner 3-5 0-0 9, Newman 6-9 2-5 14, Burton 3-11 4-6 12, Jaynes 0-3 0-0 0, Blakeley 3-6 0-0 6, Shafford 1-4 2-2 4, Shoup-Hill 2-4 1-2 5, Bischoff 1-4 0-0 2, Thompson 1-2 1-2 3, McKnight 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 35-84 16-25 94.
¡¡¡¡3-point goals: Juniors 7-30 (Mason-Striverson 2, Clarke 2, Smith, Crockett, Reynolds); Seniors 8-25 (Costner 3, Smith 2, Burton 2, Becki). Rebounds: Juniors 50 (Kincer 8), Seniors 60 (Shafford 10); Assits: Juniors 14 (Mason-Striverson 4), Seniors 23 (Smith 6).