HIGHLAND | Jenny DeMuth is a bit familiar with the free throw lines at Highland High School.
When she played here in the late 1990s before graduating in 2001, she and younger sister Julie made friends with the janitorial staff so they could enter the gym at night and shoot around, taking hundreds of foul shots a week.
Jenny, who later starred at Indiana, became re-acquainted with the foul line Friday night. Although the reunion was a tad rocky and awkward, as most high school reunions tend to be, she converted from the familiar spot eight times and scored a team-high 20 points to lead the Lady McLegends past a team of high school all-stars 85-61 in a McLegends XII game that was more about charity than a perfect night from the charity stripe.
“It was very surreal,” Jenny DeMuth said. “We had a lot of emotions walking through that door tonight, but Highland welcomed us with open arms, and it was an amazing feeling to play in front of the home crowd again.”
DeMuth, a Miss Basketball runner-up whose jersey hangs retired in the gym, drew fouls on most of her initial runs to the hoop and was 4-for-7 shooting free throws in the first half, 4-for-6 in the second half. She had 14 of her 20 points after halftime.
“They were a little feisty out there,” DeMuth said. “In the first few minutes I hit the ground more than I wanted to all night. The refs wanted us to play, and that’s where I’m comfortable. I just need to work on those free throws.”
With collegiate national champion Cassie Kerns (Valparaiso/Connecticut) and national runner-up Becca Bruszewski (Wheeler/Notre Dame), along with a host of former big-time college players, still in playing shape, the Lady McLegends raced to an early lead and maintained a double-digit advantage for the majority of the contest.
Nevertheless, it was an entertaining look at the near past and distant past in a game that raised money for charity and gave a weather-beaten region a spring event that did not teeter on the whims of the rain.
“I had full confidence in our squad and the competitive nature of the girls,” Lady McLegends reserve and current Highland coach Tracie Mezera said.
“It was awesome. I sat next to people I’ve been watching on TV the last few years. Now it’s time to get their autographs.”
Mezera’s step-back 3-pointer put the Lady McLegends up 23-9 about midway through the first half. The local alumni led 40-27 at halftime.
Mezera scored 11 points, Bloom Trail grad Roslyn Turner had 12 points, and Julie DeMuth, who began her career at Highland but finished at Merrillville and then Ball State, managed four points for the McLegends.
Crete-Monee senior Ashley Henry was at times the only offense for the prep stars, scoring a game-high 21 points and adding nine rebounds. The Eastern Michigan recruit enjoyed the rough-and-tumble post play.
“This was good to prepare me for the first college game I’ll play,” Henry said. “I felt so inspired to be out there with all that talent.”
Chesterton senior Caroline Puntillo isn’t planning a college playing career, so she was happy to grab a nice jersey and play alongside some former rivals and former idols. She also hit four 3-pointers on the way to 18 points.
“I had a great time and a lot of fun, and it was all for a good cause (Ronald McDonald House Charities),” Puntillo said. “I went to Notre Dame’s camp when Becca was a player there, and now I’m playing against her. That brought it all full circle.”