LOGANSPORT | A big smile lit up the face of Merrillville's Victoria Gaines on Monday night inside The Berry Bowl. A good, loud summer crowd had filled the high school's gymnasium.
Then, Gaines' hands went together and started applauding when Logansport's Whitney Jennings, the Iowa-bound Indiana Miss Basketball, was announced.
That's what Monday's Indiana All-Star-Junior All-Star game was all about. To prepare the Indiana All-Stars for Friday's game against Kentucky in Lexington and Saturday's game in Indianapolis.
And, of course, Hoosier greatness, like playing this game in Jennings home gym.
“It's amazing how famous she is down here,” Gaines said. “She's done great things in Indiana history.”
“She's a great player,” Michigan City junior Michal Miller said.
History and greatness was in display once the game tipped off. Jennings scored the first basket of the game, but finished with just 11 points. Jennings, who played in The Times Region Roundball Rumble twice, led the state in scoring with an average of 32 points per game.
“That was our game plan,” Gaines said. “We wanted to take away her shots.”
The Indiana Junior All-Stars made history by winning 82-61, the first “upset” of the Indiana All-Stars since 2012. This series began in 1996 and the Seniors lead 30-8.
The 21-point differential is the biggest win by the Juniors ever.
“We wanted to make history,” Gaines said.
The Indiana All-Stars will get a second chance against the Juniors on Wednesday night at Columbus North.
“This is a special group,” Miller said.
The Juniors were quicker, more aggressive and shot better – 31-of-68 from the field and 7-of-18 from beyond the arc. The Seniors were 22-of-60 (36.7 percent).
Gaines, who will play at Michigan State, scored six points and grabbed four rebounds. Miller did not score but had three assists and three steals. Eight juniors scored six points or more.
The Juniors outrebounded the Seniors 46-38.
Sharing the ball in an all-star game is not easy, especially when both region girls are the main focus on their high school teams.
“If you have the open shot you take it,” said Miller, who has been offered by Michigan State, Wisconsin and DePaul. “If not, you pass it to whoever is open.”
Evansville Mater Dei's Maura Muensterman led all scorers with 16, but her and Jennings were the only two Seniors in double-digit scoring. Bedford North Lawrence's Dominique McBryde led the Juniors with 14, high school teammate Jenna Allen added 13 and Lawrence North's Lamina Cooper chipped in 10.
Gaines, a Core 6 Junior, will play in Wednesday's game in Columbus. Miller, a North All-Star, will not.
“This was very exciting and I appreciate the opportunity,” Miller said.
And when asked if she wants her play on Monday to open a door for next year's Indiana All-Star team she smiled and said, “Of course.”