COLUMBUS | Kristi Kaniewski knows Victoria Gaines very well. But in the past Kaniewski, the girls basketball coach at Penn, was trying to come up with a way to stop Merrillville's terror in the paint.
Last season Penn edged the Pirates in both the regular season and the Class 4A regional semifinal.
But for the past two weeks Kaniewski has been Gaines' coach for the Indiana Junior All-Stars.
“When you compete against someone you don't really know them because you're both competitors,” Kaniewski said. “But over the last two weeks, coaching her with the All-Stars, I've really got to know her. She's very coachable and fun to be around.
“She's a great young lady.”
Kaniewski spoke of Gaines after her 11th graders lost to the Indiana All-Stars 73-71 on Wednesday night at Columbus North High School.
The Juniors had a 3-pointer and a two miss in the final seconds of the extremely close affair.
“This was a tough one,” said Gaines, who scored five points with four rebounds and two assists. “Our first half was not so good.”
The Indiana All-Stars, who will play the Kentucky All-Stars on Friday night in Lexington, led 33-28 at the half. The Juniors were 8-of-42 from the field in the opening 20 minutes.
Miss Basketball Whitney Jennings of Logansport led the Seniors with a game-high 17 points. Lawrence North's Ana Owens scored 15 and Ben Davis' Danielle Cuttino added 12.
“We didn't rebound like we should've,” said Gaines.
Indianapolis Pike's Brittany Ward led the Juniors with 15 points, while Columbus North's Ali Patberg added 14.
The Juniors finished 3-1 beating Kentucky's Juniors twice last week and the Indiana All-Stars on Monday night in Logansport. It was a thrilling ride for the Michigan State-bound Gaines.
“When I was picked I was really excited but I didn't know what the Core (6) was,” said Gaines, refeering to the Top 6 Juniors in Indiana who played in all four games. “I didn't know what to expect. But this was a lot of fun, playing with these girls.”
Gaines hopes she showed enough to get picked next March for the team that wears the white jerseys with the blue letters.
“That's one of my goals, to make the Indiana All-Stars next year,” she said.
If Kaniewski has any say, things should look good for Gaines.
“Victoria's length, athleticism and versatality is amazing,” Kaniewski said. “When the ball is in her hands she can do a lot of things.”