The Kentucky-Indiana Senior All-Star series resumes this weekend as the state’s best boys’ and girls’ basketball players take the court with bragging rights on the line for the next year.
Kentucky’s part of the series for the second straight year will be played at Bellarmine University in Louisville, with the girls’ game kicking things off at 6 p.m. Friday. The boys’ game will follow at 8 p.m. The teams will travel to Indianapolis for another doubleheader at Bankers Life Fieldhouse (girls at 5 p.m., boys at 7 p.m.) on Saturday.
Indiana leads the all-time boys’ series, 97-44, and has won 28 of the last 32 games played. Kentucky ended a 17-game, nine-year losing streak to the Hoosiers in June 2017 and has split its last four matchups with them.
Kentucky doesn’t lack for star power — Xavier University signee KyKy Tandy is one of the best scorers to ever suit up in the commonwealth, and Louisville and reigning Sweet Sixteen MVP signee David Johnson can control a basketball game in a litany of ways — but several distinguished seniors who as juniors last year swept Indiana won’t be able to play.
Mr. Basketball winner Dontaie Allen, who’s now taking part in summer activities at the University of Kentucky, won’t be able to play due to continuing recovery from off-season knee surgery and an injury suffered in an April car accident, but plans to be present for All-Star activities. Michael Moreno, a three-time Sweet Sixteen participant at Scott County who signed with Eastern Kentucky, doesn’t expect to be basketball-ready until the fall semester after re-injuring a foot he broke in December. Kyle Rode, who finished his career at Lexington Christian Academy as the city’s all-time boys’ scorer, has enrolled at Liberty University and declined to participate.
Those were some sizable losses — literally, as all three stood 6-foot-6 or taller.
“It really would have been one of the best groups we’ve ever had,” said Scott Chalk, the boys’ head coach at Paul Laurence Dunbar and executive director of the Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches.
The cupboard isn’t bare, though: Western Kentucky signee Jackson Harlan rounds out a trio of future Division I guards, and even with the aforementioned non-participants Kentucky still boasts two prominent big men in WKU signee Isaiah Cozart, a 6-7 Western Kentucky signee who ended his career at Madison Central as Kentucky’s all-time leader in blocked shots, and Dieonte Miles, a 6-8 Xavier signee who in March led Walton-Verona to its first state tournament in 77 years.
Kentucky hasn’t swept Indiana since 1986.
“We thought this could be the year where we sweep ’em, and it still might be,” Chalk said. “But we definitely feel good about the split again this year.”
Indiana’s boys boast three players who are at least 6-foot-9 and will play five guys who are headed to power-five programs: Armaan Franklin (Indiana), Alex Hemenway (Clemson), Trayce Jackson-Davis (Indiana), Brandon Newman (Purdue) and Isaiah Thompson (Purdue).
One of the biggest challengers Kentucky’s juniors had to overcome last year was Dawand Jones, a 6-9 offensive tackle who’s signed with Ohio State that led his team to Indiana’s Class 4A basketball finals this year.
“We really couldn’t do anything with him until he got tired,” Chalk said of Jones’ impact last year. “We kind of wore him out. By late in the game he settled down a bit, but early in the game he was lighting us up. I think he had 20 at half. He’s good.”
King and Co.
Kentucky’s girls will have one fewer player on their roster than Indiana’s — 12 to 13 — and two fewer Division I signees than the Hoosiers, whose entire roster is comprised of such players. Carissa Garcia, a 5-7 guard who finished as Fort Wayne Concordia’s all-time leading scorer, will play at Northern Kentucky University beginning next year.
Maaliya Owens, who’s signed with Tennesee Tech and led Scott County to the last two girls’ Sweet Sixteen tournaments, and Hayley Harrison, a Tennessee-Martin signee who starred for Clark County in the last three Sweet Sixteens, will play for Kentucky’s girls. Also on the roster is Rice signee Lauren Schwartz, who helped Ryle win its first Sweet Sixteen title in March and finished as the school’s all-time leading scorer.
Kentucky-Indiana All-Star Games
Friday at Bellarmine University in Louisville: Girls’ game at 6 p.m., boys’ at 8
Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis: Girls’ game at 5 p.m., boys’ at 7
These were the players chosen to represent the commonwealth in this weekend’s annual Kentucky-Indiana All-Star Games. Some players will not be in action because of injuries or other extenuating circumstances:
Dontaie Allen, Pendleton County (Mr. Basketball); Blake Butler, Jeffersontown; Isaiah Cozart, Madison Central; Jordan Graham, Clark County; Jackson Harlan, Clinton County; David Johnson, Trinity; Reid Jolly, Campbell County; J.J. Kalakon, Waggener; Dieonte Miles, Walton-Verona; Max Reyes, Casey County; Jamarrion Sharp, Hopkinsville; Trevon Smith, Taylor County; KyKy Tandy, University Heights Academy.
Savannah Wheeler, Boyd County (Miss Basketball); Cameron Browning, Male; Ashlee Harris, Sacred Heart; Jada Higgins, Knott County Central; Hayley Harrison, Clark County; Joelle Johnson, Male; Mackenzie Keelin, Owensboro Catholic; Emma King, Lincoln County; Maaliya Owens, Scott County; Emma Ralph, Bullitt East; Lauren Schwartz, Ryle; Kaitlynn Wilks, Lincoln County.