High School Basketball

Kentucky’s girls take down Indiana in opening game of all-star series

Kentucky girls’ coach on all-star win vs. Indiana: ‘I was really proud of us on the glass’

Hager Easterling discusses the Kentucky girls' team’s 79-74 all-star win against Indiana.
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Hager Easterling discusses the Kentucky girls' team’s 79-74 all-star win against Indiana.

The Kentucky girls’ basketball all-star team successfully defended its home state’s floor at Bellarmine University on Friday, coming away with the 79-74 victory.

“We’re really hype about it,” Bullitt East’s Emmy Ralph said after the game. “I think it’ll carry it over to (Saturday) and it’ll make us really want to push and beat them even more for the second time.”

Male’s Cameron Browning opened the scoring with a three-pointer for Kentucky, which went on an 8-0 run to start the game before Indiana was able to get on the board with a free throw. The Kentucky squad was able to take an 11-7 lead into the first timeout, anchored by another three from Scott County’s Maaliya Owens, who ended the first quarter with six points.

After a layup by Indiana cut the lead to two, Boyd County’s Savannah Wheeler, Kentucky’s Miss Basketball winner, knocked down a three-pointer. Kentucky led 22-17 after one quarter.

Kentucky went ice cold from the field to start the second. Indiana opened the frame on an 8-0 run as Kentucky failed to score for the first 4:52, a streak that was stopped on a layup from Browning. The Hoosiers took a 10-point lead later in the quarter before a three-pointer from Browning.

Indiana extended the lead to 12 points, but Ralph made a layup with less than a second left to make it 40-32 Indiana at halftime.

“Second quarter was a rough quarter for us,” Kentucky Coach Hager Easterling said. “I thought we were getting good shots, we were just missing them. I mean we were getting wide-open shots and we were doing what we wanted to but we were just missing.”

Owens led Kentucky with seven points at the half, followed by Wheeler and Browning, who both had five. Indiana was led by Amaya Hamilton and Emma Nolan, who had seven each.

Kentucky came out swinging in the second half, with free throws from Ryle’s Lauren Schwartz eventually cutting the Indiana lead to one point. Kentucky moved back into the lead on a layup by Owens.

That didn’t last long as a quick run by the Hoosiers, including a Hannah Noveroske layup, put Indiana back in the lead. From there, the teams passed the lead back and forth with Kentucky getting big three-pointers from Wheeler and Male’s Joelle Johnson.

Kentucky led 59-57 after three quarters.

The teams dueled throughout the fourth. Three-pointers by Owens and Wheeler kept Kentucky in the lead with four minutes remaining. Owens, who finished with 18 points, hit a three with a minute left to extend Kentucky’s lead to six.

“Hit some big shots,” Easterling said. “She did. Maaliya can shoot the basketball, obviously. If you watch her shoot, she’s got one of the prettiest jump shots that you’ll ever see.”

Indiana fought back, but free throws from Johnson, Schwartz and Wheeler sealed the win for Kentucky.