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Kessinger helps IN slam KY All-stars

Bronson Kessinger throws down a one-handed dunk to polish a 113-101 victory for the Indiana Junior All-stars against Kentucky at P.L. Dunbar High School in Lexington, Ky. Saturday. Photo by Brian Smith
June 11, 2014 | 09:26 AM

As time ticked down and a clear path to the basket was for the taking, Bronson Kessinger did what Bronson Kessinger can do: Dunk.

The Corydon Central senior-to-be put the finishing touches on a victory by the Indiana Junior All-Stars over their foes from Kentucky with a one-handed jam. Indiana won the game 113-101 at P.L. Dunbar High School in Lexington, Ky., Saturday night.

"(Teammates) were telling me to dunk before the game was over," Kessinger said. "I figured I might as well do it then. I'm glad I got something in."

Fielding a team of 12 of the best juniors in Indiana, Corydon Central coach Jamie Kolkmeier had plenty of talent at his disposal. Kolkmeier, the head coach of the Junior All-Stars, said he has enjoyed the opportunity thus far.

"It's been fun," Kolkmeier said. "The toughest part is trying to get guys in some kind of rhythm and letting them play. Every one of these guys can play and probably play nearly every minute for their high school team. We just want them to play hard."

Kessinger was effective in stuffing the stat sheet in his 17 minutes of action. The game was set at two 20-minute halves. While on the floor, Kessinger was 3 of 8 shooting for six points. He led Indiana in rebounds with seven while also blocking a shot.

"Bronson did well and competed," Kolkmeier said. "Guys like Bronson, these games are so tough because you can't get in positions to do what he is best at. Not having any offense makes it difficult for any kid to score."

Being named to the all-star team meant a lot to Kessinger, a 6-foot-7 forward.

"It's a really big deal to be named an all-star in the basketball headquarters of America," he said. "For me, especially being the first from Corydon (to) play in it, I've had a lot of support lately from the community. It shows my hard work is paying off."

Kessinger entered the game in the first half and scored his first bucket with six minutes remaining. He took a nifty pass from Carmel's Ryan Cline to complete the field goal.

Indiana teammate Davon Dillard nearly brought the rim down, throwing down a lob from East Chicago Central's Hyron Edwards to put their squad up 10.

At the half, Kentucky trimmed Indiana's lead to 53-50.

In the second half, Kentucky managed to knot the game at one point, but a surge from Indiana pushed the margin back to double digits.

"We had a great energy group that came in midway through the second half," Kolkmeier said. "Jordan Geist (Penn) had great energy."

Kessinger had encountered most of the players on the Indiana squad during the summer on the AAU circuit.

"I've been around everyone on the team before except Davan Dillard," Kessinger said. "At the all-star practice was the first time I saw him and realized he was really good. It's easy to see why he's getting big college looks."

With Indiana up big late, Kessinger had his break-away opportunity as time nearly expired. Ending the game with a jam certainly wowed the crowd and pleased Indiana supporters.

"It's an all-star game, so we're playing hard but also putting a show on for people," Kessinger said. "It means a little more when you are playing the seniors. Nobody is really going to stand out because there are a bunch of great players here."

The Indiana All-Star team is split in two groups. A core of six players participate in all four scheduled games, while the North six and South six join the core six for two games each.

Indiana went on to sweep Kentucky in the junior series. Up next for Kessinger and the South six is a contest against the Indiana Senior All-Stars. That contest will take place tonight (Wednesday) at Columbus North High School at 8.

"The senior all-star team is loaded," Kessinger said. "I'm going to go up there and get them prepared for the Kentucky seniors. It'll be neat to see how I compete against guys I could possibly see at the college level."

At Dunbar High School, Geist led Indiana in scoring with 19 points. Others in double figures were K.J. Walton (Brownsburg, 17), Josh Speidel (Columbus North, 16), Harris Brown (Howe, 14) and Dillard (12).

Kolkmeier said it has been special to share the all-star experience with one of his own players.

"It's really neat with Bronson being here and be part of this. Seeing him in action against other kids and I think he is having fun," Kolkmeier said.

Also along for the series has been Corydon Central scorekeeper Tom Emily. He is serving as team manager.

Among the remaining players on the junior squad, Kolkmeier said several have been impressive.

"Ryan Cline can really shoot it, and Jordan Geist is a great shooter," he said. "This is a tough way to play as a shooter. You don't get a normal pre-game shoot in."

June is a month typically busy for high school teams. Kolkmeier said assistant coach Greg Robinson was set to begin summer work outs June 9. For the Mid-Southern Conference champion Panthers last season, Kessinger averaged 17.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 1.1 steals per game.

After the high school month of June, Kessinger will return to his AAU team, Under Armour Grind, which is based out of the Indianapolis area.

"We're with the Under Armour Association now, so we are traveling everywhere," Kessinger said.

They competed in Kansas and Texas during May.

"It's a league format," Kessinger said. "I've been working hard on my outside versatility college coaches advise me to work on. It's getting prepared for the next level of basketball."

As far as the recruiting process, Kessinger is uncommitted but has college scholarship offers from Ball State, Bradley, Evansville, Illinois State, Indiana State, IPFW, Kennesaw State, Toledo, UNC Greensboro and Western Kentucky and many other schools with interest.

"I'm getting calls and texts every day," he said. "I'm going to Ball State, Toledo and Belmont in the next few weeks. Coach Kolkmeier got us in the WKU team camp, so I am looking forward to going down there with possible future teammates if I choose there. From what I have been told, it will get really serious in the next few weeks."

Adding Indiana All-Star to Kessinger's resumé is something that will help the player who eclipsed 1,000 career points last season.

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