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Inspired Hoosier girls pummel Kentucky

Inspired Hoosier girls pummel Kentucky
Inspired Hoosier girls pummel Kentucky
North Harrison graduate and Indiana All-Star Kim McMillin launched one of her two first-half baskets over Kentucky's Tracy Harbut in Saturday night's 53-point white-washing of the Bluegrass State's best senior girls. (Photo by Alan Stewart)

‘The measure of a true champion is not never falling but rather in how quickly you rise after you fall,’ a quote by Vince Lombardi written on the side of a shoe of Indiana Miss Basketball Katie Gearlds after Indiana lost by 15 points on June 14 in Owensboro.
After a 75-60 humbling at the hands of Kentucky’s best girls basketball players, The Indianapolis Star Indiana All-Stars decided to play for what was across their chests as well as what was inside.
‘Last week, we just didn’t come out prepared. This week, we played with a lot of heart and pride, and that came from having ‘Indiana’ on our jerseys,’ Indiana Miss Basketball Katie Gearlds said after the game.
The Hoosiers completely dominated Kentucky in literally every facet of the war and embarassed the visitors at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Saturday night, 112-59.
Indiana’s All-Stars shot 40 of 81 from the floor (49 percent), including 6-18 beyond the arc, out-rebounded Kentucky by a whopping 66-43 margin, tallied 23 assists to Kentucky’s two, and out-hustled the Bluegrass State on fast-break points, 26-4. Kentucky shot just 24 percent for the game.
The 112 points by the winners was just one shy of the all-time record of 113 set by one of Indiana’s best-ever teams in 1993 (113-51).
‘Last week we only had one day to look at Kentucky’s pressure, which is kind of unique,’ said Indiana coach Charlie Hall of Kokomo.
‘I felt if we got in the right formations and in the right spots, we could tear it up. Really, this week turned out how I hoped it would last week.
‘I’d like to thank our Junior All-Star team for the work that they did in helping us prepare for Kentucky. They simulated everything that Kentucky did, and that really helped us in our preparation.’
Indiana took a 26-9 lead in the first 15:30 of the game and never looked back. Kentucky led just once, 3-2, on a three-pointer by Charlotte Marshall of Shelby County.
By halftime, the hosts led the lop-sided affair, 40-18, and had given up just six field goals.
When asked about the monumental turnaround and what she might have said if someone offered her Saturday’s outcome, Gearlds, who scored 22 points with nine rebounds and six assists, chuckled and shook her head: ‘I would have thought they were insane. I’d probably ask if they needed to go to a mental institution or something.’
Kentucky’s top scorer with 14 points was Tony Slaughter of Shelby County, who is heading to Cincinnati.
Indiana continued to pour on the steam in the second frame, pushing the advantage out to as many as 55 points with 16 seconds left.
‘Tonight we ran into a great team, and it came down to a thing of state and personal pride,’ Kentucky coach Mark Evans said. ‘That’s why you very rarely see sweeps in this series. The intensity level was really high for Indiana tonight. The keys to the game, I felt, were to go to the boards defensively and reverse the ball. But tonight we were not able to match their intensity. They dominated us on the boards and played a great man-to-man defense. They shot phenomenally.’
Suntana Granderson of South Bend Riley (Xavier) scored 15 for Indiana, followed by 11 from Miranda Green of Pike (Xavier), and 10 from Lawrence North’s Reicina Russell (Penn State). Jackie Closser of Alexandria (Butler) had nine points as well.
Along the way, North Harrison graduate and University of Evansville-signee Kim McMillin chipped in with seven points in 10 minutes of action. She was 2-2 from the floor in the first half and added a three-pointer with 1:25 left in the game. The trey gave Indiana its first 55-point lead, 110-55.
‘Obviously, the offenses we ran in Owensboro didn’t work very well, but they were designed against a man-to-man defense,’ McMillin said. ‘We pretty much discovered in Owensboro that they liked to do everything with a zone and trap and press. Coach (Hall) changed our game plan, and we got up and down the floor more, and I think working on that helped.
‘He put so many set plays in during the first week, I think we got a little confused, and the second week he put things in that worked better against a zone.’
McMillin’s dream trip of playing in Conseco Fieldhouse was cut short earlier this year by Gearlds in one of the most memorable games in the history of the Indiana girls state basketball tournements. Gearlds’ Beech Grove club nipped previously undefeated North Harrison, 81-76, in double overtime. Despite being guarded by Gearlds, a Purdue recruit, McMillin turned in a performance for the ages with 34 points.
That made McMillin’s last game as a prep star Saturday even more memorable.
‘Playing in Conseco was unbelievable. It was awesome. We went in that morning for a shoot-around, and for the first 10 minutes I just stood there looking around at the empty seats. Everyone was laughing at me because they had played there four or five times, and I’d never been there,’ she said. ‘It was crazy how big it was. I wanted to have my picture taken laying down at center court, but no one would.’
McMillin was offered some advice when she stepped onto the famed floor in the first half.
‘When I first went in, Kentucky was shooting free throws, and Katie and I were standing at center court. She’s like, ‘You ready?’ and I said I was. She said, ‘If they double-team me, I’m going to pass it to you, so be ready to shoot that three. Just pretend like I’m guarding you, and you’ll hit everything.’
‘We went to the locker room at halftime, and I was 2-for-2 and Katie joked, ‘Do you hate me that much?’ She told me to use it, so I used it. I think she should get a little credit for that piece of advice.’
There was no rest for the weary for McMillin, who’s been home just once the past month. The day after the game was a quick stop by the homestead to pack and had immediately to Evansville.
In a phone interview Monday, she was walking around the campus looking for a spot for her individual player photo to be taken.
‘I love it. I’ve been here a day and love it,’ McMillin said. ‘There are six freshman, and we are all hanging out. We all got finished moving in at about 7 (Sunday) and came back and sat in the hallway between our rooms and talked until 2 in the morning. This place is great.’
Among the freshmen with McMillin is fellow Indiana All-Star Laura Gaybrick, who attended Perry Meridian, and Kentucky All-Star DeNasha Mundy of Louisville Ballard, who is two-time, four-event state track champion (100, 200, triple jump, long jump).
–Indiana’s boys led by as many as 14 points in the first half, but had to buckle down to outlast a feisty Kentucky bunch, 75-69.
After holding a 32-18 advantage with 7:15 left in the first half, Indiana saw its lead dwindle to 38-29 at the intermission. Then the boys from the Bluegrass rallied for the first time, 42-41, on a basket at 13:54 by Butler High School’s Trey Cape. Kentucky led by three with just over 11 minutes left, but their offense went dry late and Indiana pulled away to the victory.
Cage, the Indianapolis Star Indiana Mr. Basketball from state champion Pike, scored a double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds while chalking up four steals. Cage will attend Xavier.
Andrew Hershberger of Goshen (Western Michigan) tallied 16 points, including a late thunderous dunk, and was 6-6 at the line. Dan Cage of Bishop Chatard (Vanderbilt) was 3-3 beyond the arc, and Austin Montgomery of Perry Meridian (Bowling Green) went 8-8 at the charity stripe.
Indiana was 28 of 37 from the foul line, which helped counter being out-rebounded, 45-39. Both clubs had 27 turnovers. Kentucky was 22 of 69 from the floor (31.9 percent) and was led by Mike Brock of Simon Kenton (Eastern Kentucky), who had 17 points, and Ballard’s Sean Booker, who had 14.
Brian Smith, son of University of Kentucky head coach Tubby Smith (who attended with his middle son, Saul), scored three points in 20 minutes of action.