Corydon connection completes Indiana All-Star hoops series
Time-out senior All-Stars.
Corydon Central’s Bronson Kessinger knew taking on the Indiana Senior All-Stars was going to be a challenge. But the 6-foot-7 forward hailing from Corydon had a run of solid play in the second half last Wednesday in Columbus that forced the Seniors to call for a break in the action.
During that time span, midway through the latter half, Kessinger slid in the lane for a two-handed slam.
Staying levitated on the defensive end, Kessinger stuffed a shot attempt in the paint by Senior Tyler Wideman, a Butler commitment from Lake Central. Another bucket by Kessinger in the lane forced the Senior coach, Brownstown Central’s Dave Benter, to call a time-out.
‘It felt good to get some stuff done in the second half to get a nice little run going,’ Kessinger said.
Despite the outstanding play from Kessinger in portions of the second half, the Juniors were no match for their older counterparts. In the second exhibition against the Seniors, the elders won 124-102.
‘It was the third group we put in; Bronson was in there, and we made a little run, cutting it to 18,’ Junior coach, and Corydon Central coach, Jamie Kolkmeier said. ‘That moment, and the first eight minutes of the game were our two best segments.’
Although the margin was 22 points, it was closer than the 140-91 victory the Seniors had on June 9 over the Juniors that featured the ‘North Six.’ Last Wednesday’s contest that included Kessinger was played with the ‘South Six.’ The Indiana Junior All-Stars played with a ‘Core Six’ of selected players from the state who played in both games, along with a two-game series against Kentucky’s Junior All-Stars.
‘It was pretty awesome and a great experience,’ Kessinger said. ‘We knew we had no shot with the seniors, but we wanted to come in and compete better than the North squad did.’
Kolkmeier echoed the same sentiments.
‘I thought our kids competed a little bit better than we did Monday night,’ he said.
Battling the Senior squad was a load. Indiana Mr. Basketball Trey Lyles did not participate in the game due to an injury, but the Seniors were still a load with Trevon Bluiett (Park Tudor) and James Blackmon Jr. (Marion). The duo combined for 72 points. Bluiett, bound for Xavier, was 19 for 26 shooting for 44 points (also had 12 rebounds and four assists) while Blackmon, headed to Indiana University, was 11 of 19 for 28 points.
‘Blackmon and Bluiett can take it to other levels,’ Kolkmeier said. ‘It was a great experience, and I hope Bronson enjoyed it.’
More often than not, when Kessinger was on the offensive end, his No. 40 jersey was matched up by Bluiett’s No. 11. However, it wasn’t the first time the two have gone against one another.
‘I played against him a few times at Purdue and Butler camps,’ Kessinger said. ‘I figured coming into the game we would end up guarding each other at some point. It was awesome. I know he is going to the league (NBA) some day. It will be cool to watch him on TV next year in college and tell all my friends I played against that guy.’
Kessinger made the most of his 23 minutes of action. He went 3 of 6 from the field for six points and pulled down five rebounds. He also dished three assists and had the block shot that drew the most excitement from the packed house at Columbus North High School.
‘It was hard in the first half getting in the flow of things because we sub in and out so much,’ Kessinger said. ‘It’s an All-Star game, so there will be times you won’t touch the ball for several minutes.’
Kolkmeier said he could sense the Seniors were focused on getting better prepared to continue their winning ways against the Kentucky All-Stars. It worked, with the Indiana Seniors sweeping Kentucky, winning 104-94 on Friday (at Clive Beck Center in Lexington, Ky.) and winning 111-99 on Saturday (at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis).
‘The seniors came in, and they are working,’ Kolkmeier said. ‘They are treating it pretty aggressively and intently, getting after it. It was an 11-point game at halftime Monday night, then it went from 11 to 49. Some of that you see here when we let Bluiett get hot and we couldn’t keep Blackmon in front of us. (Bryant) McIntosh distributes the ball, but it helped us, some of our big guys, Bronson included; Brennan Gillis and Gary Bonds did a great job fighting guys off.’
Five players for the Juniors reached double-figure scoring; Columbus North’s hometown player Josh Speidel led the way with 17 points.
Overall, Kolkmeier said coaching in the All-Star series was a fun experience.
‘It’s a fun bunch,’ he said. ‘It’s been a great honor and very fun. Amazingly, I can’t believe how respectful and how pleasant all of our guys have been to be around. We didn’t always play as hard as we wanted to, but we had no bad experiences.’
Kessinger said the action against the Seniors was much quicker than what he saw against the Kentucky Juniors the previous week.
‘All these senior guys are going major, mid-major Division I,’ Kessinger said. ‘Heck, I bet a few of these guys will be in the league one day. So, it was certainly quicker. It helps me a lot, especially when I go back to school season.’
During the practice sessions, Kessinger said he served as an assistant coach of sorts for the Juniors. He helped show the Junior players some of Corydon Central’s plays that Kolkmeier installed during practice time.
‘We put in our regular Corydon offense in,’ Kessinger said. ‘It was neat to show the other guys our go-to offense, especially on fast breaks.’
Sharing the experience with one another was another aspect Kessinger and Kolkmeier appreciated. Kessinger, a 1,000-point scorer for the Panthers, will return for his senior season. He’s fielded multiple Division I basketball offers while leading the Panthers program the last few years.
‘I know Bronson is familiar with a lot of the guys through AAU, but, for me, it’s a chance to meet and see those guys in action,’ Kolkmeier said. ‘When I check papers and scores, I’ll be more familiar with who they are.’
‘I didn’t know how coach would handle it because he’s usually not involved in the AAU stuff,’ Kessinger said. ‘This was basically like AAU, but it was pretty neat. When we did the mini camp, I knew what to expect from practice. It was basically a Corydon practice. I helped show the guys how our practices are typically ran.’
Going through the experience brought the two closer together.
‘It helped us bond more and will definitely help us next season,’ Kessinger said.
Kessinger is the first player from Corydon Central to be selected to the Junior All-Star team. Previous Harrison County representatives in the series have been Chris VanHoose (Lanesville) and Craig Schoen (South Central).
Junior All-Stars 34 68 ‘ 102
Senior All-Stars 55 69 ‘ 124
Junior All-Stars ‘ Speidel 17, Geist 13, Edwards 12, Bonds 11, Dillard 8, Okafor 7, Brown 6, Cline 6, Walton 6, Kessinger 6, Eberhard 0.
Senior All-Stars ‘ Bluiett 44, Blackmon Jr. 28, Tyler 16, Sellers 12, McRoberts 8, Wideman 7, Thompson 5, McIntosh 3, McCall 1, Evans 0, Persons 0.
3-point goals ‘ Junior All-Stars 9 (Edwards 2, Gillis 2, Cline 2, Speidel, Bonds, Okafor); Senior All-Stars 15 (Blackmon Jr. 5, Bluiett 2, Tyler 2, Sellers 2, McRoberts 2, Thompson, McIntosh).