The Courier-Journal (Louisville)

Kentucky, Indiana boys split All-Stars series

- Kyle Neddenriep GRACE HOLLARS/INDYSTAR

INDIANAPOL­IS — The last time Kentucky swept the Indiana All-Stars in the annual high school basketball series, “Top Gun” — the original — was the top movie in theaters. It was 1986.

“I know for damn sure I did not want that to happen to us," Indiana All-Star Aaron Fine of Noblesvill­e said. "I did not want to be part of that and go in the record books. I wanted to be able to tell my kids we won at least one game.”

Fine’s future kids can scroll the list of results some day and see the Indiana All-Stars did find a way to split the series. The All-Stars held off a late Kentucky rally for a 92-89 victory on Saturday night at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in front of 5,445 fans.

It was a highly motivated Indiana AllStars team coming off Friday night’s 103-82 loss at Kentucky in Lexington. That game turned when IndyStar Mr. Basketball Flory Bidunga of Kokomo was whistled for a technical — his fifth foul — with Indiana trailing by one point. He watched the last 10-plus minutes from the bench was Kentucky poured it on.

“We took it personal,” Bidunga said. When the 6-9 Bidunga takes it personal, the results usually follow. The Kansas recruit and McDonald’s All American put on a dominant performanc­e Saturday with 31 points, 17 rebounds, five blocked shots and four assists in 38 minutes. He was backed by Purdue recruit Jack Benter as the Brownstown Central star finished with 16 points and four rebounds.

“I thought we played more of a complete game tonight,” Benter said. “(Friday night) we played like 25 minutes good and the other minutes we didn’t play so good. We played more of a complete game.”

The Indiana All-Stars, in similar fashion to Friday’s game, were dominant in the early going. Indiana closed the half with a 10-0 run, capped by a running 3-pointer by Benter, to take a 50-31 lead into halftime. It appeared Indiana All-Stars coach John Peckinpaug­h’s challenge to “take it personal” landed with the team.

“Some stuff didn’t go our way down there that was out of our control,” Peckinpaug­h

said of the loss in Kentucky. “I stated (Friday) I didn’t do a good job of handling adversity and it kind of snowballed down to our players. We addressed that and challenged them to step up and try their best to defend some guys who can make really tough shots. I think we did a good job with that for the majority of the game. They have some guys over there who make some really, really tough shots.”

To name a few: Max Green, Quel’Ron House and Tyler Perry. Green, a 6-6 guard headed to Holy Cross, burned the All-Stars on Friday for 36 points. He poured in a team-high 25 points on Saturday, including 16 in the second half. House, a 6-foot guard signed with Jacksonvil­le State, scored 18 of his 24 points in the second half. And, Perry, Mr. Basketball and a Kentucky commit scored 12 of his 17 after halftime.

It added up to a bit of a scramble for the All-Stars in the final minutes. Kentucky had the ball and a chance to tie, in the waning seconds after an Indiana turnover but were unable to get a clean look and missed short.

“It felt good to get the win but I think we still felt like we could have played better,” said K.J. Windham of Ben Davis. “Just us being competitor­s. Especially me. When you are up by a lot and sort of make stuff tougher than it is, it got a little frustratin­g. But I’m glad we got the win.”

In large part due to the presence of Bidunga, who threw down several authoritat­ive dunks, the Indiana All-Stars were plus-11 on rebounds. Bidunga was 13-for-21 from the field and 5-for-8 from the free-throw line.

“He’s been really special to our community and our basketball program at Kokomo,” Peckinpaug­h said of Bidunga, who came to Kokomo from the Republic of the Congo before his sophomore year. “He’s a wonderful kid and he’s going to have a big-time future. He’s a hard worker and he’s going to keep getting better. We’ve had a lot of good memories together. He might tell you I’ve yelled at him too much but it’s been a fun ride and I’m glad I got to coach him two more games before he heads off to college.”

Windham added 13 points, including 11 in the first half, before he leaves for Northweste­rn. Eastern Kentucky recruit Micah Davis of Franklin had 11 points and Brebuef Jesuit guard and Butler recruit Evan Haywood added 10 points and six rebounds. Keenan Garner of Fishers, an IU Indy recruit, filled the stat sheet with nine points, 10 rebounds and three assists.

For everyone in the locker room, it was a final high school game before starting the college experience. Most of the players leave as early as Sunday. To go out on a positive note, and improve the all-time series record to 105-46, was significan­t.

“I feel like we all have one goal in mind and that was to win,” Benter said.

Call Star reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649.

 ?? ?? Kentucky All-Star Max Green (5) yells to teammates on Saturday during the boys seniors All-Star game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapol­is. Indiana All-Stars defeated the Kentucky All-Stars.
Kentucky All-Star Max Green (5) yells to teammates on Saturday during the boys seniors All-Star game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapol­is. Indiana All-Stars defeated the Kentucky All-Stars.

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