INDIANAPOLIS — For Karissa McLaughlin, it was relatively simple. Kentucky turned up the energy in the second half and hit their shots. Indiana didn’t do either.
McLaughlin, the Indiana Miss Basketball from Homestead, was 4-of-16 from the field (2-of-10 on 3-pointers) en route to 12 points Saturday night in a 75-67 loss at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The rest of the team shot just slightly better, finishing 26-of-82 (31.7 percent).
Kentucky shot 60.6 percent in the second half to rally from a 33-25 halftime deficit and snap a seven-game losing streak in the annual series. While the Indiana Girls streak ended, the Indiana Boys All-Stars ran their streak to 17 in a row with a 94-84 victory. The series resumes at 2 p.m. today in Frankfort (Ky.) Convention Center.
“It was frustrating,” said McLaughlin, who added three rebounds, two assists, two steals and committed three turnovers in 28 minutes. “We’ve been working hard all week, then to come out in this game and not shoot well. We came out in spurts, when we came out with tons of energy and matched their energy, when we did we held our lead. Once we lower our energy, that’s when Kentucky came right at us. They held their energy the entire game and, unfortunately, we didn’t.”
McLaughlin said shooting woes were a combination of Kentucky’s defense and shots not falling.
“Their defense was very good,” McLaughlin said. “We could have moved the ball more. We could have attacked it more. To go along with that our shots weren’t falling, I think it got in our heads. It kept going on throughout the game. Hopefully, we’ll take this loss against Kentucky and bounce back (today) with tons of energy, tons of high fives and everyone hitting their shots.”
Kentucky coach Rodney Woods said his team was fortunate McLaughlin didn’t struggle.
“I don’t know if you ever hold a great shooter down,” Woods said. “You hope they miss. She got some great looks and she didn’t hit some of those. I”m sure (today) we’ll have to do a better job on locating her. We talked about knowing where she was, but she’s a great player and great shooter. We probably dodge a little bit of a bullet on some of those possessions.”
McLaughlin said Indiana has to keep Kentucky from rebounding as well as it did and scoring in transition. Each team had 52 rebounds.
McLaughlin said the responsibility lies with her and fellow co-captains, Dana Evans and Madison Wise, to get the team together.
“We’re going to re-focus and see all of our weaknesses (Saturday) and we’re going to perform at our best (today),” McLaughlin said. “We’re going to perfect what we can perfect in less than 24 hours. We’re going to learn from it and come out as a team, play to the best of our abilities and just have fun with it. Hopefully, it will be our day to shine.”
Indiana All-Stars coach Curt Benge said the girls appear to be under pressure from playing in front of friends and family.
“We’re going to try to play more loose and see how that goes,” Benge said.
McLaughlin’s Homestead teammate, Madisen Parker, scored two points and grabbed three rebounds in eight minutes.
In the boys game, Kris Wilkes, Mr. Basketball from North Central, scored 29 points on 12-of-18 shooting to lead the way. Purdue-bound Sasha Stefanovic hit two free throws with 25 seconds left to give Indiana a 92-89 lead. After a missed layup by Kentucky Mr. Basketball Taveion Hollingsworth (30 points), Indiana’s Jalen Adaway got a layup to help seal it. The UCLA-bound Wilkes wore No. 15 because no one could find the No. 1 jersey before the game.
“Going into this game, the most important thing was keeping that streak going,” Warsaw’s Kyle Mangas said. “We were all focused and determined to get that win and we did.”
The All-Stars will play without Castle’s Jack Nunge today because he has to report to Iowa. Nunge had 12 points and nine rebounds.
“We’re going to be missing him so we have to clean up the rebounding,” Mangas said.
The Indiana Wesleyan-bound Mangas scored five points in 20 minutes.
“I didn’t try to find opportunities when they come to me and don’t try to do too much,” Mangas said. “I let the big scorers do what they need to do.”
Carroll coach Marty Beasley, who is serving as Indiana coach, said his team wasn’t sharp offensively early on and was too careless with the ball.
“We struggled the entire game boxing them out and getting rebounds,” Beasley said. “They’re very physical. The second half we did a better job containing (Hollingsworth). We put Kris on him, he had a little longer length. We did a much better job shooting free throws in the second half.”
Beasley describes being part of the All-Star experience as incredible.
“As a coach, it’s something you strive to do,” he said. “It’s exciting to coach guys like we have in our locker room right now, incredible athletes. They have huge potential. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance and you have to make the most of it.”