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The Journal Gazette

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Organizers Jason Ridge, left, and Tom Rehm speak with boys basketball players before Sunday's tryouts for the Nancy Rehm/Border Wars Classic team at Saint Francis.

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Norwell’s Brandon Nicholson, right, and Wayne’s Kylon Jarreau fight for position during Sunday’s tryout.

Monday, April 16, 2018 1:00 am

Border Wars turn rivals into teammates

AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette

The top senior boys and girls basketball players in northeast Indiana know how to play against one another but the biggest key during tryouts for the 26th annual Nancy Rehm/Border Wars Classic is becoming a team.

“Just looking to see girls that are just engaged,” girls coach Juanita Goodwell said at tryouts Sunday at Saint Francis' Hutzell Center. “We know all the girls that have been invited can play basketball, so talent is going to be there. I'm looking to find girls that want to play together. This isn't going to be an individual showcase. It's not somebody coming out here and showing off their individual talents. It's definitely putting a group together that can play together, compete and try to get a victory for Indiana.”

Tryouts were held Wednesday and Sunday as the Indiana rosters, who will compete against Ohio, will be announced today.

“It's pretty fun,” Wayne's Kylon Jarreau said of being invited to try out. “I've always looked at it as something that I should be able to do. Coming in from freshman, sophomore and junior year, seeing the older guys on the team, it looked like a lot of fun with them competing with each other and not just against. For me to be here, it just feels good.”

The process involved scrimmaging with different matchups, creating a different and new challenge for players who are used to learning how to defend their new teammates.

“During the season, all these guys, we're kind of enemies,” Homestead's Sam Buck said. “We don't despise each other, but we compete. We just go at each other. It's great to finally go out and play with these guys because they're great ball players. It's just good to compete with them.

“It's a lot of fun. A lot of games, a lot of competing. It's been a lot of fun. None of us have played competitively since high school season so it's fun to finally get games going again.”

For Goodwell, seeing that aspect from the coaching side is fun, too.

“I think that's always a great thing,” she said. “I've been a part of a couple of (All-Star games). I was an Indiana All-Star coach in 2013, and just having that ability to see the talents come together and really play as a strong, competitive team at all levels and being able to come off the bench with the same talent and opportunity, that's just a great thing to do.

“It's fun to be able to be in charge of it and having the opportunity to see the girls that have competed against each other aggressively all season long to smile and enjoy each other and the talent they bring to the court.”

After Indiana swept last year's games, the Hoosier state comes in with a 15-10 advantage on the boys side and 13-12 for the girls.

“It makes us want to beat them,” Carroll's Kelli Damman said of Ohio. “We're one-up on them now; we don't want to lose that streak so we're definitely push ourselves as far as we can.”

The games are April 29 at Saint Francis, with the girls at 2 p.m. and boys at 4:15 p.m.