By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
After a week of preparation and two scrimmage games against the junior all-stars, the girls and boys Kentucky All-Star teams will take on the Indiana All-stars today at Freedom Hall.
The talented Kentucky squads — led by Miss Basketball Makayla Epps and Mr. Basketball Dominique Hawkins — will face a tall task in their rivals from across the Ohio River in the Hoosier state.
The girls all-stars are set to take the court at 5:30 p.m. today, with the boys game set for 7:30 p.m.
The teams will meet again Saturday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
“All of the (Indiana All-Stars) are Division I signees,” Kentucky Boys All-Star coach Allen Feldhaus said. “But, that’s the way it is every year. We’ve just got to make sure our guys buy into the team concept and not the all-star concept.”
The Indiana All-Stars have simply dominated the series with Kentucky in recent years — winning 15 of the past 16 games, including nine straight.
Kentucky has not defeated Indiana since 2008.
Led by Hawkins, Madison Central’s Ken-Jah Bosley and UK signee Derek Willis, the Kentucky All-Stars hope to end that streak.
But, it won’t be easy.
Indiana has nine players 6-foot-5 or taller, led by Michigan signee Zak Irvin and Indiana signee Devin Davis at 6-foot-7, but they also have some explosive scoring guards as well.
Six Indiana players averaged more than 22 points per game in high school, led by guards Mike Crawford (27.7), Demetrius Jackson (26.8) and Clay Yeo (26.3).
Much like his state champion Madison Central team, Feldhaus’ Kentucky All-Stars will rely on their pressure defense and rebounding and fast break opportunities when they are there, as well as a balanced offense that features some of the state’s best outside shooters in Bosley, Omar Prewitt, Rusty Troutman, Darryl Hicks and Tyler Jones.
Most of the players on this Kentucky All-Stars roster were part of last year’s junior all-star team that split a pair of games with Indiana.
That should give them some confidence, still they know they will be considered the heavy underdogs once again.
“Any time we beat them, it would have to be considered an upset,” Feldhaus said.
Coach Chris Sowder’s Kentucky girls team features Madison Central’s Larryn Brooks and Ashton Feldhaus.
Kentucky has won four of the past six games in the series, including 75-47 and 92-75 blowouts last year, but the girls from the Bluegrass will have their hands full with a much bigger Indiana squad.
Feldhaus at 6-foot-2 is the tallest player on the team, and Hancock County’s Beth Rates and Marion County’s Kyvin Goodin-Rogers are the only other two taller than 6-foot.
The Indiana All-Stars feature six players 6-foot-2 or taller, led by 6-foot-4 post players, Stephanie Mavunga and Jenn Anderson.
“They have a lot of size,” Ashton Feldhaus said. “We are guard-oriented. So we are just going to try to get out and run.”
The key to Kentucky’s success will be its full-court pressure defense, its speed and outside shooting on offense, and how well it is able to rebound the ball and get its fast break going.