The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

June 29, 2013

West Indiana girls cruise in opener

BY ROB WITZEL
Commercial-News

COVINGTON, Ind. —  To start off the 2013 Battle for the Border, some of the area’s best basketball playing high school girls met up for a very unique All-Star Game experience. In the opening game, the Western Indiana All Stars took down the Eastern Illinois All Stars 55-32 and in tournament points took an 11-2 lead.

All sorts of area schools were represented from the Vermillion Valley Conference and the Wabash River Conference while players from other conferences joined in on the fun too.

From Indiana, the North Vermillion Falcons were represented by Mikayla Kinneer and Darby Martin, Jennifer Lee from Rockville was there for the Rox, Seeger Memorial sent Taylor Griswold and playing in her home gym was Aliah Larsen from Covington.

On the Illinois side the VVC displayed its stars with Callan Hall and Maya Green from Georgetown, Ashley Hoffman and Lexi Ballard from Westville, and Samantha Wilken from Milford.

“I was nervous and excited because I’m representing my school,” Griswold said. “This is supposed to be the best from each school so I was a little nervous trying to live up to that expectation”

This All -Star game gave the girls a unique opportunity to play on the same team as girls that used to be rivals.

“Taylor and I got to know each other,” Martin said. “We’ve been guarding each other for all four years of high school and now we’re playing together. That was pretty cool.”

While some were playing with former opponents, North Vermillion’s Mikayla Kinneer and future St Mary of the Woods Pomeroy had the chance to play alongside a future opponent.

“In the past few days I got to know Kayla Jones (of West Lafayette High School) and she said to me, ‘I’ll probably be playing against you for the next few year,’” Kinneer said.

Jones intends on going to Anderson University.

The Battle for the Border is quite unique and different from a traditional basketball classic. In this setup, two tournament points are awarded per quarter to the side that scores more in that quarter. Two more points are awarded for whoever wins the game, and three points can be earned in a halftime 3-point shootout. Rather than just counting wins and losses, this format prevents one side from taking an early lead and coasting to victory.

“It changes the game plan a little bit,” Hall said. “In the first couple of quarters, we were trying to win the game. But in the second half, because we were down so much, it was nice to know we didn’t have to come back from so much and we could focus on winning the last two quarters.”

In the girl’s game, Indiana took an 11-2 point lead by winning the game, the three-point shootout, as well as the first, second and fourth quarter.

In the first quarter Indiana took a quick 4-0 lead. Illinois’s Wilken scored its first basket before Indiana went on an 8-3 run. The first quarter belonged to Indiana 15-10

The second quarter was all Indiana. After exchanging a couple baskets, Indiana went on a 19-0 run and won the second quarter 24-4. However with the unique set up the Illinois girls were far from finished.

As part of halftime, the girls competed in a three point shootout. Each team in its entirety lined up at the top of the three point arch and in two minutes took turns shooting three pointers. Both sides looked great but Indiana narrowly beat Illinois 10-9.

After the break Illinois came out ready to play, Hall put up seven points to help win the third quarter 12-4

But in the fourth quarter, Indiana was able to grab two more tournament points by outscoring Illinois 9-6.

Becka Myers of North Montgomery High School and the Indiana All Stars was named the Player of the Game and while Hall received the Sportsmanship Award.

Tonight, the Battle for the Border moves to the Illinois side as the All Stars will meet at the David S. Palmer Arena to crown this year’s winner.