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Indiana girls let halftime lead slip away in loss to Kentucky

By DAVID RISLEY - drisley@thecouriertimes.com

LOUISVILLE – After Wednesday evening’s 97-58 romp past the Indiana Junior Girls, the Indiana Senior Girls All-Star Team appeared primed to sweep a pair of games from their Kentucky counterparts.

That sweep will have to wait another year. The Indiana girls squandered a 12-point lead late in the second quarter of Friday evening’s basketball game at Bellarmine University as Kentucky rallied for a 79-74 victory.

This contest was a game of runs, as the Bluegrass girls jumped out to an 8-0 advantage at the 8:20 mark of the first quarter before Indiana Miss Basketball Jorie Allen scored the first point for the Hoosier girls on a free throw 13 seconds later.

That 8-0 lead was Kentucky’s high-water mark of the first half as Indiana gradually began hacking away at its deficit.

New Castle’s Cameron Tabor entered the game with 4:23 remaining in the opening period and contributed to the comeback by burying a pair of free throws at the 1:44 mark and the Hoosier Girls pulled to within 18-17.

Kentucky scored the final four points of the first quarter and led 22-17 after one.

Indiana scored the first six points of the second quarter, including a pair of baskets from Allen, to grab a 23-22 lead and prompt a timeout by the Bluegrass girls.

Tabor returned to the court with 4:48 left in the second period with Indiana leading 28-24 and helped the Hoosier girls surge to leads of 38-26 and 40-29 by hitting buckets at the 3:34 and 42-second marks of the quarter.

That latter basket by Tabor came off a nice assist from Michigan City’s Hannah Noveroske, and Tabor also was fouled on the play but missed the ensuing charity toss.

Kentucky hit a free throw and then a basket in the final minute of the first half to pull to within 40-32 at intermission.

Indiana came out cold from the field at the start of the third quarter and Kentucky scored the first seven points of the period to complete a 10-0 run that started near the end of the first half and pulled to within 40-39.

Kentucky finally tied the contest at 45-all with 6:30 remaining in the frame.

Indiana managed to grab a five-point advantage with 3:06 left in the third period, but Kentucky Miss Basketball Savannah Wheeler canned back-to-back treys to give the Bluegrass girls a 53-52 lead with 2:25 remaining in the period.

Tabor recorded a blocked shot during her time on the floor in the third quarter and the two teams battled pretty evenly the rest of the frame before Kentucky emerged with a 59-57 lead after three.

Both squads battled pretty evenly during the opening stages of the fourth quarter and Indiana was within 65-64 with 5:37 left in the contest.

However, Kentucky’s Maaliya Owens, who had drained a pair of three-pointers in the opening period, knocked down a trio of shots from behind the arc in the fourth quarter, including her final one with 1:15 left in the game that gave the Bluegrass girls a 76-70 advantage.

That proved to be decisive as the Hoosier girls could outscore Kentucky only 4-3 in the final 75 seconds before falling by that 79-74 final score.

Tabor, who recorded a steal in the final period, finished the game with six points.

Kentucky placed three girls in double figures. Wheeler led with 19 points, Owens was right behind her with 18 points, and Lauren Schwartz added 12.

For Indiana, Emma Nolan and Allen led with 12 points apiece, and Sydney Freeman added 10. Noveroske, Carissa Garcia, and Amaya Hamilton chipped in with eight points each.