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BOYS BB: Kats' Bidunga, Rogers earn spots on Indiana All-Stars

Apr. 12—Flory Bidunga and Karson Rogers will get one more run of games together in Red, White and Blue.

Their time as teammates at Kokomo High School ended at New Castle in a Class 4A Regional game last month. Now they'll team up again this June as part of the Indiana All-Stars after both were selected for the most prestigious postseason squad in Indiana high school basketball.

The Indiana All-Stars, coached this season by Kokomo coach John Peckinpaugh, will face the Indiana Junior All-Stars on June 5 at Kokomo, then embark on the traditional home-and-away set with rival state Kentucky. Indiana plays at Kentucky on June 7 at Lexington Catholic High School, then returns home to host Kentucky on June 8 at Indianapolis' Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

Rogers said he's looking forward to "the overall experience and environment. It'll be fun of course to play with my coach again and my teammate Flory as well as the other talented kids we have on the team. It's always more fun when you have a whole bunch of kids that are talented. Especially, it's going to be more fun with Coach Peckinpaugh and my teammate Flory. We'll be able to share the court one last time."

Bidunga is in Portland, Oregon, for the Nike Hoops Summit and was unavailable for comment Wednesday night.

It's been a productive partnership. The Wildkats were 25-4 this past year with Rogers and Bidguna as seniors, falling in the regional round after their third straight sectional title.

Bidunga was a known commodity entering the season and maintained his stellar play. He's a leading candidate for Mr. Basketball. Rogers meanwhile was an important piece in the 2022-23 team that reached the Class 4A state final game, then saw his production take a huge leap this season as a starter.

Operating as a forward, the 6-foot-6 Rogers averaged 17.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists, co-team high in helpers. He was an effective counterbalance to Bidunga, who averaged 19 points, 12.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 4.4 blocks. A combined 6.6 assists is a big number for a pair of paint players. A lot of those assists went from one to the other.

"From the beginning of the season I figured we could play very well together, but as the season went on, I could see we could work the high-low together," Rogers said. "It came natural to us. Whoever was open would just score.

"A lot of teams try to double him inside and that left me open a lot. Since we were both pretty tall, I would sometimes have a shorter kid on me and I would draw the opposition's big man [as a help defender], and I would dish it off to him too. So it kind of went hand in hand."

Feeding Bidunga to rack up points and dunks made for electric moments.

"It's been a ton of fun, probably the most fun I've ever had playing with anyone," Rogers said. "His ability to dunk on any of our opponents is so much fun. Watching him dunk on somebody, it always gets the crowd hyped and our team hyped."

Being friends off the court made the on-court connection come naturally.

"Honestly, I feel like our off-court connection has helped us the most," Rogers said. "I have a couple classes with Flory and we go out to lunch all the time. We're just having fun with one another and that's ultimately helped our chemistry.

"Flory and I are both very unselfish. We honestly don't care who scores, we're just there to get the win."

Rogers' superb senior season put him on the radar to be picked for the All-Stars. He found out early this week he'd been selected

"I was surprised but also excited," Rogers said. "I had a feeling. I had a great season so I felt I could be a potential option for it, but was really excited that I actually got picked."

He wasn't thinking about being part of the All-Stars until this season. He averaged 4.6 points and 4.5 rebounds as a junior. Then after the first few games of his senior season, Rogers had a couple strong games and felt like he could be a player on the state scene.

Rogers said that his production increased due to "ultimately just stepping into a bigger role. Last year my role was to come off the bench and do what I could do, wherever needed. This year I had to step into a starter role and I had to start contributing more.

"I put in a lot of time in the offseason because I knew I had to have a big senior year, but I was pretty confident. I've been very talented, I can humbly say, but this year I got the opportunity to show that to everyone."

Rogers and Bidunga are the 20th and 21st All-Stars in Kokomo boys basketball history. The only other time two Kokomo players made the boys All-Star squad was in 1961 when Rich Scott and Ron Hughes made the All-Stars after leading the Kats to the state title.

The rest of the 2024 squad is Wapahani's Isaac Andrews, Brownstown Central's Jack Benter, Westfield's Trey Buchanan, Franklin Community's Micah Davis, Noblesville's Aaron Fine, Fishers' Keenan Garner, Brebeuf's Evan Haywood, Scottsburg's Jack Miller, Chesterton's Tyler Parrish, Evansville Memorial's Tucker Tornatta, and Ben Davis' K.J. Windham.