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Indiana All-Stars girls have sweep in mind: 'Going back to 2016 is too long.'

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Andy Maguire was discussing Juliann Woodard’s game this week with his Indiana All-Stars coaching staff. He referenced Kevin McHale, the former running mate of Larry Bird on the championship Boston Celtics teams of the 1980s.

McHale came a little before Woodard’s time. But the Jennings County star, who will play her college ball at Michigan State, can appreciate the comparison. “I’ve heard of him,” she said.

“I’ve come to love that girl this week,” said Maguire, the Indiana All-Stars coach from Zionsville. “She’s just an energizer in her own way … it’s not fast but it’s really good. She’s just tough and strong. She’s one of those quiet leaders. You can tell kids really respect her on the floor.”

With IndyStar Miss Basketball Chloe Spreen saddled with foul trouble most of Friday night, the 6-foot Woodard led the Indiana All-Stars to a 90-79 victory over Kentucky in the first game of the weekend doubleheader on Friday night at Lexington Catholic High School. Woodard finished with 23 points and six rebounds in nearly 35 minutes.

Woodard’s teammate, Fort Wayne Snider’s Jordyn Poole, added 19 points and six assists, though she spent the last few minutes on the bench with an ice pack covering her cheek. Poole said he was hit during a loose ball scramble in the same spot she was injured in the Junior All-Stars game on Wednesday night at Kokomo.

“After the whistle, she kind of ripped away and elbowed me in the face,” said Poole, a Purdue commit. “But I think I’ll be OK (for Saturday’s game).”

The girls Indiana All-Stars have not swept Kentucky since 2016, a fact All-Stars director Mike Broughton made a point to mention going back to when the team was selected. The All-Stars have t-shirts with two “wins” inside of a basketball on the back.

Sweeping Kentucky is clearly the goal.

“Going back to 2016 is too long,” Maguire said. “Our goal is to finish the job tomorrow. Hopefully we’ll have more of our players available.”

Bedford North Lawrence’s Spreen, an Alabama recruit, was in foul trouble early. She had two fouls at halftime, then picked up her third and fourth in the first three minutes of the third quarter. She ended up playing only 16 minutes, fouling out with 7:12 left as she battled for an offensive rebound. Spreen finished with 12 points, two rebounds and two steals.

Spreen said she was happy to get a win but also ready to turn the page to Saturday’s home game.

“I think we’re all ready for this game to play in front of our Indiana home crowd,” she said. “I think it will be fun for us to get another shot at them. I think we’ve got it in the bag but we’ll see how it goes. We’ll come back tomorrow and things we didn’t execute during that game like defense and matching up in transition … we’ll fix those things and get right for tomorrow.”

Kentucky gave Indiana all it could handle for most of Friday’s game, even with Miss Basketball Trinity Rowe, a Southern Mississippi commit, on the bench for several minutes in the second half with cramps in her legs. Penn State commit Shaelyn Steele, a point guard, gave Indiana trouble with 25 points and six assists, shooting 12-for-15 from the free-throw line.

It was a foul-plagued game on both sides. The Indiana All-Stars were 20-for-30 from the free-throw line, while Kentucky shot 26-for-35. There were 44 fouls called between the teams.

“We definitely want (Spreen) out there more than 16 minutes,” Maguire said. “We want her on the floor for 25 or so, at least. But I was really proud of our subs. In little spurts, every kid gave us something tonight. Some big shot or some big defensive plays. Chloe has been a tremendous leader this week so you don’t only lose her tremendous athletic ability out there but her leadership, too.”

Noblesville’s Reagan Wilson was the fourth All-Star in double figures, finishing with 11 points. Her 3-pointer with 3:12 left pushed the All-Stars' lead to 84-75. Kentucky never seriously threatened after that point.

Woodard was impressive throughout, doing a little bit of everything. Poole made a more current player comparison than Maguire, saying she plays like Kevin Durant.

“She can do it all,” Poole said. “She’s a beast, too. Her mentality is different, too. I’d love to play with her on another level, but I wish her the best of luck at Michigan State. I know she’s going to do great things, for sure. I feel like I can trust her out there. She’s a great teammate and a vocal leader.”

Woodard, the leading scorer in Jennings County history with 1,755 points (and 1,111 rebounds), said she has worked on her shot to become a more versatile offensive player. As for comparisons, well, she will leave that to others.

“I’m just me,” she said. “I just play basketball. I try to feed off of my teammates energy and bring my own energy and do what I can for my team.”

Call Star reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Indiana All-Stars girls beat Kentucky in 2024 basketball showcase