INDIANAPOLIS — Erica Moore didn’t have any time to waste on Saturday night. Set to leave for West Lafayette on Monday after playing in her final high school basketball game, the plan was simple and to the point.
Find a rhythm. Get buckets. Finish strong.
Moore, a 6-foot-2 Purdue recruit, accomplished all three with a perfect shooting night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse to help the Indiana All-Stars sweep Kentucky 83-56.
“It really came together for her tonight,” Norwell coach Eric Thornton said after his Indiana All-Stars swept Kentucky for the first time since 2009. “That’s been really good about this week, seeing her really stick with it. She’s fought through a lot of adversity, and tonight, she made so many nice plays.”
Moore shot a flawless 3-for-3 from the field to finish with six points, three rebounds, a block and a steal as Indiana improved to 43-35 in the overall series.
Iowa recruit Whitney Jennings, the 2014 Indiana Miss Basketball winner, scored 14 points and was named the Player of the Game.
Homestead’s Sydney Buck (Butler) added 14 while Lawrence North’s Ana Owens (Cincinnati) had 10 to extend Indiana’s winning streak to three games in the series.
Moore scored her first basket within seconds of checking into the game midway through the first half. The forward’s second layup put Indiana ahead 32-18 as the lead ballooned to 27 points just prior to halftime.
The Indiana All-Stars never trailed, shooting 43.5 percent from the field compared to Kentucky’s 22.2 percent. Indiana’s bench contributed 45 points.
“It felt good to come into the game and get a quick point. It helps your comfort level go up really fast,” Moore said.
Contributing on both ends of the court, all three of her rebounds were on the defensive glass. In between scores, she routinely disrupted the passing lanes, forcing a turnover and contending several shots.
“I just wanted to go out and defend,” Moore said. “I wanted to make sure they didn’t get any easy shots around me.”
Moore maximized her 12 minutes, recovering from a scoreless performance on Friday night in seven minutes at the Clive Beck Center in Lexington, Ky. Indiana defeated Kentucky 83-70, but the Moore was only able to contribute two rebounds.
In the days leading up to the Indiana-Kentucky games, Moore, who lost most of her senior season after surgery due to repair cartilage in her right knee, combined for three points in two exhibition contests against the Indiana Junior All-Stars.
In her finale, she rediscovered her comfort zone, showing glimpses of the player twice chosen to the IBCA All-State first team and a three-time All-Hoosier Heritage Conference honoree.
“This team experience has been amazing,” said Moore, who compiled 922 career points, 423 rebounds and a Class 3A state champion and runner-up in her prep career. “Being with this group of girls was awesome. It was a great opportunity to be here.”
Moore departs Mt. Vernon as the fifthth Indiana All-Star for the girls’ basketball program and second in three years. Elizabeth and Barbara Skinner earned the distinction back-to-back in 1978 and 1979. Johnna Goff (2000) and Jessica Brown (2012) also represented the Marauders.
As for her immediate future at Purdue, Moore, the 21st ranked player at her position, according to ESPN, can’t wait to get started.
“I’m so excited to move on to the next level,” she said. “I want to do big things and be blessed to do good things there.”
She also wouldn’t mind picking up where she left off at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in three of the next four years. The venue is scheduled to host the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament from 2016-2022.
“I can see myself playing here,” Moore said. “I can’t wait.”
Jennings, who supplied the assist for Moore’s final bucket late in the second half, is anxious to see her all-star teammate become a force in the Big Ten, too – but to a certain extent.
“I think Indiana with Maura Muensterman (Evansville Mater Dei) and Purdue with Moore are getting great players,” Jennings said. “It will be fun to battle with them in the years to come. I think they’re both going to have great careers, and I’m excited to watch them and cheer for them, except when they play Iowa.”
INDIANA ALL-STARS COMPLETE SWEEP
The Kentucky All-Stars tied the Indiana All-Stars seven times on Saturday night, but, once again, they had no answer for the scoring tandem of James Blackmon Jr. and Trevon Bluiett.
Blackmon Jr. (Marion), an Indiana recruit, and Xavier signee Bluiett (Park Tudor) combined for 55 points as the Indiana All-Stars swept Kentucky with a 111-99 victory at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Five players finished in double figures for the Indiana All-Stars, which led their cross-state rivals by as many as 25 points and never trailed in the second half.
Blackmon Jr. followed up his 41-point game in Friday night’s 104-94 win with 23 points to conclude the series with 64 points, ranking him third all-time on the scoring list for the event. In 1969, Washington’s George McGinnis scored 76 points. In 1956, Crispus Attucks’ Oscar Robertson had 75.
Blackmon Jr. matched Robertson’s single-game scoring mark for third all-time during Friday’s win in Lexington.
“I heard last night I broke a couple of records, but really what I wanted to do was come out here and get both wins,” said Blackmon Jr., who shared Player of the Game honors with Bluiett.
Kentucky Mr. Basketball Quentin Snider, a Louisville recruit, tied Blackmon Jr. on the scoring list, adding a team-high 27 points for his 64.
Lake Central’s Tyler Wideman (Butler) posted a double-double with 15 points, 18 rebounds and four blocks. Arsenal Tech’s Jeremie Tyler (Ball State) added 15 points off the bench, including a crowd-jarring alley-oop dunk off an assist from Blackmon Jr.
Bluiett scored a game-high 32 points to give Indiana its 27th sweep against Kentucky in 133 games played since 1939.
He shot 12 of 23 from the field and was 5-for-12 from 3-point range as Indiana extended its winning streak to 13 games against Kentucky.
Kentucky hasn’t won a game in the series since 2008 and has yet to win in Indiana dating back to 1996.
“We talked about (the winning streak). We didn’t want to be that team to end the streak,” Bluiett said. “If we lost a game, we knew it was going to be on us. We wanted to keep it going, so these past two games meant a lot.”
The attendance for Saturday night’s doubleheader was 6,520 … At halftime of the boys’ game, Indiana All-Stars from 1944, 1954, 1964, 1974, 1984, 1994 and 2004 were recognized. Those “Reunion” All-Stars introduced included Anderson’s Roy Tayler (Mr. Basketball, 1974), Bobby Plump (Milan, 1954) and Purdue women’s basketball coach and former Miss Basketball Sharon Versyp (Mishawaka, 1984) … Columbus North’s Tayler Goodall (Florida Gulf Coast) and Kokomo’s Tayler Persons were named the 2014 Wooden/MCL Citizenship Award winners.