Jarrard, Rhoades on different sides for exhibition game

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FORTVILLE — The trash-talking started early.

It’s been going on for over a month.

Mt. Vernon basketball star Amhad Jarrard and Marauders head coach Ben Rhoades have a great relationship, but tonight on the floor where they have won so many games together, they’ll be on opposite sides.

“I’m going to give him his first ‘L’ of the year,” Jarrard said with a laugh, referring to the Marauders undefeated record on their home floor this past season. “It’s going to be real competitive. We’re both very competitive, so it should be a real good game.”

“It’ll be interesting, that’s all I’ll say,” Rhoades, talking with a smile in his voice, too, said. “Amhad and I have been having a little bit of conversation back and forth about who is going to lose.

“I told him if anyone knows the stuff he likes to do, it’s me. You need to know that we’re going to try to do everything we can to ruin your last game (at Mt. Vernon). He said, ‘We’ll see who has the last say.’”

As part of preparation leading up to the annual Indiana-Kentucky All-Star Basketball Series, the Indiana Senior All-Star team will take on the Indiana Junior All-Star team in an exhibition game.

Jarrard, after a stellar career and helping lead the Marauders to back-to-back sectional titles, was named as one of 14 players to be on the prestigious team that will take on the Kentucky Senior All-Stars this weekend.

The juniors, winners over the Kentucky junior squad earlier this week at Bedford North Lawrence High School, will take on Jarrard and his all-star teammates at Mt. Vernon High School today at 8 p.m. Rhoades is an assistant coach on the junior team.

“It’s an honor to play at Mt. Vernon one more time, especially playing against my old head coach,” Jarrard said.

“More than anything, it’s going to be a great thing for Mt. Vernon to host it,” Rhoades said. “We have had a lot of fun with it since we found out about it a month or so that it was going to be at Mt. Vernon. That’s one of the reasons I’m going to miss guys like Amhad. He’s been fun to be around.

“Amhad and I will still be friends after the game. I don’t think that will be a concern.”

Rhoades said when all-stars director Mike Broughton called and asked him to be an assistant on the junior team they weren’t sure where the exhibition game would be played.

“He said they were looking for a place to play the seniors and I asked if he would be interested in playing at Mt. Vernon,” Rhoades said. “He thought it would be neat with having me coaching and Amhad playing.

“I think our school and our community will have a good showing for the all-stars. (Our athletic director) Mr. (Brandon) Ecker told me he would be really interested and I got them in contact and they worked out the details.”

Both teams will be full of Indiana’s top high school players. A number of the senior stars have signed to play at NCAA Division I programs next season. Many of the juniors have committed to similar programs.

Prior to the boys game, the junior girls take on the senior girls at 6 p.m., in another game filled with future college stars.

“It feels good to know I get to play in front of my home crowd again, one more time,” Jarrard said. “Coach Rhoades told me first so it was very exciting to hear it from him. He also told me he was going to coach the junior all-stars so I was really looking forward to it.

“(Coach Rhoades) means a lot to me. He’s done a lot for me and never told me a lie. He always told me to keep working and I’ll get where I need to be and that’s where I ended up. He always pushed me to be the best me I could be and I am thankful for it.”

On Friday, the two-game Indiana-Kentucky series begins in Owensboro, Ky., at the Owensboro Sportscenter. The girls game is at 6:30 p.m. ET. The boys are scheduled to begin at 8:30 p.m.

At Southport High School on Saturday, the doubleheader, leading off with the girls game, begins at 5 p.m.

Jarrard averaged 14.6 points per game, 4.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.2 steals. The 6-4 guard, along with his twin brother, Armon Jarrard, will play next year at IUPUI.

The Marauders were 22-3 this past season and 17-7 in 2020-21.