FORTVILLE – It’s a special privilege to be able to play high school basketball in Indiana.
A select few can play Hoosier State’s beloved sport at the next level — and before that happens, some of them are donning the special Indiana All-Stars uniform.
Garrett junior Bailey Kelham joined this elite club this year when she was named to the Indiana Junior All-Star team.
Does it get any better than that?
Well, for Kelham, in fact, it was.
Not only did Kelham get to play in the junior-senior game that helps the seniors prepare for their big showdown with their Kentucky counterparts, but she got to play for her coach.
Garrett’s head coach Bob Lapadot was named coach of the Indiana Junior All-Stars in March.
The junior and senior stars met Wednesday night at Mount Vernon High School in the final senior tune-up before their two games this weekend with Kentucky.
The Indiana Junior All-Stars got the better of their Bluegrass State junior stars last weekend at Bedford North Lawrence, 92-89.
And the score of Wednesday night’s game between Indiana juniors and seniors?
The seniors rallied for an 89-86 late win.
A quick look at Kelham’s line in the box score shows 16 minutes, 42 seconds ground time, no points on an 0 for 6 shot (0 for 3 from three-point range), two rebounds and an assist.
But Kelham said the stats aren’t what she’ll get out of the experience.
“I made new friends,” Kelham said. “It was super cool. The competition was fun. I see a lot of these girls on the travel basketball circuit, so it was nice to be able to play with them here.
Kelham said one of her senior goals — aside from getting as far as possible in the IHSAA state tournament with the Railroaders — will be to be named Indiana Senior All-Star.
The rest of Kelham’s summer looks like this: basketball, basketball and more basketball. That includes open gyms and shootouts with his high school teammates the rest of June, and a busy July with his Fort Wayne-based travel squad.
Lapadot, meanwhile, said the favorite part of the experience for him was the thrill of being able to coach one of his own players.
Kelham is Indiana’s first all-star all-star in the history of the Garrett women’s basketball program, Lapadot said. “I know how hard she worked, how much she put in,” he said. “That she’s the first in our history, with some of the great players we’ve had, it’s pretty special.
The Indiana All-Stars are co-sponsored by the Indianapolis Star and the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association. Proceeds from the games will support a variety of non-profit organizations in Indiana.
The 2022 Indiana-Kentucky Series kicked off Friday night at the Owensboro Sports Center in Owensboro, Kentucky. He then returns north across the Ohio River on Saturday night to finish with another girl-boy dual program at Southport High School in southeast Indianapolis.
Essegian ruled out of Indiana-Kentucky series
Central Noble graduate Connor Essegian, a Wisconsin draftee, was selected to the Indiana Men’s All-Stars team but had to pull both Indiana-Kentucky All-Star games this weekend after losing his suffering an ankle injury early in Wednesday night’s exhibition against Indiana. junior stars. Central Noble boys’ basketball coach John Bodey told KPC Media Thursday night that Essegian will be wearing a walking boot for at least two weeks.