Spreen shows her No.1 stuff as Indiana rallies to complete All-Star sweep with 66-64 win over Kentucky

INDIANAPOLIS – Miss Basketball Chloe Spreen rises for a jumper during the All-Star clash with Kentucky. Spreen scored 16 points as Indiana finished the series sweep with a 66-64 win on Saturday night.

By Justin Sokeland


INDIANAPOLIS – With pride and a prejudicial sweep in the balance, Miss Basketball showed her stuff. What else would anyone except from Bedford North Lawrence sensation Chloe Spreen? Winners rise when heat is applied, and Spreen soared to the greatest of heights in her high school finale.

Spreen, showcasing why she was chosen to wear that heavy No.1 jersey, scored Indiana’s final seven points as the Hoosiers completed a sweet sweep of Kentucky with a gritty 66-64 victory at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Saturday night. Spreen scored a team-high 16 points as the All-Stars recorded their first two-game monopoly of the series since 2016.

After trailing by 12 points in the first half, after battling back even with a teeth-barred charge in the third quarter, Indiana stared at a 59-56 deficit with 2:29 left. That’s when unheralded Lauren Walsh hit the only Indiana trey, that’s when Spreen took over for the final 97 seconds.

Her first bucket was a slash through traffic, drawing a foul and finishing the 3-point play for a 62-59 lead. On Kentucky’s next possession, she waded into banging bodies for a crucial rebound and absorbed a foul, making another free throw with 1:08 left. Kentucky answered with a trey from Reagan Bender, a Sacred Heart star and Louisville recruit who was a nemesis in this rematch, for a 63-62 difference.

Spreen was clutch again, driving for a layup with 38 seconds left. She had a chance to put Kentucky away at the line with 12.2 remaining, but she converted only one, giving Kentucky a chance to erase a 66-63 margin. And Bender almost did, popping free for a bomb that rimmed out. Kentucky’s Destiny Jones grabbed that rebound and drew a foul (from Spreen, her fifth) on a shot that danced around the rim as the buzzer sounded. She made only one at the line.

So Spreen left Gainbridge in triumph for the second time. The first was following the 2023 Class 4A state championship. After this one she walked off with her arm around teammate Reagan Wilson, thankful for the wins that cemented her status in state lore.

“I told Reagan, it was very emotional,” Spreen said. “These are my girls. That was my last few minutes of high school in Indiana, and I can’t even express it. I had high pressure, this was my time. I don’t have anything to prove, but I knew it was my time to show up, just do whatever I could to help. I was very motivated to do what I could.”

INDIANAPOLIS – Jennings County’s Juliann Woodard scored 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.

Spreen had plenty of help, even though Indiana had to compete without starting guard Jordyn Poole (who suffered a cheek injury in the series opener at Kentucky on Friday night). Juliann Woodard had 15 points and 12 rebounds (to earn MVP honors for the series), Walsh finished with 12 and Faith Wiseman added 10. They did a lot of the heavy lifting during the third-quarter comeback, setting up Spreen as the ultimate closer.

“Chloe came through huge in the end,” Indiana coach Andy Maguire said. “She’s been tough on herself. Wearing No.1 is hard. There’s a lot of expectations and pressure. I’m happy she fought through all that, played with heart and battled. That’s what a Miss Basketball should do. She just took what was there. We wanted her to do that.“

Indiana broke to a quick 5-0 lead, then made only one shot the rest of a dismal first quarter, finishing that rough 10-minute segment 3 of 18 from the field. Kentucky’s Shaelyn Steele poured in 8 points to power Kentucky to a 17-11 lead, and that margin expanded to a dozen late in the second. Indiana was probably fortunate to be within 34-25 at the break.

“All we really talked about was just giving us some heart,” Maguire said. “It may not be good or perfect, but put some heart into this and show them what we’re about. I was really proud. They’re very determined. These are girls that don’t like to lose, they’re competitors on that floor.”

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana recruit Faith Wiseman reaches over Chloe Spreen for a rebound. Wiseman scored 10 points and had 8 boards.

The catalysts were unexpected. After Spreen exited with two quick fouls (her third and fourth) just three minutes into the second half, and without Poole’s explosiveness off ball screens as an option, Indiana had to engineer a new attack. Walsh, admittedly the last pick for the 13th spot on the roster, was the hero. She drove for a basket, converted a steal into a breakaway, and scored off a Woodard pass. Camryn Runner’s baseline bucket and two Wilson free throws drew Indiana even at 47-47 for the final quarter.

Wiseman, an Indiana recruit, came up big with two lane buckets, and Woodard’s layup on a Wiseman return pass created a 56-56 deadlock and set the stage for the late drama.

Bender paced Kentucky with 21 points (including five treys), Steele totaled 15 and Jasmine Jordan added 12. Kentucky played without Miss Basketball Trinity Rowe, who suffered a calf cramp in the series opener.

“I felt like I had something to prove,” Bender said.

“I don’t think she shot enough,” Kentucky coach Kristy Orem said. “I’ve not coached a game in a long time without Trinity (they are a duo from Pikeville). Everyone stepped up. Our goal was to run them off the 3-point line. We can’t let them make 12 threes (which Indiana did at Lexington) and expect to win.”

INDIANAPOLIS – Chloe Spreen looks for a lane to drive against Kentucky. Spreen scored the final 7 points for the Hoosiers.

Woodard had the bulk of her points at the line (11 of 11) and added five steals. “I was up for the challenge,” she said. “I just put my head down and played my game.”

Indiana now owns a 55-41 series lead with its 16th sweep since the rivalry started in 1976.

“To do it with this team was fun,” said Spreen, now on her way to Alabama. “I had no worries that we wouldn’t pull through. It’s not bad when you’re doing what you love with people you like. You don’t think about anything except the moment.”

Prior to the game, former BNL coach Jeff Allen, bookcased by his daughters Jenna and Jorie (the 2019 Miss Basketball), presented the game ball.

In the boys game, Indiana salvaged a series split with a 92-89 win. Flory Bidunga, the Mr. Basketball and Kansas recruit, was a monster in the lane with 31 points and 17 rebounds, denying Kentucky its first series sweep since 1986.

Brownstown’s Jack Benter added 16 points and K.J. Windham had 13 for Indiana. Max Green paced Kentucky, which rallied from a 19-point deficit in the first half, with 25 points while Quel’Ron House added 24.

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana’s Reagan Wilson dribbles away from Kentucky’s Reagan Bender.
INDIANAPOLIS – Former BNL coach Jeff Allen, flanked by his daughters Jenna and Jorie, presented the game ball prior to the All-Star clash with Kentucky.