LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It was clear on the faces of La Porte and Michigan City stars Riley Ott and Hannah Noveroske that they weren't happy with Friday night's 79-75 loss in the first of two games this weekend against the Kentucky All-Stars.
"It was a great experience playing here, but we're disappointed getting the loss in this game," Noveroske said after her eight-point, six-rebound performance on Friday at Bellarmine University's Knights Hall. "We're definitely gonna try and bring it back on our home court (Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis) and bring back that energy by playing a little bit harder and playing better defense."
Noveroske was one of four Indiana players who scored eight points, including a six-point third quarter burst off three consecutive entry passes down to the right block from Hamilton Southeastern's Amaya Hamilton, who scored eight points and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds in the defeat.
Along with 2019 Miss Basketball Jorie Allen from Bedford North Lawrence, Marquette Catholic co-centerpiece and two-time Class A state champion Emma Nolan helped pace Indiana's seniors with a 12-point performance off the bench on 5-of-7 shooting with a pair of triples.
"It's great to be around all these great girls," Emma Nolan said.
That scoring included a left corner triple off a dish from twin sister Sophia at the end of the opening frame to trim the hosts' lead to five at 22-17 after the first of four 10-minute periods.
"It's been a while. It's an honor to even be a part of this team with all of these talented players," Sophia said. "It's been a blast with them. It's helping us get ready for college because in high school, you don't usually have a lot of players that are pushing you like these girls do and committed to basketball as much as we are."
The Indiana side took a 40-32 lead into the intermission after a 23-10 period in the second where seven Hoosiers scored, including Emma Nolan and Noveroske, but an 11-point period from Marshall commit and 2019 Kentucky Miss Basketball winner Savannah Wheeler, helped the Bluegrass State jump ahead 59-57 after three with a 27-point frame.
Tennessee Tech signee Maaliya Owens helped carry the Kentucky bunch to the finish with three triples on three attempts from deep in the final 10 minutes of play to take a tie game at 65 all with 5:20 left to 74-65 at one point inside of the final three minutes of play.
"We got to look at their tendencies tonight and see what they like to do on the floor," Ott said. "(Wheeler) hit some threes from way outside, so you have to guard her going both ways and make sure you have a hand up in her face at all times and make sure you stay in front of her when she drives and just try to body up with her."
Despite the defeat in the first matchup, Ott is more than grateful for the chance to play with a bunch of stellar talents instead of having to take them on in the paint.
"It's a lot nicer to have so many good players to pass off to," she said. "It's a lot better instead of me having to drive into a bunch of six-foot girls in the lane and not having to worry about getting my shot blocked or altered as much because I have some girls that I can dish to and I know they'll finish."
While half of La Porte County's representatives were with the team the entire time, today will cap a wild week for two-thirds of the Nolan-named selections on the Indiana roster. Emma and Sophia had to bolt after Wednesday's practice at Marian University back up to Marquette's campus in Michigan City to prep for graduation while the seniors mollywhopped the junior bunch at New Castle High School that evening.
"It was really weird to go from basketball and switch back into school mode," Emma Nolan said. "Being surrounded by everyone again was really weird, but it was cool to be around everybody again to see them one last time."
"...We went from playing basketball with all these new girls to back with our friends for graduation and it was weird because it felt like we already graduated," Sophia Nolan added.
The positive outlook for the La Porte County quartet heading into today's rematch is it'll be on their turf back home again in Indiana, specifically the hardwood where the Nolan twins won back-to-back state championships in the past two Februarys with Marquette in Indianapolis.
"We'll be really happy to see that court again," Emma Nolan said. "I think we have a little advantage because we've played there two times already, so we got a feel for the court and the building."
2019 Indiana-Kentucky Girls Basketball All-Star Game
At Bellarmine University, Louisville
Kentucky 79, Indiana 75
Emma Nolan scored 12 points, while Hannah Noveroske chipped in eight.