It was a tough-and-tumble edition of the McDonald's Michiana All-Star Girls Basketball Game Monday, March 31, at Bethel College.
"I'm glad (the officials) let us compete and kind of rough each other up because a lot of the girls are going to the college level," said Penn senior Jess Alexander, who led all scorers with 26 points with three 3-pointers and helped the Gray top the Red 79-64. "Going through those tough fouls will make us a lot better."
Alexander, who is bound for Saginaw (Mich.) Valley State University after helping Penn to a Class 4A state runner-up finish, scored 18 first-half points, finished with seven rebounds and thoroughly enjoyed the whole game — from opening tap to landing on her backside just before the final buzzer.
"It's just the competitive side of me, I guess," said Alexander. "I didn't know what to expect. I knew I was going to play with some great players and had to play team basketball.
"I was just having fun."
Penn senior Caroline Buhr, who had 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Gray team, echoed her Lady Kingsmen teammate.
Penn senior Maya Solomon was chosen for the game, but could not play because of injury.
"Going to the next level is going to be a lot more physical and upbeat," said Buhr, a University of San Diego recruit.
Two NorthWood High School seniors also competed for the Gray team.
Youngstown State University-bound Morgan Olson produced 18 points and 11 rebounds, including 14 and six in the second half.
"It's nice to be able to accomplish (the double-double)," said Olson.
Bethel recruit Taylor Fielstra, whose father Larry Fielstra was the Red head coach, wound up with four points.
"It's going to be a lot more physical in these types of games," said Olson. "College is going to be a lot more physical. I just need to get ready for that."
With her father as a former Bethel player and her signing to play at the school, Fielstra knew her surroundings better than most.
But there were still a few butterflies at first.
"I was kind of nervous, but the familiarity of it all was kind of nice to settle into," said Fielstra. "This experience was really good because it is going to prepare us for (the collegiate) side of things."
The highlight of the all-star experience for Fielstra was a visit Sunday, March 30, to the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Memorial Children's Hospital.
"It was fun to be able to play with the kids who are going through tough times," said Fielstra.
What will she do before Fielstra officially becomes a Bethel Pilot?
"I've got to get in the gym more, get in better shape and just shoot," said Fielstra. "I will definitely be a perimeter player, I don't think I can hold my own down low."
A player very familiar with the interior as well as the outside is Elkhart Memorial senior Khadijah Moore. The Ball State University recruit, scored 15 points Monday — eight in the second half — to go with nine rebounds for the Red squad.
Moore noticed the rough play, but was not too surprised.
"There was a lot of pushing and shoving, but this is an all-star game," said Moore.
Monday was another chance for Moore display her left-handed shot. Her southpaw technique came to her as she grew in the game.
"When I started playing, I shot with two hands," said Moore, a natural left-hander. "As I became older and got more practice, I learned to shoot with one hand and not two."
GRAY 79, RED 64
Gray — Paige Avery 1-3 2-2 4, Caroline Buhr 6-13 1-4 13, Taylor Parmley 3-9 2-2 9, Erin Guzicki 2-5 0-0 5, Morgan Olson 8-13 2-4 18, Taylor Fielstra 2-8 0-1 4, Jess Alexander 7-15 9-10 26, Kaitlin Elsasser 0-8 0-0 0. Totals: 29-74 (.392) 16-23 (.696) 79.
Red — Ashley Campbell 3-5 3-4 9, Nashaye Sutton 2-12 3-8 7, Taloni Reese 5-12 0-0 10, Haley Collings 1-6 2-2 4, Nikki Grose 4-11 0-0 9, Jenna Thomas 1-6 0-2 2, Khadijah Moore 6-18 2-2 15, Kelsey Gushrowski 4-5 0-0 8. Totals: 26-75 (.222) 10-18 (.555) 64.
Scoring By Quarters
Gray— 35 44 — 79
Red — 40 24 — 64
3-point goals: Gray (5-14) — Alexander 3, Parmley, Guzicki; Red (2-15) — Grose, Moore.
Rebounds: Gray (51) — Buhr 12, Olson 11, Alexander 7, Parmley 6; Red (40) — Moore 9, Sutton 6.
Assists: Gray (9) — Buhr 4; Red(8) — Campbell 5.
Steals: Gray (6) — Avery 3; Red (7) — Reese 2, Grose 2, Thomas 2.
Turnovers: Gray 16, Red 12.
Total fouls: Gray 19, Red 18. Fouled out — none.