By GREG KEIM
THE GOSHEN NEWS
MISHAWAKA — MISHAWAKA — Aimee Swihart and Savannah Bley have competed against each other for the past several years at the high school girls basketball level.
On Monday night, Swihart (Goshen) and Bley (NorthWood) were teammates on the Red Team that dropped a 76-66 decision to the Gray Team in the McDonald’s All-Star Game at Bethel College in Mishawaka before a crowd of 1,612 fans.
“For me it was easy to be on the same team with players I have competed against in high school,” Swihart said. “I don’t hold grudges. When I’m on the floor whoever is on my team are my teammates.”
“It was great to meet new people and to be on the same team with girls I have been playing against in high school,” Bley said.
Swihart’s layup with 4:49 left to play pulled her team to within one point (62-61). Gray kept the lead and were up by four points (69-65) with 2:12 to go following a basket after an offensive rebound by Keshyana Copper of Michigan City. Cam Tyler of Lakeshore (Michigan) made it 69-66 with a free throw at 1:38 but that was as close as Red could get. Gray closed it out with a 7-0 run as Jennifer Walker-Crawford of Warsaw scored six of the final points.
This was the first year for the girls game that was put on by the McDonald’s of Northern Indiana (Dave and Kathleen Sparks owners) and Bethel men’s basketball coach Mike Lightfoot and his coaching staff.
Both the Red and the Gary rosters included all high school seniors.
Since many of them will be going on to play in college the game was officiated under collegiate rules, including two 20-minute halves and a 30-second shot clock.
The game gave Swihart the opportunity to play in the gym she will compete in the next four years as she has signed to play for Jody Martinez and the Bethel Pilots.
“It was pretty cool to play here,” Swihart said. “I like the gym and am looking forward to playing here.”
Most of the time players were on the floor for about five minutes before sitting on the bench for the next five.
“It can be hard to get into a rhythm in a game like that,” Swihart said. “Playing in all-star games can be fun, but it’s not something that I love. Still it’s an honor to be chosen.”
Bley scored a team-high 14 points for the Red on 7-of-11 shooting. She also had five rebounds and two steals. Swihart was also in double figures with 11 points. She chipped in with four rebounds, three assists and four steals. Monica Jones of Elkhart Memorial had eight points, three rebounds, an assist and a steal while Tia Garnett of Elkhart Central added four points, six rebounds, an assist and a steal.
Walker-Crawford tossed in 16 points, Cooper 13 and Lindsay Baker of Warsaw 11 to lead Gray.
On Sunday, the players had a chance to go to the Ronald McDonald House at Memorial Hospital in South Bend.
“That was a unique experience,” Bley said. “We didn’t get to go in to see any of the premature babies, but we did get to talk to some of the parents. They need our support.”
Bley had a reason why the trip had a special meaning to her.
“I was a patient in the hospital last summer for a week and it’s no fun to be cooped up for that long,” she said. “I had what the doctors called a helium bubble in my throat. I had been playing volleyball all day and some of the other players wondered why my voice sounded so funny.
“I have asthma but the doctors said that had nothing to do with this problem. There wasn’t much they could do. They just had to make sure it didn’t block my breathing.
“The trip to the hospital made me think how blessed I am. Before going on the court tonight I thanked the Lord for all the blessings he has given me. I wouldn’t be out there without all of his blessings.”
Gray Team 76, Red Team 66
RED — Aimee Swihart 5-13 0-0 11, Savannah Bley 7-11 0-0 14, Olivia Carlton 2-9 0-0 5, Taylor Lutz 2-8 0-0 4, Michelle Adeniyi 4-9 0-0 8,Monica Jones 3-4 2-2 8, Cam Tyler 2-7 1-2 5, Molly Hoover 2-7 0-0 5, Katie Barnard 1-6 0-0 2, Tia Garnett 2-10 0-1 4. Team: 30-84 3-5 66
GRAY — Lindsey Baker 3-13 4-5 11, Kerria Columbus 3-7 0-1 6, Amber Redinger 3-6 2-2 8, Erica Priebe 1-4 1-2 3, Jennifer Walker-Crawford 5-14 6-8 16, Toni Murphy 2-4 0-0 4, Christine Valentine 2-5 3-4 7, KiLee Knafel 2-6 0-0 5, Keshyana Cooper 6-7 1-2 13, Lauren Brower 1-4 0-0 32. Team: 28-70 17-24 76
Red 24 42 — 66
Gray 29 47 — 76
3-point goals: (Red) 3-21 (Carlton 1-5, Hoover 1-4, Swihart 1-4, Jones 0-1, Lutz 0-2, Garnett 0-5). Gray 3-22 (Brower 1-3, Knafel 1-4, Baker 1-8, Murphy 0-1, Valentine 0-2, Columbus 0-4).
Fouls: Red 18, Gray 10.
Rebounds: Red 57 (Adeniyi 7,Hoover 7, Barnard 6, Garnett 6). Gray 45 (Cooper 11, Walker-Crawford 8, Baker 7, Valentine 5).
Assists: Red 15 Lutz 5, Carlton 3, Swihart 3). Gray 11 (Walker-Crawford 4).
Steals: Red 19 (Swihart 4, Adeniyi 2, Bley 2, Lutz 2). Gray 20 (Redinger 3, Walker-Crawford 3).
Turnovers: Red 24, Gray 22.