Crozier shakes off nerves in Jr. All-Star action
Monday, June 09, 2014 11:00 AM
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Olivia Crozier didn't think she would be nervous. After all, the Madison senior has played in huge AAU tournaments and has been on the cusp of the state championship game in high school.
ALL-STAR ACTION: Madison’s Olivia Crozier competed in the Indiana-Kentucky Junior All-Star game Saturday in Lexington, Ky.. Crozier battles with Reauna Cleaver of Elizabethtown (above) for a rebound. Crozier shoots the ball (below) for two of her eight points. She also had eight rebounds in Indiana’s 84-61 win. (Staff photos by David Campbell)
But there she was at Paul Dunbar High School on Saturday fighting the nerves as her Indiana Junior All-Star team took the court for the second of two exhibition games against the top juniors from Kentucky.
"On the way down here (from Madison) I was trying to calm myself. I just kept telling myself to have fun," Crozier said. "But once you get out there, you can't help but be excited and nervous at the same time."
Crozier ended up doing just fine, scoring eight points and grabbing eight rebounds in Indiana's 84-61 win over Kentucky. She also had two steals and a block while committing only one turnover and one foul.
As a member of the "South 6" group, Crozier didn't dress in Friday's first game at Greenfield-Central High School near Indianapolis. In fact, all but six of Indiana's players competed in that game.
The nerves showed for everybody. A smaller but more athletic Kentucky team took control for long stretches of the first half and after Larue County's Alexis Brewer banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer, the girls from the Bluegrass led 37-33 at halftime.
Crozier had four points in the first half and missed three wide-open shots while going 2-of-7 from the floor. It was those misses that had her burning at the break.
"When I came in at halftime I felt much more relaxed because everybody had little things that they were disappointed in," Crozier said. "We just gathered ourselves and we came out here and said we're not letting Kentucky beat us. We are Indiana and we're the basketball state. We're not letting Kentucky beat us."
Indiana turned on the jets in the second half, outscoring Kentucky 51-24 to win the game going away. Crozier, who has verbally committed to play for Southeast Missouri State in college, doubled her point total on 2-of-3 shooting in the second half and picked up her only block. Both of her baskets came on short jumpers from the baseline, a shot she tortured opponents with during last high school season.
"I took it upon myself not to be nervous in the second half," Crozier said. "I took some shots and I made them because I was relaxed."
With six players standing at least six-foot tall, Indiana was clearly the bigger team overall. But no Indiana player could look eye-to-eye with Kentucky's 6-foot-6 Nora Kiesler from Assumption High School in Louisville.
Crozier's rotation on the floor had her matched up with Kiesler often. But Crozier was ready for the matchup.
"I played with Nora in fifth grade and she is tall and when you first see her, you are intimidated," said Crozier, who stands 6-foot-1 but was dwarfed by the bigger Kiesler. "She's tall, but she's not very fast and I could out-run her. If she's coming down with the ball, more than likely she's going to hold on to it. I tried to help out my teammates. Whenever they tried to front her, I was there for the weak-side pass from them. You can't let height beat you if you know how to defend against it."
The Lawrence North duo of Jordan Hankins and Lamina Cooper led Indiana in scoring. Hankins, a 5-foot-7 guard, scored 13 points on 5-of-19 shooting while Cooper, a 5-foot-9 guard, had 12 points on 5-of-13. Bedford North Lawrence's 6-foot-3 forward Jenna Allen scored nine points and had 11 rebounds while high school teammate Dominique McBryde, standing 6-foot-2, had eight points and nine rebounds.
Reauna Cleaver, a 6-foot-2 center from Elizabethtown, led Kentucky with 16 points and 14 rebounds. Morgan Turner, a 6-foot-2 forward from Meade County, added 11 points.
The win allowed Indiana to sweep the Kentucky girls - the Hoosiers beat their Bluegrass counterparts 98-67 on Friday night. Indiana's boy also won Saturday, 113-101, to also compete their sweep of the Kentucky Junior All-Stars after winning 127-104 on Friday.
Crozier is the first female player from Madison to be selected to the junior all-star team, which has been around since 1996. Madison's Logan Jones (2008) was named to the boys team in 2008 while Southwestern's Catherine Graham (2002) and Switzerland County's Ashley Chase (2007) have also been named to the girls teams.
Crozier said that she didn't realize the significance of the honor at the time of her selection but she understands that now.
"Everybody was like, 'Wow that's awesome. I wish I had a chance to do that,'" Crozier said. "I was like, you know, this is a once in a lifetime thing. I'm really lucky I got on this team and I just want to make the best of it."
Crozier will get one more chance to wear the Indiana uniform when her junior teammates square off against the senior Indiana All-Star team in a pair of exhibitions next week. She will dress in the game at Columbus North High School on Wednesday which starts at 6 p.m. She will not participate in the other game at Logansport High School on Monday.
"It's a pretty loaded team," Crozier said of the seniors. "I played against Erica Moore (from Mount Vernon) my sophomore year at semistate. She's really good. Brittany Jennings, Miss Basketball, can light us up. That's our main goal is not to have her score 40 points on us. Hopefully we get there and we're not, 'Oh my gosh, they're seniors and they're so talented' because I feel like we have just as much talent as they have."
GIRLS JUNIOR ALL-STARS
at Lexington, Ky.
INDIANA 84, KENTUCKY 61
INDIANA - Hankins 13, Cooper 12, All en 9, Schickel 9, McBryde 8, Crozier 8, Gaines 6, Patberg 6, Ward 5, Bailey 4, Sherwood 2, Archer 2.
KENTUCKY - Cleaver 16, Turner 11, Skinner 8, Brewer 8, Huff 7, Robinson 6, Kiesler 3, Sims 2, Frye 0, Switzer 0.
Halftime - Kentucky 37-33. 3-Point Goals - Indiana 3 (Hankins 2, McBryde 1), Kentucky 8 (Turner 3, Brewer 2, Robinson 2). Rebounds - Indiana 68 (Allen 11), Kentucky 53 (Cleaver 14). Assists - Indiana 19 (Patberg 5), Kentucky 9 (Robinson 4). Turnovers - Indiana 13, Kentucky 25 (Frye 4). Blocks - Indiana 8 (Allen 2, Ward 2), Kentucky 8 (Skinner 4). Steals - Indiana 14 (Patberg 3, Schickel 3), Kentucky 2 (Brewer 1, Huff 1). Total fouls - Indiana 22, Kentucky 17. Free Throws - Indiana 11-19, Kentucky 13-24. Fouled out - None.