Earlier this week, Whiteland basketball player Mackenzie Blazek made her imposing interior presence known in a different part of the state.
Blazek scored seven points, pulled down 12 rebounds and blocked two shots as a member of the Junior All-Stars in a 112-76 exhibition loss to the Indiana All-Stars at New Albany High School.
Center Grove sharpshooter Cassidy Hardin, a 5-10 Purdue University recruit, was one of Blazek’s teammates on the Junior All-Stars. Hardin, too, impressed with 11 points and three steals.
“It was an amazing experience playing with and against such great players in that environment,” Blazek said. “There was good attendance, so it was a fun environment to play in.”
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The two know each other from the six times Whiteland has played Center Grove since the start of the 2014-15 season. Moreover, this marks the second consecutive summer they’ve been AAU teammates for Indiana Flight Thunder U17 squad.
The familiarity didn’t end there.
Hardin’s future Boilermakers’ teammate, 5-10 Martinsville guard Kayana Traylor, also played for the Junior All-Stars. The duo played against Indiana All-Star and Miss Basketball Karissa McLaughlin of Homestead, a 5-8 guard who signed with Purdue in April.
Soon enough, Hardin’s knack for using screens and quick-release jump shots were on display for a different audience.
“It was really weird, but in a good way because I was playing with players I’ve always played against,” Hardin said. “The coach was from Eastern (Pekin), which I had never heard of, and I don’t think he had ever heard of me.
“I was playing the ‘4’, but my teammates knew I was a shooter, so I got some looks. When I saw an opening, I was letting it go.”
Today, Hardin turns her focus to her second-favorite sport — tennis.
Hardin and junior Isabella Schoolcraft are one of eight doubles teams qualified for the Individual State Tournament at Park Tudor School in Indianapolis. They will play Susan Biederstedt and Autumn Clark of North Central in a 2 p.m. quarterfinals match.