By BLAKE TOPPMEYER Herald-Whig Sports Writer Mike Johnson saw Jessica Redd receive a couple passes in the lowpost with ease during Tuesday’s practice for the 30th annualMcDonald’s/Herald-Whig Classic, and he immediately knew there was aproblem. Nothing was going to be that simple for Redd or the rest of theMissouri all-stars during tonight’s game against the Illinoisall-stars at Quincy University ‘s Pepsi Arena. “We threw two passes to Jess, and all I said was, “That certainlywon’t work Saturday. You’re going to have to throw it a littlehigher,'” said Johnson, the Marion County coach who will leadMissouri.
That’s because Redd, a 6-foot-1 four-time all-state center fromMarion County, likely will be guarded by 6-1 Tori Kuhn, a two-timestate champion from Quincy Notre Dame who thrice earned all-state honors. It projects to be the game’s marquee matchup as it pits two futureDivision II players against each other. Redd signed with TrumanState University, and Kuhn inked with Lindenwood University. Theduo combined for seven first-team all-area selections, and Redd wasThe Herald-Whig’s Player of the Year in 2011.
“Honestly, I’ve been looking forward to (the matchup),” said Redd,who averaged 21.1 points and 9.5 rebounds per game last season.”That might sound a little strange, but just to see where I amindividually compared to somebody else. She’s been to state. She’swon state and all of that stuff. So I think it will be nice tocompare myself and to see physically where I stand.” Kuhn is also eager for the challenge her counterpart shouldprovide. “It will be nice to go up against somebody who, like I’ve heard, isvery talented,” said Kuhn, who averaged 11.6 points and 9.4rebounds per game in 2011-12. Illuminated Metal Keyboard
“It will be nice to have a littlecompetition.” Neither player, however, believes the game will be decided solelyon how their low-post battle plays out. After all, as much intrigue as the Kuhn-Redd matchup carries,swingmen Lauren Gronewold and Megan Brennan also have the skills totake over. Gronewold led all area Illinois seniors last season by averaging 18points per game for Illini West, and Clark County’s Brennanaveraged 14.8 points per game. And if the defensive focus shifts on stopping the post, each teamhas perimeter options who can soften the defense by lighting it upfrom distance. Illinois’ Jacey Hartweg set a West Hancock schoolrecord last season by making 57 3-pointers. China Custom Kiosk Design
“All the girls, every time (Hartweg) fires, they’re talking abouthow automatic she is,” said Illinois coach Brad Begeman of Unity.”If you give her just an inch of space, she’s shooting.” Hartweg’s Illinois teammate Laura Chamberlain will aim to do thesame thing. She made 36.1 percent of her 3-point attempts forPittsfield last season. As for Missouri, it possesses Canton sharp shooter Katie Shuman. “Her 3-point threat will be nice,” Redd said. Panel Mount Keyboard Manufacturer
Neither team will be short on big-game experience. In addition toKuhn, Illinois has point guard Shannon Foley, who started on bothQND state championship squads. Missouri has Marion County’s floor general Randi Lee Plunkett, afour-year starter who, along with Redd, spearheaded the LadyMustangs to a Class 1 state title in 2011. Marion County forwardRachelle Sharpe also will suit up for the Show-Me Staters, givingMissouri a strong Lady Mustang flavor.
Still, Johnson said Missouri won’t always mimic Marion County’sup-tempo, full-court pressing style. “I do know from past experience with all-star games that pressingis good in spots possibly but not for a half or for a whole gamebecause the kids just aren’t conditioned for it,” Johnson said. Johnson is coaching in the Classic for the third time, with arecord of 1-1. Begeman, who played in the 1989 Classic, is coachingin the event for the first time.
Begeman said he’s been sure to remind his players during practicesthat the Missouri girls defeated Illinois 69-58 last year and leadthe all-time series 18-11. “We talked about how Missouri has more wins,” Hartweg said, “andthis year we’re going to try to turn it around and get Illinoisstarted on the right track.” — firstname.lastname@example.org/221-3367.