Cvitkovic wins Wooden award

INDIANAPOLIS — Croatian-born Culver Girls Academy grad Andrijana Cvitkovic didn’t come into Saturday’s Indiana-Kentucky All-Star finale expecting to win the series citizenship award, but she was all too happy to receive it.
Cvitkovic was all smiles as she was named the John Wooden MCL Cafeteria All-Star Citizenship Award-winner at the half, and the Indiana All-Stars went on to build on a 38-32 lead at the break for an eventual 100-86 win, snapping a three-game losing streak to their Kentucky counterparts Saturday night at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
“It was a big surprise; I was not expecting it. It’s a great honor because he (John Wooden) was a great basketball star and legend,” said Cvitkovic of her award, which was given based on scholarship and community involvement as well as on-the-court skills and which included a plaque and a $500 donation to the CGA Athletic Department.
“I’ve been here for the past four years at Culver Academies, and it’s a great honor to be able to represent my school and the state,” she added. “It’s become my home. I’m from Croatia, but Indiana has become my home also. It’s just been an amazing experience.”
Saturday’s win came on the heels of an 84-78 loss at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Kentucky Friday night. The home team pushed its six-point advantage out to double figures on a layup by IU recruit Bridget Perry at the 18:14 stop of the second half, and Notre Dame signee and game MVP Taya Reimer — who missed just one shot from the floor on her way to an all-around standout 19 points, 10 rebounds, five blocks and four assists — followed up with an old-fashioned three-pointer as the Indiana girls put the outcome beyond doubt early in the second half.
“If you were there last night, I think you would say we were a different team,” said Indiana coach Mark Hurt. “We did a better job against Kentucky’s pressure and took care of the ball. I’m really happy for our girls; we stopped the streak.”
“We really wanted to focus on having a passion for the game today,” said Reimer, a 6’2” Hamilton Southeastern grad. “We were kind stagnate last night, and we just weren’t really into the game. When we were into it, we were just making the extra pass, you know going for that rebound. That’s what it was tonight.”
“It’s a great feeling. It’s been a couple years now that we’ve been on a losing streak, and it’s nice to break it, and hopefully the future generations are going to do the same,” said Cvitkovic.
While Reimer finished with her double-double, fellow forward Perry dropped 23 in a strong one-two punch for Indiana, which easily won the front court match-up with 56 points in the paint compared to 32 by Kentucky and a 50-42 rebounding edge.
Kentucky Miss Basketball Makayla Epps scored a game co-high 23 as Kentucky lost for the first time in the series’ past four games with Indiana playing without its own Miss Basketball Stephanie Mavunga, who went down with a sprained knee early in this year’s opener in Kentucky Friday.
“It’s really frustrating,” Mavunga told the Associated Press prior to Saturday’s tip-off. “You dream about this as a kid. But I know my teammates are going to get out here and execute and God willing, we’ll get the win.”
Cvitkovic chipped in two points on 1-of-2 shooting with a short jumper at the 5:31 stop of the first period during a 6-0 run that pushed Indiana out to a 31-25 lead before a pair of lead changes in the final minutes of the first half. The 6’2” Dayton recruit opened the Indiana-Kentucky series with three rebounds, a point, an assist, a steal and three rebounds Friday night after scoring six points with three rebounds in the in-state games between the Indiana Junior and Senior All-Stars last Monday and Wednesday.
The all-star series gave Cvitkovic, ranked 45th in the nation in the 2013 class, a preview of the kind of players she’ll be up against next year at Dayton, and she even got a little playing time with future fellow Flyer Celeste Edwards.
“Celeste Edwards, I’m going to be playing with her at Dayton next year, and I’m looking forward to it,” Cvitkovic said. “It should be a good season. The team over there is good, and I’m looking forward to playing with them. It should be a good season next year.”
At Indianapolis
Halftime score: Indiana 38, Kentucky 32.
KENTUCKY (86): Makayla Epps 6-10 9-12 23, Larryn Brooks 4-12 8-8 19, China Dow 7-25 2-3 17, Ashton Feldhaus 0-0 0-0 0, Kyvin Goodin-Rogers 2-10 0-0 5, Jessica Hardin 1-2 0-2 3, Whitney Hartlage 0-1 2-2 2, Michaela Hunter 1-2 0-2 2, Taylor Porter 5-9 0-0 13, Logan Powell 0-2 0-0 0, Beth Rates 1-1 0-0 2; Totals: 27-74 21-29 86.
INDIANA (100): Ally Lehman 2-5 0-0 5, Bridget Perry 8-18 6-6 23, Taya Reimer 8-9 3-3 19, Dakota Weatherford 1-1 3-4 5, Tayklor Lutz 0-0 1-2 1, Celeste Edwards 0-4 0-2 0, Ariana Simmons 4-12 6-6 14, Andrijana Cvitkovic 1-2 0-0 2, Caitlyn Tolen 0-2 4-4 4, Katie Curtis 0-0 1-2 1, Jill Morrison 2-7 1-2 7, Rhagen Smith 5-9 0-0 11; Totals: 35-74 25-31 100
3-pointers: Kentucky 11 (Porter 3, Brooks 3, Epps 2, Dow 1, Goodin-Rogers 1, Hardin 1), Indiana 5 (Morrison 2, Lehman 1, Perry 1, Edwards 0, Smith 1). Fouls (fouled out): Kentucky 20 (none), Indiana 16 (Weatherford).