Yeo goes out on top

INDIANAPOLIS — The third time proved the charm for Triton’s Clay Yeo Saturday night.
The last two times the all-time Marshall County scoring leader played at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse, he’d come away on the losing end, but in his final trip to the floor of Bankers Life at Saturday’s Indiana-Kentucky All-Star capper, Yeo finally got the win.
Yeo chipped in two points on 1-of-3 shooting with a block and an assist, and Indiana overcame a shaky start to sweep the series a fifth straight year with a down-to-the-wire 84-77 victory.
It was a nice bookend to Yeo’s high school career after the four-year Triton standout suffered a pair of losses in his last two trips with the Trojans to the Fieldhouse in the 2011 and 2013 Class A state championship games.
“I was excited to come back here one more time tonight to finish out my career,” said Yeo. “It didn’t go the way I wanted it to the past couple times, but it went the way I wanted it to tonight. It feels great because I know most of the guys really well, and it just feels great to experience this event.”
It was a much more competitive showing for Kentucky than the 114-60 rout in the opener at Freedom Hall Friday night as the visitors jumped out to a 6-0 lead Saturday before a trio of Indiana 3-pointers and four straight points by IU recruit and game MVP Devin Davis gave the Hoosiers their first lead of the night, 19-17. Indiana pushed the advantage out to as many as 11 points with a coast-to-coast layup by Mishawaka Marian grad and Notre Dame-bound Demetrius Jackson at the 18:49 mark of the second half, and the home team never trailed again, although Kentucky kept it close until late.
University of Kentucky recruit Dominique Hawkins converted on a four-point play with 5:43 remaining to cut Indiana’s lead to 65-62, but Davis again scored four straight points — including a steal for a break-away two-handed jam — to spark a 14-6 run spanning from the 3:23 mark to the 1:07 stop of the clock, and Indiana once again claimed bragging rights with its 11th straight series win in front of a crowd of more than 6,200.
“Well, we won, and that’s what we’re here to do,” said Indiana coach Scott Heady of Carmel. “Obviously a lot closer game than last night… It’s no question, we knew they were going to come back. They’ve got a lot of pride. They’re the Kentucky All-Stars, and they’re the best players in their state. They come out and compete, and I think that combined with the fact that — give their coaches credit — they had a heck of a game plan to slow us down and change the tempo of the game.”
“Last night we came in with a very strong mentality, and we wanted to show we were capable of doing it,” said Yeo following Saturday’s win. “Tonight was a good win; we pulled it out. A little bit closer this time, credit Kentucky.”
Yeo, who will play for Valparaiso next year, recorded a block at the 8:38 mark of the first period and scored his only bucket on a slashing layup with 5:36 left in the first half. His swing pass to Blake Simmons for a triple from the corner with 2:43 remaining in the half gave Indiana its second double-digit lead of the night, 37-26, but the 6’6” guard saw little more action, sitting out the second half after subbing out with 30 seconds left in the first period to finish with just seven minutes of playing time in the classic.
He finished 5-of-6 from the floor with two 3-pointers, three rebounds and an assist in the All-Star opener in Kentucky Friday night after putting up a combined 15 points with seven rebounds, four assists, a steal and a block in the two Indiana Senior versus Junior All-Star games last Monday and Wednesday.
“These guys are tough. We’ve got guys out here going to Indiana, Purdue, Kentucky, all of the big-name schools, and it’s fun to compete with them in practice and also the games,” said Yeo.
“It’s a fantastic week,” he added. “(Game Director) Charlie Hall does a great job of running things and making sure everyone’s on time. It’s just a great experience, and I’m very blessed to be a part of it.”
The bonus for Yeo in the series was the chance to room with former AAU teammate and friend Jackson, who finished with a balanced four points, six rebounds, four blocks, three assists and two steals while putting in a solid effort intermittently drawing the tough defensive assignment against game-high scorer Hawkins.
“I showed up a week ago, and I didn’t know who I was rooming with. I went and checked in and they said Demetrius, so I was cool with that,” said Yeo. “We’re really good friends, we support each other on and off the floor, and I’m sure our relationship will continue to grow as we move on to bigger and better things.”
Jackson was the only defender who seemed to be able to keep Hawkins in front of him as Indiana threw various defenders at him to little avail as the Madison Central grad finished with a game-best 33 points on 10-of-19 shooting from the floor .
Davis recorded a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds on his way to game MVP honors, while Indiana Mr. Basketball Zak Irvin put up 16, and Bryson Scott finished with 14 points in a balanced effort for the home team.
“He’s just tough inside, a good defender, physical and very athletic,” said Heady of Davis. “He’s taking steps to improve on his perimeter game, and I know he will. With the way he goes on the inside, once he gets better on the perimeter he’s going to be a load. But more than anything he’s just a great young man, and I just like the way he competes.”
At Indianapolis
Halftime score: Indiana 42, Kentucky 34.
KENTUCKY (77): Dominique Hawkins 10-19 10-11 33, Ken-Jah Bosley 5-9 2-2 14, Rusty Troutman 2-9 1-1 6, Jack Whitman 0-2 0-0 0, Derek Willis 4-10 4-7 12, Tyler Jones 0-0 0-0 0, Devonte Grundy 2-4 0-0 5, Darryl Hicks 0-3 0-2 0, Stuart Jackson 1-4 0-0 2, Omar Prewitt 2-10 0-0 5; Totals: 26-70 17-23 77.
INDIANA (84): Zak Irvin 6-9 0-0 16, Bryson Scott 5-7 4-4 14, Devin Davis 8-16 3-6, 19, Collin Hartman 3-6 0-0 8, Demetrius Jackson 2-7 0-0 4, Michael Volovic 0-0 0-0 0, Mike Crawford 1-5 0-0 2, V.J. Beachem 3-4 1-2 9, Clay Yeo 1-3 0-0 2, Basil Smotherman 0-2 0-0 0, Blake Simmons 2-6 0-0 5, Michael Schlotman 0-0 0-0 0, Darius Latham 2-4 0-1 4; Totals: 33-69 8-13 84.
3-pointers: Kentucky 8 (Hawkins 3, Bosley 2, Troutman 1,Grundy 1, Prewitt 1), Indiana 10 (Irvin 4, Hartman 2, Beachem 2, Crawford 1, Simmons 1). Fouls (fouled out): Kentucky 13 (none), Indiana 24 (Davis, Jackson).