HIGHLAND – When the Lady McLegends step on the Highland High School basketball court May 2 for their highly-anticipated matchup against the area’s High School Senior All-Stars in McLegends XII, spectators should make sure their cameras are clicking.
Never before have so many Northwest Indiana women’s basketball legends been together at the same time.
When head coach Chris Huppenthal, a three-time winner of The Times Coach of the Year award during his Highland days, makes out his starting lineup, imagine putting past Highland stars Jenny and Julie DeMuth along with Melissa Dawson, on the court with Valpo’s Cassie Kerns and Wheeler’s Becca Bruszewski.
That’s big problems for the High School All-Stars.
Jenny DeMuth, who set Highland scoring records while winning back-to-back Times Player of the Year honors in 2000 and 2001, went on to be the eighth all-time scorer in Indiana University history.
Sister Julie was the area’s top player in 2003 before moving to Merrillville High for a terrific senior season. She then starred at Ball State.
Dawson was the face of Highland girls basketball in the 1980s, setting scoring records that wouldn’t be broken until Jenny DeMuth arrived. Dawson then had an outstanding college career at Tennessee Martin. A 1987 Highland graduate, Melissa is the game’s oldest player at age 44.
When it comes to reaching great heights in college, Kerns and Bruszewski know the feeling. A two-time winner of the Times Player of the Year award, Kerns enjoyed a great career at Connecticut where she was part of a 39-0 national title team in 2009. Bruszewski, the area’s top player in 2007, played at Notre Dame and was part of a Fighting Irish team that finished second in the NCAA finals.
The High School All-Stars won’t receive much relief when they look at the Lady McLegends bench.
Huppenthal, who now coaches at Hamilton Southeastern, will be able to choose from past Highland stars Liz Stapke (2008), Courtney Condes (2001), Rina Molina (2000) and Lyndee Arnold (2003).
If he needs scoring help, he can turn to two Grace College graduates, Tracie Mezera (2000 River Forest) and Juaneice Jackson (2010 Calumet). After being the all-time leading scorer at River Forest, Mezera, the current head coach at Highland, reached the same level at Grace. That’s until Jackson broke it this past season.
Then there’s Cena Nasiloski, who starred at Hammond in 2006 and at Lincoln Memorial; Marian Smith, a standout at Hammond in 2004 and Purdue Calumet; and Linsey Smith (2004 Lake Central and Purdue Calumet).
Lastly, there’s Roslyn Turner, who prepped at Bloom Trail and played college ball at Purdue Calumet. In the last seven McLegends games, she has averaged 19 points.
So, how will Ray “Skeeter” Heath, who recently guided the LaPorte girls team to a 20-3 record in his final coaching season, deal with this challenge?
Well, it would help if his assistant coach wasn’t injured. LaPorte’s Jaclyn Heath, The Times Player of the Year, will be on the bench with her father.
The All-Stars will be led by Hobart’s Grayce Roach, Morgan Township’s Trina Coleman, Chesterton’s Caroline Puntillo, Highland’s Brianna Williams and Marian’s Catholic’s Ashton Millender, the latter The Times’ Illinois Player of the Year after leading the Spartans to a third-place state finish.
Crete-Monee’s Ashley Henry also comes across to Indiana to join Whiting’s Cici Lopez, Andrean’s Lauren Stazinski and Brenna Boyle, Valparaiso’s Kristina Veljovic, Crown Point’s Katija Veljovic, Bishop Noll’s Asya Hobbs, Lake Station’s Joanna Dwyer and Hamilton Southeastern’s Kalee Huppenthal.
Game time is 6 p.m. Tickets are $10 and are on sale at Highland High School (9135 Erie Street) and at three Highland McDonald’s locations.
After the Lady McLegends and Girls All-Stars put on their show, and men and boys play in the same format at 2 p.m. on May 3.
This two-day, one-of-a-kind event is sponsored by McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, The Times and adidas. Proceeds from the two games will go to Ronald McDonald Charities and Highland High School.
Entertaining the crowds on both days will be the world-famous Jesse White Tumblers and McDonald’s characters Ronald McDonald, Hamburglar, Early Birdie and Grimace. McLegends fans will be eligible for door prizes that will be drawn during the two basketball games.
McLegends has been staged for the past 11 years at various high school sites in the southeast suburbs of Illinois. This is the first McLegends event to be contested in Indiana.