“They've got big guys and nationally ranked guys,” Thomas said of the Juniors. “I thought it would be more of a challenge.”
Thomas, who is the 2010 Indiana Mr. Basketball, and his classmates raced out to a 64-44 halftime lead and were never seriously threatened after the opening five minutes.
“I really wanted them to come out and compete,” Indiana All-Star coach Ron Hecklinski said. “I thought for an opening deal it was OK.”
Thomas closed his athletic career in this city with a flourish, as he scored a game-high 25 points and grabbed 15 rebounds. His final bucket came on a resounding dunk late in the second half.
“Usually (I shoot) threes,” Thomas laughed. “But with a dunk, it gets the crowd excited.”
The Juniors featured some of the biggest names in high school basketball anywhere in the nation. But you don't get points for having a reputation.
The younger squad consisted of Pike's Marquis Teague (Kentucky recruit), Washington's Cody Zeller, Muncie Central's Jeremiah Davis and Gary Wallace's Branden Dawson. The latter three are being recruited by some of the top college programs in the country.
Dawson paced the Juniors with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Davis chipped in 13 and Teague 10 points.
Also on the Junior team were Elmhurst's Antonio Wilson (four points, one rebound) and Carroll's Tyler Ault (two rebounds in 17 minutes).
Though the game featured the absolute best players in the state, it was clear during the opening introductions who the crowd's favorite son was, as it roared for Thomas.
“It's my home court,” Thomas said. “Every time I come into this gym I feel comfortable.”
The Indiana All-Stars played solid defense despite the game tempo being that of a typical all-star affair, but it was the prolific offense that left the Juniors behind quickly.
The seniors hit more over half their shots (45-89), including an astounding 26 of 29 from the free-throw line. Aside from Thomas' production, Terone Johnson (19 points, seven assists), Erik Fromm (12 points, 12 rebounds), Donnie Hale (10 points), Michael Harris (15 points), Neal Beshears (12 points), and Tyrae Robinson (11 points) also contributed.
“This is an all-star game,” Thomas said. “You're supposed to get other people involved.”
After another exhibition with the Juniors at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Rushville High School, the team will play the Kentucky All-Stars Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Bellarmine University and at 7 p.m. Saturday at Conseco Fieldhouse.
Online♦See video highlights from the boys game by News-Sentinel photographer Chad Ryan at www.news-sentinel.com.
♦Photos from the boys and girls All-Star game, Page 3S
Tip-off: Indiana All-Stars vs. Junior All-Stars, Wednesday at Rushville High School
Time: 6 p.m. (girls) and 8 p.m. (boys)