By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
---- — GREENFIELD — Aaron Korn can't remember the last time he wasn't on the court at the start of a basketball game before Friday night.
But for the Indiana Junior All-Stars, he was happy to make the sacrifice.
The Frankton star was the picture of efficiency against rival Kentucky, scoring 12 points in about 12 minutes of playing time and finishing as one of four Indiana players in double figures during a thrilling 108-102 overtime victory to kick off the annual series.
"These are some of the best players in Indiana," Korn said afterward, munching on a slice of postgame pizza. "It was an honor to be a part of it. Just to be on this team is awesome."
Korn won't make the trip with his teammates today to finish off the home-and-home series against Kentucky in Louisville, but he will take the court again with them next Wednesday in Tipton against the Indiana Senior All-Stars.
"Hopefully, we can win that one, too," he said.
Korn checked into Friday's game at Greenfield-Central High School for the first time with 15:39 remaining in the first half and Indiana trailing 10-4. He made an instant impact with four quick points and a steal off a deflection. He could have added an assist to that total, but a quick-thinking Kentucky defender knocked the ball away from his target as he was rising to shoot.
It was a fast start and the continuation of a strong offseason that has helped the 6-foot-4 shooting guard open eyes across the state.
"There's a lot of people who he's caught the attention of, especially in the last few months," Frankton coach Brent Brobston, attending the game as a fan, said. "He just has to make the decision that's best for him."
Korn has been receiving interest from a host of NCAA Div. I programs, but he remains undecided on his college choice. He said earlier this spring that he'd like to make a call before school starts in August so he can focus solely on his senior year with the Eagles.
If he keeps playing the way he did against Kentucky, his options only will expand.
Korn's 12 points came on 5-of-9 shooting, and he was 2-for-3 from 3-point range. His first trifecta cut Kentucky's lead to 31-27 with a little under five minutes left in the first half, and his second pulled Indiana within 75-71 with 8:05 remaining in the game.
He also had two rebounds, a steal, an assist and a blocked shot.
"That's one of the good characteristics of his game," Brobston said. "He's an all-around player, and he's an all-around team player. He does a lot of things for us at the high school level."
While Korn was instrumental in keeping Kentucky within hailing distance, he wasn't on the court for many of the late-game theatrics.
Indiana's only lead of the first half came on a 3-pointer by Mount Vernon's C.J. Coleman to make it 20-19 at the 9:04 mark. Kentucky led the rest of the way until Fort Wayne Concordia's D.J. McCall capped a fastbreak with a dunk with 5:25 to go.
That gave Indiana, which had trailed 71-60 minutes earlier, a short-lived 82-81 advantage. There were five more lead changes and two ties to go.
Kentucky's Kelan Martin forced overtime with a 3-pointer that knotted the score 90-90 with 6.8 seconds to play, but Indiana opened the extra session with five straight points to regain control.
When Arsenal Tech's Trey Lyles made a block on the defensive end and incoming Marion senior James Blackmon Jr. turned it into a 3-pointer at the other end, Indiana led 102-96 with 1:29 to play and the game was essentially over.
"I was hoping for that victory," Korn said, "but I wasn't so sure when were down 10 in the second half."
Blackmon, who will be among the leading candidates for Indiana's Mr. Basketball award next fall, led the way with 27 points. Park Tudor's Trevon Bluiett added 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Greensburg's Bryant McIntosh finished with 10 points.
Chris Cunningham, a late addition to Kentucky's roster, led the visitors with 20 points.
Korn has made the most of his time with the All-Stars so far, and he's looking ahead to next week's game against the Seniors.
"These are great guys," he said. "Everybody gets along. Everybody's great."