North freshman helps team to title

Columbus North freshman Blake Barker said the speed and athleticism on the court is at a much higher level than in travel basketball than high school play.

That didn’t stop Barker’s Indiana Stars 15U team from winning the Big Foot Hoops Las Vegas National Tournament earlier this month. The Indiana Stars ran the table, winning all eight games.

Barker had a solid shooting performance to help his team come out victorious. He averaged five to six 3-pointers a game, shot well from the free-throw line and had several steals.

Damon Bailey, the all-time leading scorer in Indiana high school boys basketball, coaches the Indiana Stars, with Barker’s father Lance as the assistant. Lance Barker said playing AAU basketball has been good for his son, as it was for him growing up.

“That’s one of the main reasons I’m so involved in it,” Lance said. “It was such a good experience for me. I want him to have a good experience, too.”

Blake, who played high school basketball for Columbus Christian as an eighth-grader, said playing in travel tournaments has helped him develop his skills playing against some of the top athletes.

“The athleticism that I go up against really helps me because I’m smaller than some of the other kids I play against,” Blake said. “So I have to have a quicker release on my shot, I have to rebound and work on my athleticism from a jumping standpoint.”

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Frank Bonner is a sports writer for The Republic. He can be reached at fbonner@therepublic.com or 812-379-5632.