May 1—Apollo High School’s Amber Dunn is no stranger to winning at the Owensboro Sportscenter, and she’s hoping to keep that streak going for at least one more game.
The last time the 5-foot-10, do-it-all senior wing played at the Sportscenter, she helped the E-Gals capture 9th District and 3rd Region tournament titles — capping it off with a 28-point, nine-rebound performance in Apollo’s 52-37 win over Meade County in the regional championship game on April 8.
Nearly two months later, she’ll step onto that same floor as a Kentucky All-Star.
“I’m really excited and honored that I was chosen to be on the team,” said Dunn, who was picked by the Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches to represent the commonwealth, “and I’m excited that we’re going to play at the Sportscenter, as well — in my hometown.”
The annual Kentucky/Indiana All-Star Game, which pits 13 of the best high school seniors from each state against one another in a two-game series, will be played at the Sportscenter on June 11 and at Southport High School in Indianapolis on June 12.
In the meantime, Dunn hasn’t taken much time off since the basketball season ended — putting work in each day on individual drills and shooting exercises. She’ll spend her Saturdays in May traveling to practice with the rest of the team at Transylvania University in Lexington.
Her motivation for the next month is simple.
“I really just want to beat Indiana,” she said, with a laugh. “That’s the main goal. Hopefully, we can pull off the win against them.
“I’m just going to try to make all the hustle plays and rebound and play good defense.”
It’s that mental approach, E-Gals coach Natalie Payne said, that attracted the KABC committee to choose Dunn in the first place.
“She can do so many things on the court like defending and rebounding,” Payne said, “and she can score in a variety of ways, too. She can hit the open 3, she can get to the rim, she can play inside or outside. She’s so versatile, so I think that’s one thing that stood out about her.”
This past season, Dunn scored 8.5 points and grabbed 4.4 rebounds per outing in 14 games — hampered most of the season by a severe ankle injury. She still shot a team-high 53.2% from the field and 81.1% at the free-throw line, though. In the postseason, Dunn pushed her contributions to 11.2 points and 6.5 boards per contest.
As a junior, Dunn averaged a double-double with 11.1 points and 10.7 rebounds per game.
“It’s extremely special,” Payne said of Dunn’s selection. “She’s gone through a lot of adversity this year, with her ankle injury and COVID and all the interruptions with the season. For her to come back and finish really strong for the team and to make the roster for the Kentucky All-Stars, it’s just amazing.
“It’s an elite group of kids, so I’m really happy for her.”
Payne, after all, knows a thing or two about playing in the Kentucky/Indiana All-Star Game.
“I think the biggest thing is she has to go into this situation like a sponge and want to learn and grow from this elite group of players and coaches,” said Payne, who starred at Apollo and played in the 1997 iteration of the competition.
“She’s such a good teammate and always sacrifices for the team anyway, but going in, I know that’s going to be a strength and asset for her. She’s a kid that just wants to win, and she’s very competitive.”
Though Dunn hasn’t yet signed with a college, she does have intentions to play at the next level — and she’s hoping to open some eyes in the next several weeks.
And, she added, she gets one more chance to represent Apollo High School on the big stage.
“I’m excited to represent our school,” she said. “I’ve always dreamed of playing in this game, so to finally be in it is going to be fun.
“I’m thankful for my coaches who put in so much time to help me improve my game in the offseason, this year especially, and my teammates who pushed me every day in practice.”