By HANK LOWENKRON
AP Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS -- The University Trailblazers are a win away from a state championship trophy. Not bad for a school of 175 students in its third year of Indiana girls tournament eligibility.
The unranked Carmel college prepatory school's team goes into Saturday's Class A final at Conseco Fieldhouse at 20-6 after winning its first sectional, regional and semistate championship with just one senior on the team. Standing in the way is ninth-ranked Fort Wayne Canterbury (20-5), which brings a 13-game winning streak into the title game.
University coach Bill Thornburgh isn't surprised to see his team on the doorstep of a championship.
"At the beginning of the season when I told them (playing) March 1 was a possibility, I'm not sure if they were on the same page as me," he said. "Since we made this run through the tournament they've really started to believe in themselves."
The backcourt has produced nearly half the team's 71-point per game scoring average with junior Katie Adlam averaging 16.5 points and sophomore Bria Sneed leading the team at 16.7. Junior forward Brittney Williams, the leading rebounder at 7.4 per game, averages 8.4 points.
The defense is also formidable, holding 21 of 26 opponents to 50 points or fewer.
The team's only senior is Katie Moore, a 6-foot-1 center, who has adjusted to being a reserve after starting the last three seasons.
"She's enjoying the ride. Things have definitely changed since her first year in the program," Thornburgh said. "We have a lot of weapons, a lot of possible scorers and we have great defenders."
Canterbury also brings a young squad to its first appearance in the state finals. The Cavaliers start one senior, three sophomores and a freshman. Sophomore forward Tabitha Gerardot is the team's top scorer (18.2) and rebounder (10.8), hitting on over 52 percent of her shots.
"Tabitha is a strong player inside and out," coach Scott Kreiger said.
Senior guard Aubry Holle averages 14.4 and sophomore forward Cassie Kreiger averaged 10.5 while shooting over 51 percent from the field.
"Aubry is a great penetrator, an excellent free throw shooter and Cassie likes to slice to the basket," Kreiger said of his daughter. "Everybody has their own strengths and pick up on the opportunities, no matter what the other team is doing."
"They like to push the ball, play pressure defense and will try to come out and take it to us," Thornburgh said of Canterbury. "We need to maintain our composure, keep the nerves down. If we play good pressure defense like we have been, make good decisions offensively, I think we'll be fine. We're playing our best ball of the season right now."
The Cavaliers haven't lost since Jan. 5 when it dropped a 65-58 road game against Class 4A finalist Carmel. Class 3A finalist Indianapolis Chatard also defeated Canterbury, 54-50, in December.
"We front-loaded our schedule with some really good teams," Kreiger said. "Then in the second half we started getting ready for the tournament. Once we got past Carmel, I thought we could run the table. The kids have delivered."
University and Canterbury are among four schools to reach the finals of the girls tournament for the first time this year.
In 2A, Oak Hill (26-0) makes its first trip to Conseco to play two-time defending champion Heritage Christian (26-1). Chatard (23-4) makes its state finals debut in girls basketball against Plymouth (21-4) for 3A honors and defending 4A champion and 2nd-ranked South Bend Washington (23-2) battles No. 5 Carmel for 4A honors in the day's final game.
By The Associated Press
What--The 33rd Indiana High School Athletic Association girls state basketball championships.
When--Saturday, two sessions starting 10:30 a.m. (Class A and 2A) and 6 p.m. (Class 3A and 4A). All times EST.
Where--Conseco Fieldhouse, Indianapolis.
Pairings--Class A, Fort Wayne Canterbury (20-5) vs. University (20-6); Class 2A, Oak Hill (26-0) vs. Heritage Christian (26-1); Class 3A, Plymouth (21-4) vs. Indianapolis Chatard (23-4); Class 4A, South Bend Washington (23-2) vs. Carmel (22-4).
SOUTH BEND WASHINGTON (23-2)
Coach--Marilyn Coddens. Conference--Northern Indiana. Nickname--Panthers. Colors--Kelly Green and White. State Ranking--No. 2. Previous Championship--2007. Previous runner-up--2006. Probable starters--Emily Phillips, 5-4, Sr., 7.7 ppg; Skylar Diggins, 5-9, Jr., 29.7; Meagan Phillips, 5-6, Sr., 6.0 ppg; Shalana Murray, 5-11, Sr., 6.2 ppg; Takoia Larry, 5-10, Jr., 10.9 ppg.
Coach--Scott Bowen. Conference--Metropolitan. Nickname--Greyhounds. Colors--Royal Bule and Gold. State Ranking--No. 5. Previous Championship--None. Previous runner-up--1995. Probable starters--Torrie Thornton, 6-0, Fr., 7.1 ppg; Maggie Byrne, 5-3, Jr., 2.2 ppg; Ashlee Spearman, 5-10, Sr., 6.1 ppg; Chrissy Steffen, 5-11, Jr., 19.0 ppg; Danielle Havel, 6-0, Sr., 11.8 ppg.
Coach--Dave Cox. Conference--Northern Lakes. Nickname--Pilgrims. Colors--Crimson and White. State Ranking--No. 9. Previous Championship--None. Previous runner-up--2001. Probable starters--Leslie Swihart, 5-6, Sr., 6.3 ppg; Jessica McMillen, 5-5, Sr., 3.1 ppg; Marisa Green, 5-11, Fr., 1.8 ppg; Jessica Centa, 5-8, Sr., 8.7 ppg; Brittany Payne, 5-11, Sr., 7.5 ppg.
INDIANAPOLIS CHATARD (23-4)
Coach--Kevin Sweeney. Conference--Independent. Nickname--Trojans. Colors--Royal Blue and White. State Ranking--No. 5. Previous Championship--None. Previous runner-up--None. Probable starters--Caroline Schutzman, 5-11, Sr., 20.1 ppg; Megan Gardner, 5-11, Sr., 10.7 ppg; Rachel Kimack, 5-7, So., 3.3 ppg; Kourtney Crawford, 5-9, Jr., 5.1 ppg; Anne Boese, 5-11, Sr., 20.4 ppg.
OAK HILL (26-0)
Coach--Todd Law. Conference--Central Indiana. Nickname--Golden Eagles. Colors--Navy and Vegas Gold. State Ranking--No. 2. Previous Championship--None. Previous runner-up--None. Probable starters--Courtney Moses, 5-7, So., 14.9 ppg; Lauren Meese, 5-6, Jr., 10.8 ppg; Heather Hicks, 5-8, Sr., 6.5 ppg; Kristen Hicks, 5-10, Jr., 12.5 ppg; Ashley Pickering, 6-4, So., 14.3 ppg.
HERITAGE CHRISTIAN (25-3)
Coach--Rick Risinger. Conference--Independent. Nickname--Eagles. Colors--Royal Blue and White. State Ranking--No. 1. Previous Championship--2006, 2007. Previous runner-up--2004. Probable starters--Claire Freeman, 5-9, Jr., 10.3 ppg; Emily Anderson, 5-9, Jr., 10.9 ppg; Kelly Faris, 5-11, Jr., 11.8 ppg; Kaycee Jones, 5-7, So., 7.0 ppg; Liz Stratman, 6-1, Fr., 13.3 ppg.
FORT WAYNE CANTERBURY (20-5)
Coach--Scott Kreiger. Conference--Independent. Nickname--Cavaliers. Colors--Royal Blue and White. State Ranking--No. 9. Previous Championship--None. Previous runner-up--None. Probable starters--Aubrey Holle, 5-4, Sr., 14.4 ppg; Paige Wells, 5-6, So., 4.3 ppg; Becky Pedro, 5-9, Fr., 5.6 ppg; Cassie Kreiger, 5-7, So., 10.5 ppg; Tabitha Gerardot, 5-11, So., 18.2 ppg.
Coach--Bill Thornburgh. Conference--Independent. Nickname--Trailblazers. Colors--Blue, White and Gold. State Ranking--Unranked. Previous Championship--None. Previous runner-up--None. Probable starters--Katie adlam, 5-7, Jr., 16.5 ppg; Ieysha Walker, 5-8, Jr., 3.6 ppg; Brittney Williams, 5-8, Jr., 8.4 ppg; Bria Sneed, 5-3, So., 16.7 ppg; Amy Strawbridge, 5-10, So., 2.5 ppg.
Indiana High School Girls Basketball Championship Matchups
By The Associated Press