By HANK LOWENKRON
AP Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS -- A new name will be added to the list of girls Class 3A basketball champions Saturday night.
Fifth-ranked Chatard (17-4) is in the title game for the first time. No. 9 Plymouth (15-4) is making its second appearance, seeking to improve on its runner-up finish of 2001.
Chatard, which hadn't advanced past the regional level of the tournament until this year, takes a 12-game winning streak into the game. The streak began following a 56-54 road loss to 4A finalist Carmel, the third consecutive setback for the Trojans.
"We played very well at Carmel. We were up by six points with about three minutes to go. At that particular time, we just didn't hit our free throws," coach Kevin Sweeney said. "There wasn't any panic from the players or the coaches. After that, we felt we were playing well and our defense was effective, so we just decided to go on."
The Trojans earned the trip to Conseco Fieldhouse with a 56-51 overtime semistate triumph over Vincennes.
Leaders on offense are seniors Anne Boese (20.4 ppg) and Caroline Schutzman (20.1), a 51 percent shooter who has hit nearly 40 percent of her 114 3-point attempts. Senior Megan Gardner (10.7) is the only other member of the team averaging over six points per game and leads the state in assists with 9.2 per game.
"Anne is very accomplished, very consistent, She's a quiet leader, very unselfish. She is a kid who has tremendous inner confidence," Sweeney said.
Chatard averages 39.8 rebounds per game, led by Schutzman with a 10.5 average.
"We can play a physical game. We like to get out and run. We like to apply pressure, but in the regional and semistate games we've shown that we can grind it out and play a half-court game," Sweeney said.
He believes the final outcome could be determined by how each team handles the hype of a state championship game and the overall atmosphere in Conseco.
"We need to make sure that we keep our tempo. They're very patient on offense. They've very disciplined. We need to take care of the ball, get out and run to get some easy baskets because they play great defense," he said.
Coach Dave Cox's Pilgrims feature balanced scoring and have held opponents to an average of 39 points per game. They received a trip to Conseco by defeating previously unbeaten and fourth-ranked Northwestern 54-49 for the regional championship and top-ranked Wawasee 45-43 in the semistate. The win over Wawasee avenged a 58-40 loss earlier in the season.
Junior Lyzz Smith leads the team in scoring with a 12.4 average, and four of her teammates average between 6.3 and 8.7 points.
"We're balanced, unlike Chatard," Cox said, "They're scary with those two girls scoring over 20 points and the team averaging over 65. I'm not sure we can score 65 down here. We're going to have to take away their dribble penetration inside. Hopefully, we can slow them down."
Saturday's championships begin with the Class A game between University (20-6) and Fort Wayne Canterbury (20-5). No. 2-ranked Oak Hill (26-0) battles two-time defending champion and top-ranked Heritage Christian (26-1) in the 2A showdown. The evening session begins with the Chatard-Plymouth game, followed by the 4A title game between defending champion South Bend Washington (23-2) and Carmel (22-4).
Indiana High School Girls Class 3A Season Results
By The Associated Press
|S. Bend St. Joseph's||W||51-44|
|S. Bend Washington||L||32-67|
|S. Bend St. Joseph's||W||42-32|
|S. Bend St. Joseph's||W||45-43|
INDIANAPOLIS CHATARD (23-4)
|Ft. Wayne Canterbury||W||54-50|
|Indpls Park Tudor||W||73-56|
|Indpls Broad Ripple||W||94-37|