TERRE HAUTE —
For the second time in as many years, Hulman Center will be the site for the Indiana High School Athletic Association state finals for girls basketball Saturday, starting with the Class A game at 10:30 a.m.
No. 1-ranked Fort Wayne Canterbury (24-3) will tangle with fourth-ranked Vincennes Rivet (22-4) in that matchup. The Fort Wayne school is no stranger to winning Class A championships, having done so in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012.
The one time in the last four years that the Cavaliers did not win it, 2011, Vincennes Rivet did.
Canterbury is coached by Wayne Kreiger and led on the court by 5-foot-10 junior forward Kindell Fincher (averaging 18.7 points and 10.7 rebounds per game), 5-10 senior forward Bailey Farley (18.1 ppg) and 5-5 sophomore guard Darby Maggard (17.8 ppg).
Meanwhile, Rivet is coached by Tim Young and led by 5-9 senior forward Allyson Wehrheim (10.9 ppg) and 5-4 junior guard Bailey Dreiman (10.7 ppg).
In Saturday’s Class 2A title clash, No. 1-ranked Evansville Mater Dei (27-2) will tangle with 24-3 Eastern (Greentown), tied for sixth in the final state rankings, at approximately 12:45 p.m.
Defending state champion Mater Dei, guided by coach Steve Goans, gets the bulk of its production from 5-11 junior guard/forward Maura Muensterman (23.2 ppg) and 6-2 sophomore frontliner Tori Schickel (19.4 points and 10.5 rebounds per contest).
Eastern, coached by Jeremy Dexter, counters with 5-7 senior guards Brittany Neeley (19.2 ppg and 8.9 rpg) and Bethany Neeley (15.5 ppg and 11.5 rpg). This is the Comets’ first appearance in a state championship game.
“We have really played to our strengths and roles,” Dexter told the Tribune-Star in an email this week. “Our kids are playing together as a fist on both ends of the floor and have specifically been locked in together on the defensive end of the floor, which has allowed us numerous offensive opportunities.”
After a break between daytime and evening sessions, No. 2-ranked Hamilton Heights (23-2) will take on sixth-ranked Mount Vernon (Fortville) (22-4) at 6 p.m.
Top scorers for Hamilton Heights, coached by Tod Windlan, are 5-5 senior guard Dakota Weatherford (19.8 ppg) and 5-5 junior guard Hailey Cook (16.9 ppg). This is the Huskies’ first appearance in a state championship game.
Mount Vernon, coached by Julie Shelton, receives 17.8 ppg from 6-1 junior forward Erica Moore and 17.8 ppg from 5-8 freshman guard Sydney Shelton, the coach’s niece.
Mount Vernon finished as state runner-up in 1977 (before the class system) and 2012 (Class 3A).
“We play extremely well together and are very unselfish,” Windlan said of his Hamilton Heights players. “All five starters have scored 20 or more points in a game. We shoot the ball well and have played good pressure defense, which leads to easy transition baskets.”
“Hamilton Heights has five good 3-point shooters and seven players that can score,” coach Shelton noted from the Mount Vernon perspective. ”They have a lot of very good quick guards who play at a fast pace and pressure defend very well.”
The final showdown — pitting No. 2-ranked Bedford North Lawrence (27-0) vs. 11th-ranked Fort Wayne South Side (24-3) for the Class 4A crown — will tip off at approximately 8:15.
BNL, which captured pre-class girls state titles in 1983 and 1991, is coached by Kurt Godlevske. The Stars rely heavily on 6-2 sophomore forward Dominique McBryde (14.6 ppg) and 6-3 sophomore center Jenna Allen (14.3 ppg).
Fort Wayne South Side, which has never played for a state championship in girls basketball, is coached by Juanita Goodwell and paced by 5-11 senior center Ariana Simmons (14.1 ppg).
“We have played together and stuck together,” Godlevske emphasized about his BNL squad. “Each one of them has been unselfish yet made big individual plays. Our ability to make in-game adjustments with this group because of their basketball IQ is off the charts.”