TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) — Heritage Christian is known for its offense, yet it was defense that earned the Eagles their fifth state title.
The Eagles’ defense forced 13 turnovers, which they were able to convert into 18 points, and they limited third-ranked Fort Wayne Canterbury’s explosive offense to 33 percent shooting to win 64-61 in the 2A state title game Saturday and earn their first hoops championship since 2009.
Junior Sydney Hall led the Eagles’ balanced offensive attack with 17 point, 12 of which came during decisive second half, but it was younger sister Taylor Hall, a sophomore reserve who added 12 points, who put the Eagles (27-1) ahead for good at 31-29 with a jumper with 4:32 to play in the third quarter.
“She made some big shots,” her older sister said.
Sydney Hall drilled a 3-pointer from the left wing early in the fourth quarter to stretch the lead to nine, the Eagles’ largest lead of the game.
“It’s just kind of like a boxing match there’s just different points in time when you get hit and you have got to react to that,” Heritage Christian coach Rick Risinger said.
Canterbury coach Wayne Kreiger said Heritage Christian’s defense surprised his team.
“Traditionally they have played man-to-man,” he said. “We didn’t anticipate zone, but it doesn’t mean we hadn’t prepared for zone. That probably was the biggest thing.”
Tyasha Harris added 14 points for Heritage Christian and also had seven assists.
State basketball titles are nothing new for Heritage Christian, which won four consecutive 2A titles from 2006-09. Their fifth championship ties them for second all-time in Indiana girls’ basketball history, one behind Fort Wayne Bishop Luers. Risinger coached more championship winning teams in state history, having led the Eagles to all five.
Risinger said the Eagles were trying to extend the lead to 10 points, but they couldn’t do it. The Cavaliers (20-5) pulled within two multiple times, but couldn’t get any closer.
“Basketball is a game of runs,” Canterbury’s Darby Maggard said. “I thought we came back from their runs really well, we just did not have enough time.”
Canterbury senior Kindell Fincher, who is committed to play basketball at Xavier University, scored 11 of her game-high 24 points over the final seven minutes of play.
Heritage Christian’s Natalie Orr was awarded the Patricia L. Roy Mental Attitude Award.
“I would not trade my time with these girls for anything,” she said. “It has definitely one of the greatest experiences of my life.”