Now, let’s take a look at Class 4A as the other two remaining SAC teams look to find their place in the newly formatted 4A Semistate. Both teams went through the gauntlet of the regular season, as well as two very difficult sectionals. Now, they’ve set themselves up to make a run in regional play.
Homestead (19-5) vs Fishers (23-2) @ Marion
For this matchup, we have a unique storyline between the traditionally strong Homestead Spartans vs the up and coming Fishers Lady Tigers.
Despite the history of championship glory, many of these Lady Spartans are in their first go around in regional play. Despite being seen as the underdogs all season long, they defeated Columbia City, Wayne, and Huntington North to put themselves in a position to win their first regional since winning state in 2017. It’s a huge hurdle to overcome as they’ll face a Fishers team that is only playing in their third ever regional for the program.
As a matter of fact, this is Fishers’ second ever regional championship game (the first since 2014) after upsetting Noblesville in 2OT 67-64 and winning the sectional 58-44 over the host Hamilton Southeastern.
Fishers is a team-by-committee when it comes to the way they play their basketball led by senior Hailey Smith who averages 11.6 points, 6.8 boards, and 2.7 assists per game. Defensively, they’ve held teams to 45.9 points in a conference that is seen as one of the best in the state of Indiana. Keep in mind that this team beat Noblesville AND Hamilton Southeastern (twice). This is not a fluke run to get to this point, and they’re poised to win their first ever regional.
For Homestead, it’s a team with solid seniors, but most certainly a strong freshman class. Senior Molly Stock is the prototypical Spartan shooting guard that has strong shooting sense and is clutch from the FT line. Ali Stephens, the future Omaha Lady Maverick, is strong as a ox and as poised as they come in the small forward slot for this senior class. Throughout sectional play, Stephens was a kid that led the offense by example in many ways, whether it’s as a shooter or as as a distributor.
Emma Reust one of the 260’s toughest defenders that will be tasked to guard a talented Fishers squad with multiple scorers. Whitney Ankenbruck and Gabby Helsom, two promising freshmen, that will be tasked to perform well beyond their age. And of course, the next great Homestead player in freshman Myah Epps. Ice in her veins, walking bucket, and a baller with a source of wizardry with the ball.
And trust me, this is a Rod Parker basketball team…they’re not backing down today or next week or ever. They never stop playing hard. Despite the quality of this Fishers program, I see Homestead continue their winning ways into Semistate.
Homestead by 1
Snider (20-4) vs Harrison (West Lafayette) (16-9) @ Marion
The night Game of this Marion regional will showcase the red hot Snider Panthers and the Harrison Raiders. It’s a battle between offense vs defense in the way this game tells us today.
The Snider Lady Panthers haven’t missed a beat since starting the season 2-2. Any doubt shouldn’t be the case anymore, because Reggie Tharp’s Panthers are in position to win their first regional in a dozen years. This Panthers team has won 18 of their last 20 games and it’s a team that is on a mission these days.
Arguably the most talented player remaining in the entire 4A state tournament, junior Jordyn Poole quarterbacks the offense averaging 15.8 points, 4 assists, and shooting 42% from h three. Jordyn Poole is a special talent, one that showcases brilliance and stardom all in one player…a kid with the complete package of a combo guard, and one that has the desire to be the best.
One of the most underrated players in the entire state, Nae Nae Donahue is cash money in the bank! Averaging 12.4 points, 4 assists, 4.5 boards, 5.7 steals and shooting 49% from the floor. Nae Nae is seen as one of the best shut down defenders representing the 260, and man she is so good at shutting down the best talent out there.
Poole and Donahue were clutch against Carroll in the sectional championship scoring 44 of their 58 points, both shooting over 40% from the floor, and combining for 13 boards, 4 assists, and 10 steals.
Gabriella Barnes had a monster game on the glass against Carroll grabbing seven rebounds, and don’t leave out Tia Phinezy and Ciara Sims. Sims never brought a dimmer of doubt into this team, especially that night dropping seven crucial points and a team-best eight rebounds.
Now, can the Panthers continue their winning ways against a scrappy Harrison program? The Harrison Raiders are playing in their first regional game since way back in 1986, when they won a regional title in the single-class state tournament. Boy there have been a lot of changes since 1986
This Raiders team definitely wins games through defense. In sectional play, they held Logansport and Kokomo below 35 points in both sectional games while the Raiders dropped 49 and 46 in both matchups. This is a Raiders team that, when they hold teams to less than 45 points, is 11-0. The issue is Harrison has yet to play a team as explosive and athletically talented as Snider is.
But what Harrison will have going for them is their duo of talented girls. Senior 3-and-D player Riley Finn leads the Raiders in scoring averaging 14.2 points, 8.2 boards, 5 steals, and shooting 32% from three.
6’0 junior Riley Whitlock is averaging 12.2 points, 4.8 boards, and 2.3 steals on 53% shooting from the floor. Harrison as a team shoots 41% from the floor but 47% from the two. Rebounding wise, they average 35.6 boards per game, with 18 of their games coming with double-figures on the offensive glass.
The big challenge with Snider is being able to get the shots they want from the perimeter and being able to use their athleticism and speed to create holes and attack the paint. They’re going to want to draw fouls, get to the line, and really establish an up-tempo style of play. If Snider can force some turnovers and create points in transition, that’s going to be a key portion in containing their size and physicality that the Raiders will try to establish in this game.
The concern I have with a matchup against a team that has a contrasting style of basketball is being able to take care of the basketball. At this time of the year, every possession matters much more, and mistakes are such a difference maker between winning and losing.
On paper, Snider should win this game..however, Harrison is here for a reason, and it’s a Lafayette school. Those schools tend to hang around once they get to this portion of the state tournament.
I predict Snider to win this regional, but it might be ugly at first.
Snider by 6
Northridge by 2 over Lake Central @ LaPorte