Semi-state girls basketball takes over Saturday local sports as these local teams look to punch their ticket to Gainbridge FieldHouse in Indianapolis for the girls basketball state finals. Each team has to win two games today to reach the state finals.
1A @ Frankfort
For the first time in program history, Bethany Christian is in semi-state for girls basketball as the Bruins look to make it to their first ever state finals for any sport at the school. In fact, you have to go back to the 2002 boys’ basketball (the Jim Buller Era) since the last time a Bethany Christian sports team made it this far.
Bethany, who’s already set a record for wins in a season with 22 looks to extend their winning ways. Junior Zoe Willems is coming off a strong regional game where she had 18 points, 12 boards, 5 assists, and 6 steals in the 38-30 win over Tri-County. Mariah Stoltzfus added 11 points, 6 boards, 4 assists, and 3 steals in that game as well.
This dynamic duo plus strong defense will have to be the case to make it out of Semistate with the golden ticket to Indy. Their first game will come against Washington Township, who needed overtime to knock off Bethany’s conference rival Argos 55-52.
The Senators scored 34 of their 55 points from Addison Graf and Gracie Little. This Senators squad went 9-13 from beyond the arc and added 30 rebounds in the process. Whoever can play better defense will make it to the nightcap of this Semistate.
Bethany should have a chance to play for a second game, but getting to state will be equally harder if Tri is the opponent that awaits. The Lady Titans are seen as heavy favorites to represent the North in the state finals, but they have never been to state before as a program.
Tri is led by the dynamic 6-foot power forward Bailey Parham who’s averaging 21 points, 10.5 boards, and 3.7 blocks per game.
I have Tri and Bethany Christian advancing to the title game. However, I have Bethany’s magical season end in a defeat to the Titans.
2A @ Logansport
Class 2A will have 25-2 Central Noble returning to Logansport, where they’ve played in every Semistate game at the Berry Bowl. However, this time they’ll get to play a school that won’t have to make a huge drive to get to the Berry Bowl: defending semistate champion Lafayette Central Catholic. LCC is looking to make it to the program’s second state finals as a 2A School and the fifth overall.
Generally a 1A school by enrollment, they are a 2A school due to success factor, and LCC is traditionally a small-school powerhouse from Boilermaker country. Central Catholic has the third highest odds in the entire state regardless of class to win a state championship with a 32.33% probability according to John Harrell. Only 4A South Bend Washington (45.28% probability) and 1A Lanesville (72.62% probability) having higher chances to win state.
This LCC team held off a resilient Bishop Luers squad 59-50 that had Addie Shank with 20 points and 20 boards to keep Luers within a striking chance. Don’t let LCC’s numbers fool you as they’ve played schools that are double or even triple of their size.
Kendal Rider rides the wave of success for this Knights’ squad. She had 14 points, 5 boards, 6 assists, a steal, and 2 blocks vs Bishop Luers. Despite giving up 46 rebounds to Luers, LCC grabbed 39 rebounds of their own with 10 (I repeat) 10 blocks against Luers.
However, LCC will have their hands full in the mighty Central Noble Lady Cougars who hold opponents to less than 32 points per game.
Maddison Vice (pictured above) had ice in her veins last Saturday. Vice had a career game at the Winamac regional where her 33 points and 14 rebounds led the way to a 64-52 win over a tough South Central Satellites program. But don’t leave out Meghan Kiebel, the career leader in career made threes, who had 13 points.
It’ll come down to three things: 1. Can the Cougars make enough shots when the pressure gets high…2. How will they generate second chance points off of offensive boards, and 3. Can they stay out of foul trouble long enough to play to their strengths against Central Catholic’s physicality?
While LCC is similar in ways of South Central, they have the athleticism to explode in a hurry.
As long as the Cougars can make baskets and win the battle in the boards, they’ll have a chance to play for a semistate championship tonight, where I forcast Andrean in the championship game. The Fighting 59ers have been known as a team that makes deep playoff runs, but this program has yet to reach Indianapolis for the state finals, unlike the boys team.
For Andrean, Tori Allen is the player to watch averaging 16.8 points per game as a true point guard. Lapel’s go-to player is Laniah Wills, a freshman power forward forward that averages 15.8 points and 12.6 boards. This other semifinal game is also a 50/50 split.
My forecast is leaning towards the winner of the LCC-CN game to likely get to Indianapolis. I have Central Noble with the highest probability among area teams to get to state. So, I expect the CN-LCC game to be closer than people think. But I’m leaning towards Lafayette Central Catholic in what should be a close game.
3A @ LaPorte
LaPorte is the site for one of the better Semistates in the state. Tippy Valley and Fairfield is the matchup of interest in this Semistate where both area teams will play each other for the right to play for a state championship game a week from now.
The Falcons have been in this stage before where they lost to Frankton 34-32 in last year’s 2A Semistate. Now at 28 wins, this is Fairfield’s best all-around team they’ve ever had as they look to clinch their first ever trip to the state finals for basketball. Despite a sluggish first half, Indiana Wesleyan commit Brea Garber took over the second half as her all-around game along with some senior toughness led the way to a regional championship. The x-factors in this Semistate are Morgan Gawthrop (11.1 points), the deep-ball of Bailey Willard, and Kaylee Dillon’s defense.
Standing their way is none other than Tippy Valley out of Kosciusko County. The Vikings are led by their sensational superstar whose heading to IU Kokomo next season Kaydence Mellott. Mellott is averaging 19.5 points, 5.4 boards, and is shooting 50% from three. In her career, she has recorded 1,439 career points cementing herself as one of the county’s most prolific scorers to ever live.
Valley is coming off a scrappy 67-54 win over heavily-favored Mishawaka Marian thanks to some scoring depth, shooting 42% from 3, and holding Marian to just 33% from the floor. If Valley is going to upset Fairfield, they’ll need one more dose of Mellott magic and tough defense to contain Garber, Willard, and Gawthrop. Rebounding is such a key stat to watch in this game.
While Hamilton Heights has Camryn Runner, I’ll be very surprised if we don’t see Twin Lakes in the night game of this Semistate. 27-0 Twin Lakes is seen as one of the biggest favorites to win a state championship. Their odds are 29.1% chance to win state by itself and a whopping 47% favorites to win this Semistate.
The Lady Indians are led by Olivia Nickerson who averages 18.7 points per game as a junior. Against Garrett, Twin Lakes shot 47% from the floor and grabbed 43 boards. They held Garrett to just 20% from the floor and 15 boards (Garrett averaged over 30 boards per game this season).
Fairfield and Tippy Valley is about as close as they come for a semifinal Semistate game. But I’m leaning towards Fairfield to get to the Final Four. However, I expect Twin Lakes to take their perfect season to the state finals.