GBB MARION COUNTY: 4A #7 Lawrence North wins second title
December 11, 2012By E. Shawn Aylsworth of Hoosier Authority
By E. Shawn Aylsworth
INDIANAPOLIS – Class 4A seventh-ranked Lawrence North entered the 39th Annual Marion County Tournament as the favorite, and the Wildcats lived up to that billing by ousting four opponents – including five-time defending County champion Ben Davis – in five days Dec. 4-8 to capture the school’s second-ever crown.
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LN (7-1) opened first-round play at home Dec. 4 against Perry Meridian. As usual, the Wildcats’ frenetic full-court defensive pressure was key as first-year coach Chris Giffin’s girls turned up the heat all over the floor in a 78-45 victory.
The Wildcats were particularly ferocious in the first and third quarters, when they outscored Perry by 24-10 and 26-10 margins. The latter spurt gave the ‘Cats a monstrous 66-34 lead heading to the fourth, allowing Giffin to rest his regulars for the quarterfinal battle with Franklin Central two night later.
Sophomore Amani Ferguson led the charge offensively with 17 points (including five 3-pointers), while senior Mikale Rogers added 16 and sophomore Lamina Cooper scored 10 as Lawrence North finished with 33 field goals to just 15 buckets for the visitors.
Perry Meridian junior Cassie Baird paced 27th-year coach Mike Armstrong’s Falcons (2-5) with 16 points, while senior Katie Kelly hit four threes for 12 points.
The LN starters would need that extra rest Dec. 6 in a low-scoring battle at Franklin Central, where LN rallied in the fourth quarter for a 39-36 victory.
The Wildcats led just 6-4 after one period and 15-14 at the half before the Flashes (5-2) piled up 15 points in the third to take a 29-27 lead down the stretch. But the LN defense rose to the occasion once again, limiting Franklin Central – whose only losses have come at 4A defending state runner-up No. 2 Columbus North (43-42 on Nov. 16), and against LN – to just seven points in the decisive quarter while scoring an even dozen to escape.
That win sent the Wildcats into the Dec. 8 semifinals at Speedway, where LN faced a rematch with a Ben Davis team it had rolled over at home, 78-29, just nine days earlier.
The outcome was a little closer this time around as LN fought through another low-scoring affair to oust the Giants (3-4) by a score of 40-25. Rogers led the way with 12 points.
A third win in approximately 88 hours set up a championship match against surprising 4A No. 19 Roncalli, which had upset 4A 14th-ranked Pike, 45-44, on a 3-pointer with five seconds left in the second semifinal by 6-foot freshman Lindsay Corsaro.
Ironically, three points again played a decisive role as 5’2” freshman guard Lauren Dickerson hit three free throws in the last 25 seconds of the title tilt to lift Lawrence North to the tile, 47-43.
“That girl is as tough a girl as they come and competitive as they come," Giffin told indystar.com. “To make the foul shots she made and the pass fakes she made to free up shots against the zone …
“Little Lauren, Amani Ferguson and Lamina Cooper were our MVPs.”
Ferguson hit three – there’s that number again – of her four 3-pointers in the first half en route to a team-high 12 points, while Cooper had seven points and eight rebounds.
Lawrence North went into a stall with just over six minutes to play and a 43-37 lead, but 6’2” senior Bridget Perry – a Purdue commit -- scored four straight points to cut the deficit to just two for Roncalli (7-1).
Dickerson’s free throws then sealed the deal for the Wildcats, whose only other County crown came in the 2006-07 season under former coach (and 1985 Miss Basketball at Austin) Jodie Whitaker.
“I was proud of how our girls fought through fatigue and competed,” first-year Roncalli coach April McDivitt Schilling told indystar.com. “At the end it was a two-possession game, and we'll learn from it.
“We get to see them again (at home Dec. 18), and then we're in the same sectional (4A Sectional 10 at Lawrence Central). So we got a few more chances.”
39TH ANNUAL MARION COUNTY TOURNAMENT
First round (Dec. 4)
Speedway 58, Beech Grove 39
4A #14 Pike 49, Lawrence Central 39
4A #19 Roncalli 54, Indianapolis Lutheran 20
Decatur Central 55, Park Tudor 40
Brebeuf Jesuit 42, Warren Central 39 (OT)
Ben Davis 35, North Central (Indianapolis) 34
4A #7 Lawrence North 78, Perry Meridian 45
Franklin Central 58, Southport 51
Quarterfinals (Dec. 6)
4A #14 Pike 73, Speedway 42
4A #19 Roncalli 61, Decatur Central 35
Ben Davis 49, Brebeuf Jesuit 44
4A #7 Lawrence North 39, Franklin Central 36
Semifinals/championship @ Speedway (Dec. 8)
4A #19 Roncalli 45, 4A #14 Pike 44
4A #7 Lawrence North 40, Ben Davis 25
4A #7 Lawrence North 47, 4A #19 Roncalli 43