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Central Catholic grasps girls basketball regional crown

February 24, 2013
Lafayette Central Catholic High School

Central Catholic’s senior class finally has its Class A regional girls basketball championship.

Emily Denhart scored nine of her game-high 21 points in the pivotal third quarter Saturday night, lifting the Knights to a 46-34 victory over No. 7 North Vermillion in the title game of the Tri-Central Regional.

Central Catholic will play top-ranked Fort Wayne Canterbury at either the Crown Point or Warsaw Semistate this Saturday.

The Knight, three-time losers in consecutive regional finals, outrebounded North Vermillion 18-6 in the second half while limiting the Falcons to seven baskets and erasing a 17-16 halftime deficit.

“Our schedule is tough throughout the year because it prepares us for postseason play,” said Central Catholic coach Craig DeVault, whose team celebrated its first regional title since the 2005-06 state championship season. “We knew North Vermillion was a good team. Our defense cranked it up in the second half, and it helped us to victory.”

Denhart drove to the basket in the third quarter, resulting in either layups or foul calls. Her layup with 2:18 remaining in the period gave CC the lead for good at 28-26. The Knights led 32-26 entering the fourth quarter.

“This has been our goal since the beginning of the season, and we want to keep pushing as far as we can,” Denhart said. “In the locker room, coach said we weren’t playing our game and we knew that. Coach has been on me all season about driving to the hole more. I decided if girls are going to slack off on me, I’m doing to do it.”

Alanna Roswarski, a senior who played on the previous Knights teams that lost in the regional finals, said CC was determined not to let this game get away.

“We’ve had players who’ve been here before and we wouldn’t have made it here without or coaches and fans,” said Roswarski, who scored 10 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. “Coach kept pushing us in the third quarter. We have good coaches, and you want to go out and win for him and for the fans.”

North Vermillion coach Terry Naylor said his team’s inability to knock down shots hurt them as much as anything Central Catholic did.

“If we would have hit some shots in the first half we would have been in a better position in the third quarter,” Naylor said. “Then we fought foul trouble. We had open look after open look all game long. Our girls did a great job at controlling tempo and they hit 18 free throws and we get two.”

In Saturday morning’s semifinal, the Knights did much of the same thing to pull away from Randolph Southern for a 64-43 victory.

CC forced Randolph Southern to miss its first seven shots to start the third quarter. Freshman Cameron Onken scored 16 points and Denhart added 15. Roswarski topped 1,000 points, reaching the mark on a layup with 15 seconds left in the third quarter. She finished the game with 11.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my teammates over the past four seasons,” Roswarski said. “I would not be the player I am without every coach I had and every player I played with.”

Central Catholic’s press took its toll on the Rebels in the second half. Randolph Southern went scoreless during the first five minutes of the third quarter. By the time the Rebels’ Hannah Franklin made a layup with 2:43 to play, the Knights had extended a five-point halftime edge to 45-26.

Randolph Southern seemed to have an advantage inside as sophomore post Morgan Acton scored 11 first-half points. But the Knights limited Acton to two second half points before she fouled out.

“We wanted to go to the post because we didn’t think they had anybody who could stop that,” Randolph Southern coach Jerimy Stephan said. “We started settling for some outside shots that we just can’t do.”

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