By Aaron Kirchoff Rushville Republican
---- — Four sectional champions converge on Jasper Saturday for the IHSAA Class 3A basketball regional.
Three ranked teams highlight the field – No. 2 Evansville Mater Dei, No. 4 Rushville and No. 7 Madison.
“We are excited about the opportunity in front of us this weekend. We feel like we are playing our best basketball of the season right now. We have been very good defensively for the last month, and offensively, we have had really good balance over the past few weeks,” head coach Melissa Marlow said. “We have had six different girls in double figures over the past three games and a seventh score eight points in one of those games.
“For us, the keys to success are consistent. Defensively, we have to take away their transition game, defend without fouling, and control the glass. Offensively, we have to take care of the basketball, play in attack mode by getting the ball in the post and to the basket off the dribble drive, generate some easy buckets in transition and by crashing the boards, and lastly we have to make some perimeter shots that our offense creates,” Marlow added.
The regional opener pits No. 7 Madison (16-2) against unranked Southridge (16-5).
The No. 7 Lady Cubs defeated host Charlestown 72-46 in the sectional final last week. This is the third sectional title in four years for Madison. Four Lady Cubs scored in double figures led by Olivia Crozier with 19 followed by Alex Thurnall 15, Whitney Wynn 13 and Macky Hecox 10.
Southridge won the sectional title at Vincennes Lincoln. The Lady Raiders defeated Jasper 48-44 in the opening round, No. 9 Washington 41-40 in the semifinal and host Lincoln 46-41 for the title.
The second semifinal has two-time defending Class 2A state champion Evansville Mater Dei (23-1) taking on the Lady Lions (19-4).
Mater Dei opened the season with seven straight wins before falling to Roncalli 71-59 on Dec. 27. The Lady Wildcats have not lost since. The sectional was set up to have No. 1 Princeton take on the No. 2 Lady Wildcats, but Princeton lost to Evansville Memorial in the semifinal. Mater Dei opened the sectional with a 64-40 win over Mt. Vernon (Posey) then defeated Evansville Bosse 53-41 to reach the final. In the title game, the Lady Wildcats defeated Memorial 58-28.
Mater Dei is led by IU bound Maura Muensterman. The 6-0 senior guard/forward averages 22.7 points per game, 8.6 assists per game and 7.5 rebounds per game. She shoots 89 percent from the charity stripe and 53 percent from behind the 3-point arc.
Muensterman is aided by 6-2 junior Tori Schickel, who averages 16.8 ppg and 11.5 rpg.
“Mater Dei presents some unique challenges for us. Maura Muensterman is one of the top players in the state of Indiana. She’s a 6-0 guard that can score the ball all over the floor, but she also averages about eight assists per game. We really have to work to contain her, but we can’t get caught watching her, because she’ll create an easy opportunity for someone else,” Marlow said. “The Schickel girl is a 6-2 post player that is athletic and runs the floor very well. We will have to try to limit her touches in the paint and make sure she doesn’t get easy looks around the basket. Other than that, they are a team that really understands their roles and plays within themselves. I think it is a game where whichever team can impose their will and control the tempo, and have a couple of players step up, will win the basketball game. It’s going to be a great day of basketball.”
The Lady Lions had little trouble capturing their sectional title with a 69-45 victory over Lawrenceburg and 63-30 win over Batesville. Rushville is led in scoring by Mackenzie Campbell at 18.0 ppg. Keragan Niehoff averages a double-double with 11.3 ppg and 11.8 rpg.
“This team has great leadership. Our five seniors have been incredible all year, and they will have us ready to go Saturday. They have been through these battles before, know what it takes to have post-season success, and they still want more and have some goals they still want to accomplish. The basketball team has been very locked in over the past few weeks, and very focused on business. They have done a good job of not getting distracted or looking ahead,” Marlow said.
Contact: Aaron Kirchoff at 765-932-2222, ext. 114