Senior staff writer
Roncalli’s girls basketball team won its seventh regional title by defeating Greenfield-Central 46-45 Saturday night at Decatur Central.
Senior Lindsey Corsaro led all scorers with 23 points, and junior Paige Saylor added 13.
The Class 4A No. 5 Rebels advanced to the championship game by downing No. 3 Lawrence North 55-45 earlier in the day.
The regional crown is Roncalli’s first since 2013 and its second since moving to Class 4A from 3A before the 2011-12 season.
The Rebels improved their record to 24-4 and advance to Saturday’s semistate round at Richmond, where they will face No. 1 Columbus North (26-1) at 3 p.m.
The mindset of the Rebels is the same as floor leader and all-time leading scorer Corsaro, who contends, “We really haven’t accomplished anything yet; our goal is to move on.”
The Miss Indiana Basketball candidate led the Rebels with 30 points, including 12 points in the fourth quarter, against No. 3 Lawrence North and later hit a pair of game-winning free throws with 16 seconds left to edge No. 10 Greenfield.
The Rebels overcame several obstacles against Greenfield: namely, a knee injury suffered by 6-1 senior forward Daesjah Ely, Corsaro’s foul trouble and three crucial turnovers in the waning minutes.
Greenfield was able to get off two good shots, but each time missed for a nail-biting finish. The Cougars trailed 44-37 with 1:38 left but rallied for a one-point lead after Roncalli missed the front end of a 1-and-1 free throw.
“The key to this one came when the final horn sounded,” coach Stan Benge said. “We just survived to play again. We were awfully tired; it would have been tough on us if it had gone into overtime.”
Ely was in a wheelchair when she rejoined her teammates on court for the postgame championship celebration. She went down after putting the Rebels ahead 38-36 early in the fourth quarter.
Saylor scored 13 points in the finale with four layups off fast breaks.
“Our legs weren’t there, but we knew we could do it,” Saylor said. “We’ve had situations like this before, and this just shows that we can still do it.
The Rebels avenged a lopsided 54-33 loss inflicted by Lawrence North on Jan. 9.
Corsaro’s three-quarter court 3-pointer that ended the second quarter and Saylor’s 3-point shot that opened the third period pushed the Rebels to a 27-26 lead. The Rebels scored 11 more unanswered points and held the Wildcats scoreless for the first six minutes of the quarter.
“We had too much adrenaline early,” Benge said. “They were up five points and we hit those two threes and that put them behind. We kept building our lead after that. The girls did what they were asked to do.”
Roncalli connected on 18-of-38 shots, 47.4 percent, and outrebounded the Wildcats 36-21, with Corsaro snaring 12 and Ely 10 off the boards.
Corsaro became the third Roncalli player to score at least 30 points in a state tournament game.
Close to a big upset
Center Grove came close to a major upset Saturday but lost to Columbus North 69-58 in overtime.
The Trojans led 46-32 before CN chipped away at their lead and tied the game at 55 at the end of the fourth quarter.
Lauren Rau, CG’s lone senior, scored a team-high 15 points and dished out nine assists before fouling out in overtime. Amy Davis added 15 points and Madelyn Bitterling 11.
North took a 53-52 lead with two minutes left in regulation, but Allison Utterback responded with a 3-pointer before the Bulldogs tied it with two free throws.
This was Center Grove’s 19th trip to regionals, its sixth in class basketball. The Trojans won the single-class state championship in 1996.