Senior staff writer
Roncalli assistant coach Denise McClanahan handed coach Stan Benge a pair of scissors to join the Rebels in cutting down the net Saturday night after winning the school’s first Marion County girls basketball championship at Franklin Central.
This was a history-making night as Roncalli won the “Queen of the County” traveling trophy.
McClanahan and Benge already had accomplished the feat: McClanahan as Southport coach in the 1989-90 and 1993-94 campaigns and Benge, an Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame coach, 10 times at Ben Davis.
Benge politely refused the scissors and said, “I don’t cut it down until the state championship.”
The state’s top prize always is the goal for Benge.
“They’re all special,” he said after his 11th county championship. “This one is special because Roncalli’s never won the county before or won a championship since I’ve been here. We would like to do it a few more times.”
The 4A No. 3 Rebels defeated Pike 66-52 Saturday mainly because junior Paige Saylor single-handedly led a second-quarter comeback with 14 points, hitting four 3-pointers from the left corner, and Miss Indiana Basketball candidate Lindsey Corsaro had the ball in her hands most of the fourth quarter.
Trailing 17-11, Corsaro canned a 5-foot shot and Saylor hit two treys in 14 seconds for the Rebels’ first lead. Saylor’s third 3-pointer put Roncalli up 26-24, and her fourth propelled the team to a 31-25 advantage.
Roncalli (10-1) never trailed after Saylor’s outburst on a career-high 27-point game. Corsaro scored 20 points, hitting 8-of-10 free throws in the fourth quarter.
“My teammates kept encouraging me to shoot: I really fed off them,” Saylor said. “This was a team effort. We were really focused and really prepared. We wanted to win … we deserved it. We played hard, we played tough and we knocked down shots.”
With Saylor hitting shots from the corner, Pike (10-2) had to pay attention to her as well as Corsaro, who was held to two points in the first half. Earlier this season, Saylor was recovering from a sprained ankle and did not play in the Rebels’ dramatic two-point win over Pike.
Saylor’s previous career-high was 20 points last season against Perry Meridian, with Corsaro on the sidelines with a season-ending knee injury.
“I was glad she (Saylor) was aggressive offensively; we needed her to do that,” Benge said. “She did it last year after Lindsey went down, but she hadn’t done it with Lindsey on the floor. It was great to see.”
Roncalli stayed in a zone defense against 4A No. 5 Pike, which resulted in only two Red Devils – Ty Robinson, 22 points, and Angel Baker, 12 points – in double figures.
Pike cut Roncalli’s lead to three points twice in the third quarter. The Red Devils trimmed the lead to 51-46 in the fourth period, but Saylor’s fifth and final trey pushed the Rebels ahead by eight points with three minutes to go. Roncalli closed out the title by hitting 9-of-10 free throws.
Corsaro also snared 12 rebounds as the Rebels controlled the boards 31-24. Roncalli connected on 18-of-43 shots, 41.5 percent, while Pike only hit 21-of-57, 36.7 percent. Roncalli senior Rachel Titzer added eight points and 11 rebounds.
The Rebels advanced to the championship game by defeating Brebeuf, Decatur Central and Ben Davis. Roncalli was the only Southside team to reach the semifinals.
Girls notes: Mooresville (9-3) handed 4A No. 15 Greenwood its second consecutive loss Saturday, 61-47. The Woodmen (8-3) fell behind 37-29 after a cold-shooting 2-of-11 third quarter. Senior Holly Hoopingarner scored 18 points … Emma Weedon, 17 points, and Emma Pasch, 11 points, led Lutheran (3-6) to a 49-44 conference win against Park Tudor … Center Grove’s young Trojans upped their record to 5-3 by holding Bloomington South to 31 percent shooting for a 43-36 win.
Boys basketball: Manual remained unbeaten in three games with a 75-74 triumph over Indy Home School ... five Redskins were in double figures, led by Couvesier McCauley’s 18 points.
In a Southside rivalry game, Lutheran jumped to a 37-21 halftime lead and eked out a 54-51 win at Greenwood Christian behind Tyler Johnson’s 21 points. The six-game Forum Tipoff Classic at Southport ended Saturday with the Cardinals (3-2) dropping a 67-64 nightcap to East St. Louis (Ill.).
The Cardinals edged Bloomington South 45-43 Friday on Joey Brunk’s put-back with less than one second on the clock. Franklin Central (2-1) rolled to a 76-68 Indiana Conference win against Columbus North behind Marcus Burk’s 23 points.