By Nathan Pace
The Big Ten women’s basketball tournament runs through Sunday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. But this is the first year since 2013 that former standout Bridget Perry will not be playing in the tourney. The Roncalli alumna graduated from Purdue last year and has a career in software.
“In college you put so many hours into it and I was ready to move on and do something with my academic degree,” Perry said.
Playing postseason basketball is something she did for eight years, dating to her freshman season at Roncalli. Perry won three sectional and two regional championships as a Rebel.
“We are a Catholic family; they wanted me to go to a good school so it was a good fit there. It was a good fit for me as a person too. Being able to play varsity all four years was just a tremendous blessing,” Perry said.
Sara Riedeman coached Perry her first three years as the Rebels found varsity minutes for her as freshmen. The Rebels finished 16-8 and won the sectional championship for the second straight season.
Her sophomore season the Rebels were a force in Class 3A, going 19-6 and winning sectional and regional games by double digits. The party ended though with a loss to Evansville Memorial in semistate.
“I could always drive, but over the four years I really developed my outside shot so I was a threat from everywhere. My defense and strength improved,” Perry said.
In 2011-12 Roncalli moved up to Class 4A and went 17-7. Riedeman left to take an assistant coaching job at Indiana State, so Perry’s senior year was under April (McDivitt) Schilling. The Rebels finished 24-4 as it was the freshmen season for future McDonald’s All-American Lindsey Corsaro, who is now at UCLA.
The Rebels won sectional and regional titles before losing to Bedford North Lawrence in overtime in semistate action.
“The game still gets to me,” Perry said. It was a great run.”
She was named an Indiana All-Star her senior year. What Perry remembers the most during those deep tournament runs was the support the school showed her and the team.
“The pep rallies were super fun,” she said. “I’m sure they are still rocking.”
Purdue was her college of choice because she was passionate about the school’s engineering programs.
“The coaches were 100 percent behind it. Unfortunately that’s not the case at every school,” Perry said. “They wanted to make sure that I was successful after graduation. Having that support there was tremendous. Purdue is obviously a great academic institution, I wanted to do engineering, I like math and science classes. I wanted a place where I could pursue my goals basketball wise and also academically. I liked the fact it was also in Indiana so it was really the total package.”
The 6-foot-2-inch forward was a consistent starter for Purdue her sophomore, junior and senior seasons. The Boilermakers reached the NCAA tournament three seasons with Perry.
A year ago she helped guide the Boilermakers to a 23-13 record and to a nine seed in the NCAA tournament. In a near upset, Perry had 22 points and nine boards in a Round of 32 overtime loss to No. 1 seed Notre Dame. She averaged 10.5 points and five rebounds her senior year.
While there was a possibility to play professionally overseas, Perry was eager- to use her degree and was offered a job with Wisconsin-based Epic Systems.
“When it’s a software company you know they are going to have a pretty cool campus. It’s kinda like Disneyland,” Perry said. “They have buildings that look like castles.”
Epic Systems has software in over half the nation’s hospitals, something that worked as Perry’s family has healthcare backgrounds. So instead of traveling to the Big Ten tournament this year, Perry is more likely to travel to hospitals. Though don’t be surprise if you run into Perry in the Badger State in a recreational game.
“It’s a cool company that really challenges you a lot,” Perry said. “I play pickup still, and we have fun little leagues.”
By Al Stilley
Senior staff writer
Roncalli rocked “The Woodshed,” the nickname for its gymnasium, Friday night.
In a raucous tourneylike setting, Rebels fans – especially the student body – turned the banner-filled gym into a jump center that rivaled the Duke Cameron Crazies.
The pep band was blaring, and a capacity crowd was on hand for senior night, which featured Roncalli battling Brebeuf Jesuit to determine the Circle City Conference champs.
Coach Michael Wantz’s determined but patient boys basketball team pulled away to a 53-46 triumph and the Rebels’ first league title.
The Rebels were led by their trademarked balanced offense with Bryson Meek and Joe Kirkhoff each scoring 11 points; Kellen Schreiber had 10 and Jack Hegwood nine.
Roncalli trailed 23-17 at the half but recovered for a 38-36 third-quarter lead. The Rebels finally took control with a nine-point lead (46-37) with five minutes left.
Seniors Meek, Kirkhoff, Schreiber, Hegwood, Conner Gore, Reese McGinsie, Drew Fleming and Matthew Looney joined in the celebration that followed.
The Rebels (17-6), who have 14 consecutive winning seasons under Wantz, were among five Southside teams that won their final games of the regular season.
Beech Grove (17-5) hung on for a 62-59 win at Whiteland; Franklin Central (4-17) ended a 10-game losing skein at home against Terre Haute North, 65-63; Center Grove (16-6) dominated Columbus North, 58-41; and Lutheran (4-17) snapped an 11-game losing skid by defeating Bethesda Christian, 66-61.
After four wins in a row, Manual (14-9) lost by two points to Danville and Gary Roosevelt. Greenwood (14-8) mysteriously fell to Indian Creek and New Palestine after five straight wins. Playing its fourth game in eight days, ice-cold Perry Meridian (4-17) could not overcome visiting Martinsville. And University edged Greenwood Christian (13-9) by four points.