Southsider Voice correspondent
The girls basketball teams from Perry Meridian and Roncalli entered Tuesday’s sectionals on the heels of emotional setbacks.
The Falcons are without longtime assistant coach Howard Ely, who is recovering at home from a near-fatal heart attack. The Rebels have been without leading scorer and University of Kentucky recruit Lindsey Corsaro since she suffered a torn ACL and meniscus late last month against No. 1 Bedford North Lawrence.
The two teams met under dire circumstances Feb. 4 at Roncalli on senior night, when Halle Harris and Emma Lawrie were honored.
Gestures of good sportsmanship were abundant from the hosts.
The pregame prayer called for a full recovery for Ely. During a break in the game, Perry Meridian’s lone senior, Amanda Annee, was acknowledged and received a round of applause from fans on both sides of the court.
“Obviously, his (Ely) absence affects us,” coach Mike Armstrong said. “We miss Howard for what he brings to the game and to practice each day. We have had to adjust on the fly to a tough situation.”
Ely was stricken with a heart attack Jan. 28 on the sidelines at Cathedral, where he was treated court side before being transported. He was released from the hospital Feb. 2.
Corsaro, who has missed three games, ranks 10th among state scorers with 22.4 points per contest. Her high game was 34 against Carmel. She averages 10.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists and is the school’s 10th player to reach the 1,000-point plateau. A 6-0 junior, she has been to every practice and game since her injury. Coach Stan Benge fondly refers to her as a “coach.”
“Lindsey’s still a coach,” said Benge. “She knows her teammates’ language better than the coaches. She interprets what we (coaches) say in practice. We’re two-and-one since she was hurt.”
The Rebels’ defensive pressure and timely shooting upended the Falcons 68-49. Roncalli sophomore guard Paige Saylor scored a career-high 20 points, and 6-0 junior center Katie Carson went for a career-high 10 points. Junior guard Rachel Titzer added 16.
“This was a big game to get a little momentum going into sectionals,” Benge said.
Perry Meridian committed 21 turnovers, including seven in the first six minutes, and never led. The Falcons, led by junior forward D’Anjrea Allen’s 14 points, won the rebounding battle 25-20. The Rebels hit 22-of-50 shots (44 percent), but the Falcons connected on 20-of-44 (45.4 percent).
In Tuesday’s sectionals (results unavailable at press time), 4A No. 9 Roncalli met Cathedral at Lawrence North; Perry Meridian faced Northwest at Ben Davis.
Center Grove, 4A No. 7, Greenwood, Beech Grove, Manual, Greenwood Christian and Lutheran each played Tuesday various sectionals.
Southport plays Friday at 6 p.m. at Ben Davis, and 4A No. 16 Franklin Central plays at the same time at Greenwood. The Cardinals and Flashes drew byes in the first round.
Semifinals are at 6 and 7:30 p.m. Friday; championship games are 7 p.m. Saturday.
Due to girls sectionals, there are several boys games Thursday at 7:30 p.m.: Ritter at Beech Grove, Center Grove at Lawrence Central, Franklin Central at Decatur Central, Greenwood at Edinburgh, Morristown at Greenwood Christian, Cathedral at Roncalli, Perry Meridian at Martinsville and Bedford North Lawrence at No. 5 Southport.
Southport, formerly No. 1 in the state, has won five straight games since back-to-back losses to No. 18 Pike and No. 9 Lawrence North in mid-January.
With 13 wins in its first 16 games, Roncalli has equaled a record set by its 2006-07 and 2011-12 teams. The Rebels’ six-game winning streak is their longest since 2011-12.
Several teams will be trying to snap losing streaks: Center Grove has lost four games in a row, Greenwood seven, Lutheran nine and Manual four.