Local sectional champs battled, made own luck

And then there were … three?

Yes, three.

That’s how many local teams are still alive in the girls state basketball tournament.

In an ordinary year, the figure is one, occasionally two. Sometimes even zero.

But as the weekend demonstrated, this is no ordinary year.

Four days ago, three county teams played for sectional championships. All three won.

So for the first time since 2011, the county is sending three teams to regionals. And for that to happen, a number of scenarios have to fall into place.

In Class 4A, it means Center Grove, Greenwood, Franklin or Whiteland have to make it out of a notoriously tough sectional.

Center Grove did.

In Class 3A, it means Indian Creek has to make it out of an equally brutal field.

Indian Creek did.

And in Class A, it means Edinburgh — which has next-to-no postseason tradition — has to fight through a competitive sectional, as well.

Edinburgh did.

But beyond the novelty of three local sectional champions is the novelty — or rather, heroics — of how all three kept their seasons alive in their respective title games.

Center Grove, which took a losing record into the postseason, did it by edging Greenwood in a 90-86 overtime thriller.

Indian Creek, not the favorite heading in, did it with an improbable three-point play with 1.4 seconds left in a 71-70 win against Danville.

And Edinburgh, which also had a losing record, did it by rallying from a double-digit deficit for a 63-57 overtime win against host Morristown.

Talk about not giving up.

All three teams were determined to move on, even when it seemed all but certain that they wouldn’t.

Take Center Grove, for example.

With three starters having fouled out by overtime, a junior who hadn’t played the entire game — Val Clark — entered with 2:48 left to play. She sank a 3-point basket in the final minute that gave the Trojans a lead they would never relinquish.

Then there’s what happened at Indian Creek.

Trailing defending champion Danville by three with 2.4 seconds left, sophomore Addie Rund sank a free throw and intentionally missed the second. Senior Candace Danz put back the miss for a basket, was fouled on the shot and, with 1.4 seconds left, hit a free throw that sealed the win.

In slightly less dramatic but no less impressive fashion, Edinburgh trailed the entire way at Morristown until forging a tie at the end of regulation on a basket by senior Mariah Weddle. The Lancers went on to win after making 8 of 12 free throws in overtime, earning only their second sectional championship in team history.

But everything did fall into place. And Center Grove, Indian Creek and Edinburgh all have shots at regional titles on Saturday.

Lucky? Some might call it that. But in the case of these determined teams, they weren’t lucky at all.

They made their own luck.

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Rick Morwick is sports editor of the Daily Journal. He can be reached at rmorwick@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2715.