It’s the end of the road for the Indian Creek girls basketball team. But the Braves did gather steam as the season progressed.
Although they struggled in the first half of the season, the Braves rallied after the Christmas break, winning seven of their last nine games.
But on Saturday night in the Class 3A sectional championship at Danville, the Braves ran into a buzz-saw in nemesis Tri-West of Hendricks County.
The Bruins, who delivered a 75-70 overtime win against Indian Creek in the 2012 sectional title game, led wire-to-wire by posting a 58-47 win.
The opening four minutes of the game illustrated a case of nerves for both teams, with turnovers getting in the way of any offensive flow.
The Bruins, who grabbed a 11-8 lead after the first quarter, forced the hand of Indian Creek’s 3-2 zone defense thanks to the outside shooting of junior guard Katrina Headlee.
Swinging the ball from side to side, the Bruins found Headlee coming off screens, enabling her to cash in on good shot opportunities.
Headlee scored 15 of her game-high 24 points in the opening half. By game’s end, she connected on 11 of 16 from the field including 2 of 3 from outside the arc.
Tri-West stretched its lead to 30-20 at the half, limiting Indian Creek to only six field goals in 25 attempts.
By double-teaming the Braves leading scorer sophomore Candace Danz, Tri-West had an answer for almost every other offensive set Indian Creek attempted.
“They’re well-coached. It looked like they prepared for us all week,” Braves fifth-year coach Dan Burkman said. “They really focused defensively on the wings against Candace and Alexis (McGregor).
“You take that away and that’s what made us struggle.”
With a 38-31 lead at the end of the third period, Headlee ignited a 12-3 Bruins run with a 3-pointer coupled with a fast-break layup by junior forward Karen Jones, who finished with 10 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.
With four minutes remaining and a 16-point lead, Tri-West began to substitute freely, and Indian Creek followed suit over the final 60 seconds.
Danz finished with a team-leading 22 points, including 12 of 15 at the free throw line. She also added 10 rebounds. Her sister, junior Raven Danz, added seven points and six boards.
With the exception of seniors Jessica Knight, Kaylie Haste and Annie Peters, the Braves return most of their roster for next season.
Burkman said the team will continue to schedule tough opponents like it has done every year because in the end, it improves both individual and team play.
“They prepare you for nights like this,” he said. “What it doesn’t prepare you for is the adrenaline, the stress, the emotions of playing in a sectional championship, and I think that’s what some of our younger girls experienced, and they didn’t have the leadership that they have historically had.”