You couldnt really say it was over before the final strains of the school songs faded, but you didnt have to stretch the truth very far to do so.
The cold reality was, Carrolls season began to end the first time Sniders Meredith Shipman or Bryanna Moore or Deja Wimby picked a Chargers pocket, and that began to happen a handful of seconds or so after the opening tip in the Snider 4A girls sectional semifinals Friday.
Thirty-two Carroll turnovers later – 22 of them off steals by the larceny-minded Panthers – Snider was breezing into the championship game, running the Chargers out of the gym 69-35.
Now its on to a rematch of a rematch with SAC rival Northrop, who beat North Side 53-33 in the other semifinal and whom the Panthers have beaten this season by 39 and 15 points, respectively.
Were not gonna take it lightly tomorrow, Snider coach Kelley Meiklejohn said. Were gonna prepare the way we do for every game and play how we play, and hope we come out with the W.
Not a lot has changed. Its postseason so everyone wants to win. Theres a lot more at stake now. But I think some of our girls are experienced and they know what it takes to get the job done.
That was certainly the case Friday night.
Making Carroll play at warp speed with merciless, baseline-to-baseline man pressure, the Panthers were up 9-0 less than four minutes in, led 21-2 before the Chargers got their first field goal with 14 seconds left in the first quarter, and had it safely tucked away by halftime, when it was a 41-13 game.
All according to plan, according to Meiklejohn.
Weve been doing that all year long, trying to put the pressure on begin with, getting them out of their game a little bit, because thats our game plan and what we focus on, she said.
Play fast but not in a hurry is one of our bigger mottoes, said senior forward Meredith Shipman, who led three double-figure scorers for Snider with 17 points, and who also had six steals.
I know we all had a bunch of steals, and thats what we were looking for. Just turn them over and fastbreak.
And, in the process, get Carroll completely out of any semblance of rhythm.
The Chargers turned it over 18 times in the first half and made just 4-of-19 shots, then missed 10 of 12 in the third quarter enroute to a 12-of-43 shooting night.
By then, the Panthers led 55-19, and were substituting liberally.
They eventually pushed it to 67-25 on reserve Kiersten Eleys offensive rebound with 3:24 left in the game.
Now its on to Northrop, one more time.
Its not only a sectional game, Shipman said. This also an SAC game, and we take those very personal.
So were just coming to play Snider basketball, trying to turn them over and run our fastbreak.