FORT WAYNE – Just a week after playing with heavy hearts because of the death of assistant coach Cathy Pusey’s husband, Mark, the Concordia girls basketball team moved closer to an SAC regular-season championship with a 49-43 win over host Snider on Friday.
We had to play for (Cathy) and her family and keep being strong, Concordia junior De’Jour Young said. We told her that we will win every single game for her. That’s what we continue to do for her because she is a strong lady and a big part of our team.
Mark Pusey, 50, died last Tuesday in an apparent ice fishing accident, and the Cadets players went to the funeral home last Friday afternoon, then played a game that night as well as a game a day later without Cathy Pusey on the bench. The team is wearing a sleeve band with the initials MWP for the remainder of the season in memory of Mark Pusey.
It seems to unify everybody, Concordia coach Dave Miller said. And our faith being a Christian school seemed to sustain us and got us through everything and brought us closer together. That was important for us. I am proud of the way we have hung together and weathered all of this. It shows growth and maturity in the kids.
With Cathy Pusey back on the bench, the Cadets (15-3) beat the Panthers (6-10, 3-2) and improved to 5-0 in the conference, needing only a win next Friday against Wayne for their first SAC title since 2010. Concordia has now beaten the three teams directly under it in the conference standings – Bishop Luers (4-1), South Side (4-2) and Snider (3-2).
This is exciting, Young said. But we want to keep moving and putting pressure on each team we play and keep going at it.
It’s Concordia’s fifth straight win after a 59-51 loss to South Side in the SAC tournament championship game.
This was a huge game because otherwise Snider is in the driver’s seat, Miller said of the SAC race. I am pleased with the way we hung in there and finished the game.
Young led Concordia with 16 points, and Smith had 11.
The Cadets almost blew a halftime lead as the Panthers pulled within 42-40 midway through the fourth. After the Panthers got to within 46-43 with 25 seconds left, Courtney Smith blocked a potential tying 3-pointer by Deja Wimby, and Rachel Kammeyer and Erin Adair combined for three free throws to seal the win.
In the second half, (Snider) went to a 2-2-1 press and a three-quarter-court press and played some zone, Miller said. That change really affected us, and we didn’t get into a smooth flow offensively.
Down 38-26 midway in the third, the Panthers went on a 10-0 run into the fourth to get back into the game.
Wimby led Snider with 16 points, and Kiersten Eley and Karrina Smith each had 10.