WARSAW – For a program that has rarely, if ever, dealt with being behind in a game of this magnitude, Canterbury came out of Saturday’s Class 2A Semistate in a very familiar way.
Canterbury rallied from a 10-point third-quarter deficit and defeated Tipton 79-65 at Warsaw.
The No. 3 Cavaliers (20-4) will face top-ranked Heritage Christian (26-1) at 12:45 p.m. Saturday in the 2A state championship game in Terre Haute.
It’s the last one so it is bittersweet, but I am looking forward to it, Canterbury senior Kindell Fincher said of reaching the finals.
In the 3A Semistate, Norwell lost to Western 41-31. Sixth-ranked Western (22-3) will play No. 2 Evansville Mater Dei (26-1) in the 3A state title game at 6 p.m. next Saturday.
No. 12 Norwell finished the season 21-5. The Knights were led by Hanna Smith’s nine points.
The Knights were playing in their first semistate in 37 years, while the Panthers lost to Concordia in the 2012 3A semistate game.
In the 2A game, Canterbury came back from a 55-45 third-quarter deficit with a 20-2 run that extended into the fourth.
The Cavaliers eventually held a 10-point lead of their own in the fourth, going ahead 75-65 on No. 5 Tipton (18-5).
We just never let up, Fincher said. We stayed pretty positive. We are a team and a family, and we keep each other up.
The Cavaliers outscored the Blue Devils 34-10 over the final 10 minutes.
We didn’t want it to be our last game, Canterbury junior Darby Maggard said. We weren’t ready to be done yet.
After going with a 2-3 zone defense for much of the game, Canterbury started trapping Tipton. The move paid off with steals and led to an up-tempo transition game.
We practiced that this week because I had scouts that told me they like to be patient with a lead, Canterbury coach Wayne Kreiger said of the trapping defense. (The Tipton lead) got up to 10, so we changed and ran it, and we were successful in having them turn it over and then scoring at the other end.
So for a team known for its offense, the defense became the difference-maker.
We were passive in our 2-3 zone, so in the second half we came out and pushed the tempo and trapped, Maggard said. That was a big change in the game.
Fincher had 20 points, Maggard 19, Katherine Smith 18 and Mason VanHouten 11.
It shows our heart, Smith said of the comeback. We worked hard in that second half when we were down, and we wanted to go to Terre Haute again. We made it happen.
The Cavaliers will be playing in their third straight state title game and sixth in the past seven years.
Canterbury won five Class A state titles from 2008 to ’10 and in 2012 and 2013.
Hopefully it will be like the other ones, Maggard said.
The Cavs moved up to 2A this year because of school growth and the IHSAA success factor.
You never know if your last one is your last one, Kreiger said. The goal this year was to keep the tradition at Canterbury (going). To get back to state is an honor, and to move up a class and get back is a special honor.
Maggard’s jumper at the third-quarter buzzer tied the game at 55.
A Maggard 3-pointer gave the Cavs a 60-57 advantage early in the fourth, and the momentum had turned.
I emphasized that all week that this would be one of the toughest games we have played all year, Kreiger said.
The Cavaliers trailed 13-6 in the first before scoring seven straight to tie the game at 13.
Canterbury led 19-18 after the first.