FORT WAYNE – Canterbury has always tried to control the pace of a basketball game, but when the Cavaliers face top-ranked Heritage Christian in the Class 2A state championship Saturday, that strategy will be challenged.
Not only will the Eagles (26-1) be the best team the No. 3 Cavaliers (20-4) face this season, they might be one of the few teams that can match Canterbury’s high-octane offense. Canterbury averages a state-best 76.1 points. Heritage Christian is fifth at 69.
We have to prepare defensively, be mentally focused and come out and play hard, Canterbury senior Kindell Fincher said. They are going to be aggressive, and they are going to run. They are really going to run, and we have to be able to stop their transition and penetration in the halfcourt and the full-court.
There might be times when applying the brakes will be necessary.
They prefer transition in their offense, which is something we also prefer, Canterbury senior Emma Hyndman said.
We will have to choose the right moments to go into transition and slow it down when we think we need to. Sometimes it will get into that back and forth, and it will be fast-paced. We are used to seeing that. It will be go, go, go. We will try to slow them down.
Much the same as Tipton’s approach last week in the semistate, Heritage Christian uses its transition game to get the advantage and then uses ball control and timely dribble penetration to try to protect the lead.
Balance is also key for the Eagles, who have seven players who average between 6.2 and 15.8 points. The two double-digit scorers are sophomores Tyasha Harris (15.8) and Darby Foreman (13.5).
Also for Heritage Christian, juniors Syndey Hall, Allison Schofield and Peyton Fallis average 9.4, 8.9 and 8.5, sophomore Taylor Hall 7.8 and senior Natalie Orr 6.2.
They have a variety of ways they score, Canterbury coach Wayne Kreiger said. They have a variety of players who can do a lot of things. They like the transition game, and they use it to get ahead, and in the later stages they try to let the air out of it with their lead and protect it.
The Eagles know how to slow down, though, as evidenced in a 48-38 semistate win over North Knox. But the Cavaliers also know how to play fast, such as when they trailed Tipton by 10 points in the third quarter Saturday at the Warsaw Semistate but used a trapping half-court defense to pick the pace up in a 79-65 win.
Fincher (25.8 points per game) has 2,121 career points, and junior Darby Maggard (20.8) has 1,459. Junior Katherine Smith averages 12.3, and freshman Mason VanHouten gets 8.4.
We anticipate a great game with Canterbury, competing for the 2A state championship, Heritage Christian coach Rick Rissinger said. Darby Maggard and Kindell Fincher are exceptional players and will be very hard to contain with our man-to-man defense.