TERRE HAUTE – The Canterbury girls basketball team did not anticipate facing a zone defense.
The Cavaliers had trouble solving it, and as a result fell 64-61 to top-ranked Heritage Christian in the Class 2A state championship game Saturday at the Hulman Center on the campus of Indiana State.
The Eagles’ scheme was designed to slow star forward Kindell Fincher, who had 24 points and 16 rebounds but missed 14 of 19 shots and committed six turnovers.
Its powerful offense contained, No. 3 Canterbury failed in the quest for a record-tying sixth state title. The Cavaliers shot just 33 percent from the field.
Traditionally, they have played man-to-man, Canterbury coach Wayne Kreiger said. That was the biggest thing. They packed it in for Kindell on the drive. Getting our kids to attack was the challenge.
Heritage Christian (27-1) shot 50 percent from the field and made eight free throws in the final minute to seal its fifth state crown. That ties the Cavaliers for second-most.
Junior Sydney Hall led the Eagles’ balanced offensive attack with 17 points. Her sister Taylor Hall, a sophomore reserve, added 12.
Canterbury had won consecutive titles but advanced to 2A this season and finished as runner-up.
We weren’t defending the 1A championship, Kreiger said. Moving up wasn’t anything we were afraid of. It was something we embraced and felt it was a challenge to be able to do the things we did.
Cavaliers point guard Darby Maggard scored 20 points, while forward Katherine Smith added 10 points and eight rebounds.
Nothing worthwhile is easy, Maggard said. I’m proud of my team. We’ve got people coming back. I’m looking forward to it.
A senior, Fincher fought back tears contemplating the end of her career. Fincher is committed to play basketball at Xavier.
Going to miss this one a lot, said Kreiger, patting Fincher on the shoulder.
Whenever you can graduate with two state championships, one runner-up and a regional title, it says quite a bit about the leadership, he said.
Canterbury fell behind 47-38 with 5:50 to go but got within 56-54 on Fincher’s free throws with 1:02 left.
Canterbury trailed 59-55 with 46 seconds showing when Alexa Habig, who had checked in moments earlier after Rachael Hoagburg fouled out, missed a 3.
You can’t script it, Kreiger said. We wanted a good shot. The shot didn’t go in. If it was open, that was what was needed.
The Cavaliers led 16-12 midway through the second quarter, matching their largest lead of the game.
But four consecutive turnovers triggered an 8-0 run by Heritage Christian, which consisted of four easy fast-break layups.
We just didn’t get back on defense, Maggard said. Basketball is a game of runs. I thought we came back well.
Heritage Christian finished with 19 fast-break points and limited the Cavaliers to six.
Maggard and Fincher were good enough to keep Canterbury competitive.
Those are two very, very strong players, Eagles coach Rick Rissinger said. Canterbury’s a nice team. Give them credit.
Canterbury led 11-9 after the first quarter but was outscored 13-7 in the second to trail 22-18 after a surprisingly low-scoring first half. The Cavaliers were within 39-35 after three quarters, but Heritage Christian was too much.
That’s a heck of a basketball team, Kreiger said. They’ve got depth, size, speed and shooters. We competed. This team has no quit. Absolutely none.