Indy, here we come!
It all comes down to this.
Corydon Central, sporting a record of 24-2 and ranked 7th in Class 3A, will face off against No. 1 South Bend St. Joseph’s on Saturday night at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
The Lady Panthers are the first basketball team in the history of Harrison County hoops to advance to the IHSAA state final.
Of the four title games to be played, no matchup has a better win-loss record (48-3) than in 3A.
None of the tournament games thus far in Corydon’s magical run have been easy, and things won’t change this weekend.
The Indians, who have just one loss this season, are ranked 10th in the Midwest Region, according to USA Today.
South Bend St. Joe’s (24-1) features two starters who have already committed to major NCAA Division I programs and two others who will likely land a spot on a DI roster. The fifth starter, head coach Mike Megyese said, will play DIII basketball at Oakland City University.
‘As a coach, I’m very proud of that fact,’ Megyese said. ‘One of the things we try to do at St. Joe is to get our kids to college.’
South Bend is paced by Valparaiso University-signee and Miss Basketball candidate Amy Litka.
Litka, a 5-10 as a wing player, is the school’s all-time leading scorer. She averages 15 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4 assists and hits 59.3 percent of her shots.
‘She can go inside, she can go outside. She can drive, she can pass, and she can rebound. She just does it all for us,’ Megyese said.
As good as Litka is, St. Joe’s coach called junior guard and Notre Dame-signee Melissa Lechlitner his best player.
Lechlitner is a 5-7 guard. She puts in 15.9 points, hands out 6.4 assists, and grabs 3.8 rebounds per game. She’s shooting 41.8 percent beyond the arc and 50.9 percent overall.
‘I believe she’s the best point guard in the state of Indiana,’ her coach boasted. ‘She’s unbelievable. Some of the passes she makes and some of the dribbling moves she pulls off I wouldn’t even want to begin to try and simulate.’
Corydon Central coach Michael Uhl, who had already checked out one tape on St. Joe’s, said Litka and Lechlitner are two of the better guards he’s seen.
‘They are just incredibly fast. They just move all over the place, and before you know it, two passes and they’ve scored,’ Uhl said.
Filling out the third spot in Megyese’s three-guard lineup is 5-8 sophomore Sydney Smallbone.
Smallbone is being courted by the likes of Purdue, Michigan State, UConn and Indiana. She averages 12.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.2 assists. Smallbone is an 84 percent free throw shooter and hits 45 percent of her three-point shots.
The two post players for St. Joe’s are 6-4 sophomore Kristen Dockery and 5-9 Katie St. Clair.
Dockery, who lists Illinois, Missouri and Maryland among her suitors, averages 8.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and hits 62.4 percent of her shots. She’s had three double-doubles this season.
The senior St. Clair averages 8.4 points a game and shoots at an 80- percent clip from the foul stripe and will attend Oakland City.
‘Obviously, we’ve got our work cut out for us this Saturday,’ Uhl said. ‘Those schools he mentioned ‘ IU, Notre Dame and UConn ‘ we don’t even get camp information from those schools, much less get a kid to play there.’
Megyese said he’ll only go two deep on his bench, with Erin Newsom (a 6-1 junior) and Corey Jo Keim (a 5-1 senior) getting the call.
While SBSJ has taken on its share of cupcakes, the squad has also knocked off some formidable opponents.
Among those are South Bend Washington (21-4), 4A state finalist Gary West Side (23-4), Plymouth (20-3), West Lafayette (20-4), and 20-5 NorthWood last week in the semi-state.
The lone loss that dots St. Joseph’s schedule was a 66-62 setback to East Chicago Central at the Hall of Fame Tournament in late December.
While playing the ‘Seven Degrees of A State Championship’ game doesn’t always float, it’s interesting to note that East Chicago Central defeated Evansville Memorial in the first game of the Hall of Fame, 66-62. And Corydon tripped Memorial in the Jasper Regional final, 48-45.
South Bend St. Joe’s had a scout at the Southport Semi-state, and Megyese offered up his take on Corydon’s ball club.
‘They are a great basketball team, and not just because they are in the state finals. They have two great post kids, and Beaven is one of the toughest post players we’ll see all year long.
‘We feel like we know Corydon pretty well right now. When you see them on tape, you think about the two big kids,’ Megyese said. ‘That’s sadly mistaken. We feel like we have the best three guards in the state of Indiana as a trio, but we also feel like we’re going to have our work cut out for us against their three guards.
‘Their guards are small, but they are quick, they are good shooters and they do a lot of the little things. What more can I say? They are an excellent team.
‘They play great defense, they can be patient on offense, and they can get up and score. They sort of remind me of our team because they’ve put up some big scoring games, but they’ve also put up some 30s and 40s, but they can be successful either way.’
At Monday’s press conference at the Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Uhl said one of the biggest challenges outside of the state final game itself will be surviving a hectic week.
‘We’re coming up here on Tuesday afternoon, and then we’ll practice at home on Wednesday, then we have the celebration on Thursday night, and then the killer is on Friday,’ Uhl said.
‘We’ve got a luncheon up here with the team, then we have to get back and try to get in a practice, and the girls want to go see the guys play North Harrison in the sectional. I’m not sure how we’ll get it all in.’
Celebration of season tomorrow night at CCHS
There will be a celebration of Corydon Central’s remarkable season tomorrow (Thursday) night at 7 at the CCHS Auditorium.
There will be player introductions and a slide show presentation documenting the Lady Panthers’ tremendous run.
The event is free.