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What does it take to beat No. 1?

This Saturday, Corydon Central’s girls basketball team will battle for a state championship.
Saturday is also nearly three years and one month to the day that one of my favorite feature stories went to print.
The Flair story, titled, ‘What Does It Take To Be No. 1?’ was about Corydon’s class of 2006, which had just completed its eighth grade season and finished its pre-high school career with a marvelous record of 61-0.
In the story, the team’s sixth grade coach, Gary Haub, offered up this prediction: ‘When they are juniors, and (freshman Dana) Beaven is a senior, this team should have a great shot at a state championship. Then, when they are seniors, anything is possible.’
Now that is a prediction.
So what’s it going to take to actually beat No. 1 South Bend St. Joseph’s on Saturday?
It’s simple: the same thing that brought Corydon to this point ‘ defense, defense, defense.
When breaking down the Class 3A state final Saturday night on Indiana Sports Talk, it took Hoosier Basketball Magazine publisher Garry Donna all of about seven seconds to call South Bend St. Joseph’s the favorite over Corydon Central.
At the press conference for the eight coaches for the state finalists at Conseco Fieldhouse on Monday, St. Joseph’s coach Mike Megyese wasted no time talking about the quality of teams his squad faced this year, which included a win over 4A finalist Gary West Side.
Megyese went on to describe a starting lineup that features three ‘ maybe four ‘ NCAA Division I players. A junior guard, Melissa Lechlitner, is headed to Notre Dame while senior Miss Basketball candidate Aimee Litka is going to Valpo.
By now, we’ve all heard that SBSJ is ranked No. 1 in Class 3A, No. 1 in the entire state in the highly-touted Sagarin Ratings, and No. 10 in the nation by USA Today.
World and universe rankings were not available.
How about this: each of this weekend’s state championship games feature one team that’s been to the state finals against a team making its first appearance.
Over the past 10 years, which includes 37 state finals games, teams that had been to state sometime in a four-year period were 8-6 against teams with no experience at state during that span.
(South Bend was destroyed by the Katie Gearlds-led Beech Grove squad two seasons ago, 63-45.)
This year the Indians sport the highest-scoring offense in the state at 69.4 a game.
Statistically, SBSJ shoots better inside the arc, outside the arc and from the foul stripe. They average 6.6 more rebounds a game than the Lady Panthers.
Someone told me via e-mail that Corydon has probably never seen a team like St. Joe’s. Ever. I don’t mean just this year, but ever.
That all may be true, but I know this: the Lady Panthers won’t simply give up on a dream just because of rankings.
Truth be known, Corydon’s defense will be one of the best SBSJ has faced this year. Only NorthWood (37.7) and Plymouth (34.7) gave up fewer points a game this season than CC (39.1).
Those two teams held St. Joe’s to two of their lowest point totals this season.
I hope Uhl’s girls wear the ‘Underdog’ badge with honor, because there’s no better way to go into a state championship game.

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