Girls’ basketball at Vincennes Rivet is not about star power. The Patriots won the 2011 Class A state championship without a single player averaging in double figures.
The Patriots are greater than the sum of their parts. They take quality players and blend into a great unit. This year’s team, the favorite to win a loaded regional at West Washington, is no exception.
No. 4 Rivet (19-4) will meet No. 8 New Washington (20-2) in the opening game of the regional at 10 a.m. Saturday. The winner will face either No. 5 Northeast Dubois (20-2) or Trinity Lutheran (15-8 after winning the first sectional in school history) in the final at 8 p.m.
Rivet attacks in waves. Coach Tim Young will shuttle in 10 players in the first eight minutes, applying relentless pressure and forcing tempo. That system leads to evenly spaced playing time and balanced statistics. Four Patriots average around 11 points per game.
“They’re the real deal,” New Washington coach Terry White said. “There are not a lot of weaknesses there.”
Rivet features three starters who were part of the state title. Junior guard Bailey Dreiman (11.8), senior guard Allyson Wehrheim (11.1) and junior Lauren Herman (10.3) have the experience of the ultimate stage, and freshman Kelsey Ivers (10.7) has given the Patriots a fresh injection of talent.
“That success paved the way and opened the door,” Young said. “It showed them if they work hard, they have a chance.”
New Washington’s chance will depend on its ability to handle the defensive assault.
“We will give it our best shot,” White said. “We will have to be solid. It will present a challenge. We will have to make it more difficult for them to attack us. We will have to counteract that in some fashion. We have to limit turnovers. They try to create a great deal of offense from that.”
“We always like to play up-tempo, and everyone tries to slow us down,” Young said. “That doesn’t bother us. But if we have to choose, we’d rather play the fast-paced game.”
The Mustangs are not without advantages. If they can calm down the tempo and establish an offensive foothold, they can go to work with scoring leader Ashley Johnson (17.7 ppg), post player Caroline Ricks (13.7 ppg, 13.0 rpg), and senior Kriston Sarver (12.1 ppg).
“It’s a very talented ballclub,” Young said. “They have a nice inside player and accompany her with good guard play and a pretty good shooter in Johnson. They’re pretty well-rounded.”
White wants the Mustangs to dictate, establish the inside power game and play with great confidence. The current 14-game winning streak should have created that. The Patriots will sense, and pounce on, any weakness.
“You try to prepare your team as well as you can,” White said. “We want to fulfill our roles. We can’t let them simply dominate us. Once the ball is tossed up, our group will be prepared enough to compete.”
In the second game, Dubois will feature senior guard Nicole Dodd (20.2 ppg, 8.9 rpg) as it defends its regional title. The Jeeps advanced to the state final last season.
The West Washington Regional is the strongest in Class A in terms of records and ranked teams. The survivor will advance to the semistate next weekend and face the winner from the Southwestern Regional at either Richmond or Bedford. The IHSAA will announce the semistate sites Sunday.
“Some pretty good teams will not be able to advance past this weekend,” White said. “It’s going to take a monumental effort for whoever comes out.”