Bishop Chatard High School girls basketball coach Kevin Sweeney has had one significant disruption to his semistate preparation.
The Trojans had to practice Wednesday and today without starters Hannah Gardner, Remi Ewing and Krissy Kirkhoff because of a Senior Retreat, a tradition at the Catholic school. The players will return and practice Friday in Bedford.
The Trojans (21-5) will face Class 3A No. 2 Evansville Mater Dei (25-1) at 4 p.m. on Saturday in the 3A Bedford North Lawrence semistate.
Bishop Chatard athletic director Mike Ford said this is the last retreat of the school year so the girls had to attend. All three girls also had conflicts with their fall sports when other retreats were held. Ford said three senior boys basketball players, including two starters, missed Chatard’s game Wednesday due to the retreat.
“It’s (retreat) something we don’t want any kids to miss out on, it’s just a challenge with the timing but it’s workable,” Ford said.
Sweeney didn’t fret too much about the lost time from the physical aspect.
“The positive thing is we are going to keep doing what we’ve been doing all year so they know what we’re going to do,” Sweeney said. “They’re familiar with what the plan is and how we’re going to attack things and handle different defenses. The good thing is they are seniors. They know the system. It’s just a tough time to have your leaders away from the rest of the team. It’s more their leadership that we’ll miss.”
This is the team’s second regional title. When they won in 2008, the Trojans reached the state title game before losing to Plymouth. Sweeney was the coach of that team. After two seasons as Lawrence North coach, Sweeney returned to coach Chatard in 2011-12.
Gardner and Ewing both played volleyball in the fall. Kirkhoff played soccer, finishing with the school career record in goals.
Gardner, who averages 19.5 points per game, became the school’s all-time leading scorer in girls basketball against Brebeuf on Jan. 31. The 5-10 Gardner, who has 1,355 career points, has been the point guard since her freshman year.
“She’s just a fierce competitor, Sweeney said. “She’s an unselfish player. When she was averaging 25 points a game (earlier in the season) she was overly comfortable with that but that is what I asked her to do. She actually likes to get all her teammates involved. But she adapted to that until others got in basketball shape and some of our injured players got healthy.”
While Gardner’s scoring average has dropped, her assists have picked up. She is averaging four assists and nearly five steals per game Gardner can score inside and outside, shooting 38 percent from 3-point line.
“I think we are peaking at a really good time,” Gardner said. “We struggled a little bit when we lost Anna Logan (to injury). We got in a rut. But it’s been great to see everyone stepping up and we’re playing well as a team right now.”
Logan, a 6-1 junior post player, was sidelined for the season with a stress fracture a few weeks ago. Logan was the second-leading scorer at 17 points per game.
“I think we had five girls in double figures in our first regional game,” Gardner said. “Everyone is picking up their scoring. I’m trying to create plays for other people so it’s been great.”
Mater Dei won the Class 2A state the past two seasons before moving up a class due to the Indiana High School Athletic Association’s Tournament Success Factor rule. Mater Dei is led by IndyStar Miss Basketball candidate Maura Muensterman, who has signed with Indiana University.
“We’re considered the underdog and that’s the place we like to be in,” Gardner said. “We like overcoming teams instead of being expected to beat teams. I don’t think a lot of people expect us to win so we’re in a good position right now.”
Gardner, who played on Chatard’s Class 3A state championship volleyball team, plans to play volleyball or basketball in college. She is considering DePauw and some Division II schools.
“Whichever one I’m playing is my favorite sport at the time,” Gardner said.