Girls basketball state finals notebook: 'Just pinch me'

Girls basketball state finals notebook: 'Just pinch me'


Girls basketball state finals notebook: 'Just pinch me'


Bob Anglea celebrates Pike's regional championship, Feb. 11, 2017. The Red Devils are one win away from a state title.

Bob Anglea celebrates Pike’s regional championship, Feb. 11, 2017. The Red Devils are one win away from a state title.

With the IHSAA girls basketball state finals Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the coaches for the participating teams made the trip to Indianapolis for media availability.

Here are some news and notes from Monday’s media session:

>> Pike coach Bob Anglea is still trying to come to grips with what his team has done this season.

“I told my wife yesterday before we got up to go to church, ‘Just pinch me to make sure it’s all real,’” he said. “I feel like we’re going to wake up and say we lost to Brownsburg in the regional. I’m just so happy for the kids.”

The Class 4A No. 4 Red Devils haven’t lost since Dec. 17 at Center Grove. That’s 14 consecutive wins, the most of any team remaining in the tournament. Anglea said the changes in his team since that loss have been mental.

“Even when things get tough or games get tough, they come together and say, ‘What’s the best way that we can get this job done?’” he said.

>> 4A No. 2 Homestead will face its fourth straight top-10 team Saturday. The Spartans knocked off No. 3 Zionsville and No. 5 Carmel in the regional and No. 7 Northridge in the semistate. They also faced Carmel and Lawrence North during the regular season, who were both ranked at the time, and lost to Wayne (Huber Heights), ranked No. 6 in Ohio by MaxPreps.

“Our kids are somewhat familiar and comfortable playing big games and know what to expect,” Homestead coach Rod Parker said. “This schedule has really helped us be comfortable in big games.”

>> Class 3A No. 1 North Harrison is returning to the state title game for the second straight year. Heritage Christian knocked off the Lady Cats 51-45 last season.

>> There is a unique place in history on the line for South Bend St. Joseph coach Sydney Smallbone. With a win, she would be the first to win an Indiana girls state title as a player and a coach. She helped the program to its first (and only) state title in 2005. Assistant coaches Melissa Lechlitner and Kristin Dockery were also on that team.

“I’ve really focused on everything being about the kids this year,” Smallbone said. “It would be special for me because I know how much I’ve dedicated to the game of basketball my whole life, but it’s really not about me on Saturday.”

The coaching group also has a prestigious college background. Smallbone played for Pat Summit at Tennessee, Lechlitner played for Notre Dame and Dockery played at Minnesota.

“We see a lot of the same things, we mesh together, we come with the same mindset on different things,” Smallbone said of the relationship with her coaches.

She also said the advances in technology have changed the game drastically from when she was a player.

“It’s really changed the high school game for the better,” she said. “Girls understand the game much more. You’ve got to prepare a lot more as coaches and players.”

>> 2A Oak Hill coach Todd Law is in his 13th year with the program, but his family’s history with the school goes back even further. His father, Jim Law, coached Oak Hill’s football program for 23 years before coaching Taylor University for eight years.

>> Class A Union City coach Sarah Black is helping her team break records that she set as a player. Black played for the program in 2001 when it set the record for wins in a season (24). That group lost in the first round of semistate (then, teams had to win two games in the semistate round).

Saturday’s semistate win marked the team’s 24th victory of the season.

“I always tell the girls, ‘You have to get 24 wins to beat our team record. And I hope you get it, because that means you’re playing in the state championship,’” Black said.

“I feel like my school gave me so much academically and athletically,” she added. “I was able to be a part of this as a player and now the opportunity to do this as a coach and give back to my community and program is something I always wanted to do.”

>> Four teams playing Saturday (Union City, Wood Memorial, Eastern and North Harrison) are vying for the first state title in their school’s history in any sport. South Bend St. Joseph is the only remaining school in the field with a girls basketball state title to its credit (2004-05).

Follow IndyStar high school sports reporter Matthew VanTryon on Twitter at @MVanTryon.


Class A: Union City (24-4) vs. Wood Memorial (27-1), 10:30 a.m.

Class 2A: Oak Hill (27-1) vs. Eastern-Pekin (22-7), approx. 12:45 p.m.

Class 3A: South Bend St. Joseph (25-2) vs. North Harrison (27-2), 6 p.m.

Class 4A: Homestead (27-2) vs. Pike (24-3), approx. 8:15 p.m.


More USA TODAY High School Sports