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The Journal Gazette

  • Carroll captured the DeKalb sectional, winning their third straight sectional championship for the first time in program history. The Chargers beat Northrop 61-48. (Dylan Sinn)

Tuesday, February 05, 2019 1:00 am

Carroll 61 Northrop 48

Chargers' third consecutive title 'special'

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

WATERLOO – For the first time in program history, the Carroll girls basketball team has won three sectional championships in a row.

Despite starter Olivia Hoeppner missing the game with an illness, the Chargers overcame a third-quarter deficit behind a huge 32-point performance from Malia Williams and 16 points for Delane Sheets to defeat Northrop 61-48 on Monday and capture the Class 4A sectional title at DeKalb.

It was the second straight season the Chargers (14-9) beat the Bruins (13-10) to win the sectional. Chants of “We are Carroll” echoed through the gym in the closing seconds as a pro-Chargers crowd made its excitement felt. 

“It's special,” Carroll coach Mark Redding said. “We're so young, we haven't been in this situation before (with this group). I told the girls, when you lose 95 percent of your offense (from a year ago), 95 percent of your team and to be in this situation, that says a lot about these girls and their perseverance.”

The game was a back-and-forth affair until midway through the third quarter, when Williams took over. The junior guard nailed a pair of high-arcing 3-pointers from the top of the key on back-to-back possessions, turning a tied game into a 35-29 Carroll lead and forcing Northrop to burn a timeout.

“We weren't making (shots) in the beginning and our energy was kind of low,” Williams said. “When I shot (those 3-pointers), I just kind of knew they were going in.”

At the start of the fourth quarter, it was Williams extending the lead again. She started the quarter with a driving layup, then immediately added another layup on the fast break after a Northrop turnover. The latter basket made it 43-32 and the Bruins again called timeout.

After the break, Northrop went into a full-court press, but Williams broke it and raced down the middle of the court, drawing a crowd of defenders before dishing off for another layup that essentially put the game away with five minutes to go. Williams had 24 points in the second half.

“What makes (Williams) special is she's not afraid to shoot,” Redding said. “She wasn't hitting early on, but that didn't stop her. She had openings, she took the shots and she canned them. That was big for us.”

The Chargers got a setback earlier in the day when Hoeppner came down with the flu and realized she wouldn't be able to play. Despite her illness, she was on the bench supporting her team. When she climbed the ladder to cut her piece of the net, her teammates cheered in unison.

“That's why I love my team,” Hoeppner said.

Carroll made history with its third straight sectional title, but it came with an almost completely different roster than the veteran-laden one that captured the first two. This group is just getting started.

“It's just exciting for us, especially since all of us are new varsity members because last year we lost all of our seniors,” Williams said. “It's just exciting to be able to experience it together.”

As a reward for their championship, Carroll gets the honor of meeting top-ranked Hamilton Southeastern (23-1) at the Kokomo Regional on Saturday. Redding didn't want to let that daunting task ruin the celebration.

“Let's enjoy this one,” he said, laughing. “I don't want to think about Hamilton Southeastern right now.”

dsinn@jg.net