LA PORTE – Carroll coach Mark Redding told his players they simply missed a few shots that went in and out, and that was the difference their 62-46 Class 4A semistate loss to Crown Point at LaPorte on Saturday.
It's the sort of thing that happens in basketball games – to most teams, anyway. But it didn't happen very often to the Bulldogs (24-1) on Saturday, and especially not to junior guard Jessica Carrothers, who scored 28 points to power Crown Point to its fifth semistate title and first since 1997.
“I told the girls, you have nothing to be ashamed about. Because one, look at the year you had. And two, look how you played today,” Redding said. “You gave everything you had. You played hard. Not one time can we say you didn't go out there and give everything you had.”
The Chargers (25-3) took an early lead as back-to-back 3-pointers by sophomore sisters Saniya and Nevaeh Jackson put Carroll up 12-5 midway through the first quarter. But the Bulldogs would score the final eight points of the quarter: Junior guard Alyvia Santiago hit a 3-pointer and then, with just seconds left on the clock, Carrothers grabbed the rebound of a missed 3-point attempt by Carroll's Taylor Fordyce, dribbled to the top of the Carroll key and then let loose a full-body, nearly-three-quarters-court heave that fell perfectly through the net.
It was a forewarning of the sharp-shooting Carrothers would display through the rest of the day: She would not attempt another 3-pointer, but shot 2 of 3 from the floor in the second quarter, 3 of 6 in the third quarter and 4 of 6 in the fourth.
Although the momentum seemed to be in the Bulldogs' favor at halftime, they only led 26-20. In the second half, the Chargers closed the gap to as few as two points, but every time Carroll narrowed the gap Crown Point went on another run. The Bulldogs led 42-34 at the end of the third quarter and then pulled further and further away.
“When we got it down to 2, we rushed some things when we didn't need to,” Redding said. “You work your way back, and we just weren't patient enough. But a lot of that goes to Crown Point and how they played. Every time we made a run, they countered. It was no different than what we did to Homestead.”
Saniya Jackson led the Chargers with 15 points – six of which came in the third quarter, while Delane Sheets had 11, Nevaeh Jackson 8, Fordyce 6 and senior Emily Parrett four in her final high school game.
Purdue commit Lilly Stoddard scored 12 points for the Bulldogs, Alyna Santiago scored 10 points (eight of them from the free throw line, including six in the fourth quarter) and Alyvia Santiago finished with nine points, all from 3.