TERRE HAUTE – Three seasons later, the formula remains the same for Concordia.
Its recipe for winning a Class 3A state championship involves unheralded players with an unwavering work ethic, solid defensive fundamentals and a close-knit nature.
Concordia won its second Class 3A state title in three seasons with a 42-39 win over Mt. Vernon (Fortville) on Saturday at the Hulman Center at Indiana State, using those principles again with an almost new core of players.
“These kids compete, and they have tremendous heart,” Concordia coach Dave Miller said. “It starts with the seniors, and it just trickles down to everybody else. What a legacy they have left behind.”
The Cadets (21-5) also won the 2010 3A state championship at Memorial Coliseum.
“Concordia has great kids and great scholar-athletes,” Miller said. “They are very intelligent, and that’s pretty evident when you watch them play. You can be pretty successful then.”
This one, though, might have been more unexpected than the first.
“This team is really close, and none of us are really D-I players,” senior Annalissa Kammeyer said. “We just love the game.”
The Marauders (23-6) came in as the second-ranked team in 3A, while the Cadets were No. 7.
“We don’t pay any attention to not being the favorites,” said senior Lauren Marinko, whose team knocked off No. 3 NorthWood in the Bellmont Regional finals. “We weren’t even supposed to make it out of sectional, so that doesn’t mean a lot to us.”
Marinko scored 17 points, including the team’s final eight points Saturday.
After the game, Marinko was awarded the 3A mental attitude award by retiring Concordia principal John Marks, a member of the IHSAA Executive Committee.
“I can’t take too much credit for that award,” Marinko said. “Without this team and the whole program behind me, it is so easy to have a good attitude.”
Sophomore Courtney Smith added nine points, while senior Breanne Smith had eight, including two big jumpers in the third.
Marinko scored 10 points in the fourth as the Cadets held off the Marauders. She picked up her fourth foul in the third, but didn’t foul out.
“Honestly I forgot I had four fouls, and that really helped me get back into a rhythm,” Marinko said.
Concordia did it on defense, just as it has done during this improbable postseason run.
Mt. Vernon made only 13 of 41 (32 percent) from the field, and the Cadets won the rebounding battle against a bigger Marauder team, 28-22.
“When (the five seniors) came into the program … a big, big concept that we always were taught was blocking out,” Kammeyer said. “You always blocked out, no matter what happens. It was ingrained in us since Day 1.”
Mt. Vernon’s team featured three 6-footers.
“Physically, it didn’t appear we could match up with them,” Miller said. “We talked with the kids that the team who was more aggressive and has the most composure would win this game. We brought a lot of those things.”
Concordia outscored Mt. Vernon 30-23 in the second half.
After making just 5 of 18 shots in the first half, the Cadets cashed in on 10 of 15 in the second half.
“Anytime you make shots, it makes it easier to play defense on the other end,” Miller said. “Defense should be constant, but that mentally gives you a lift if you can make some shots.”
Jessica Brown led Mt. Vernon with 17 points.