FORT WAYNE – South Side will have another big matchup with Bedford North Lawrence this season.
The No. 11 Archers (24-3) will again face the No. 2 Stars (27-0), who feature two tall sophomore post players to contend with in 6-foot-2 Dominique McBryde (14.6 points, 5.7 rebounds) and 6-3 Jenna Allen (14.3 points, 7.8 rebounds).
And the rematch will be for the Class 4A state championship, Saturday at Indiana State University in Terre Haute.
South Side, which has a pair of 5-11 starters in Ariana Simmons and Brittni Clopton, struggled with the Stars’ size the first time in a 63-39 loss at Bedford on Jan. 26, the second-to-last regular season game.
That game itself was a great test for us, South Side coach Juanita Goodwell said. It was a devastating loss, but it helped us get to this point.
We have to work better in protecting our bigs, but that’s how we were able to get past Westfield (in the regional semifinals) and their height. The first time around we didn’t have the experience. It was the first time that we faced anyone who was bigger than Ariana (Simmons). That alone is something that is valuable at this point. We have now faced three teams (BNL, Westfield, Logansport) who have height. We will have to make sure we are ready for that.
The Archers, who beat host Warsaw 47-44 in the semistate, learned some valuable lessons from the loss and have won six straight games since to reach the school’s first-ever girls state finals.
We definitely want to redeem ourselves because it wasn’t our game, Clopton said of playing the Stars before. We weren’t mentally prepared, but now we have won since that game in the regular season, and we are going to give them the fight of their lives whether they like it or not.
Allen makes 67 percent of her field goals (149 of 221), while McBryde is almost as good, shooting 66 percent (146 of 223), but Goodwell said the South Side defense will also have to contend with the Stars’ shooters, including junior Brittani Rizzi (11.6 points).
When she is on, she is on, Goodwell said of Rizzi. She started the last game with two three-pointers that were daggers at that point. We have to do a good job of protecting the inside, but also keeping an eye on their shooters.
Bedford North Lawrence had to rally in the semistate just to make the school’s fourth state appearance and first in class basketball. The Stars beat Indianapolis Roncalli 66-52 in overtime after trailing by 11 entering the fourth quarter.
The last time the two teams played, the Archers were coming off a 64-29 win the night before against Northrop that clinched the SAC regular-season championship.
We learned different things from that game, and we have played some big people these past couple of weekends so we know how to work more around them, junior Lakyn Gulley said. We worked on a lot of stuff that hopefully we will be prepared for. We can’t let them get out so quick this time.