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Greg Jones

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Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
Coach Wayne Kreiger directed Canterbury to its fifth Class A state title in six years Saturday.

Canterbury’s title built on solid foundation

– When Ken Harkenrider took over as Canterbury athletic director from Joe Santa in 1991, girls basketball wasn’t viewed highly from outsiders or from within the school.

“There was the perpetuation of kids not being interested because they saw no hope that there was any degree of success out there,” Harkenrider said Saturday. “Our better athletes didn’t come to it (girls basketball), and they didn’t prepare in the offseason, etc and etc.”

Two things developed over the next decade-plus to change all that – the advent of class basketball and the hiring of Scott Kreiger as coach.

Kreiger began building the program in the late 1990s just as class basketball was getting started, and within a couple of years, the Cavaliers were winning sectional titles and eventually state titles. Canterbury has won five of the last six Class A state championships after its 42-35 win over Vincennes Rivet in the state title game Saturday at Indiana State.

“When it comes to class sports, that’s a classic example,” Harkenrider said.

Kreiger was hired after answering an advertisement in the newspaper.

“And Scott Kreiger falls out of the heavens,” Harkenrider said. “He came in with a very clear vision of what it might look like and put the steps in incrementally to allow it to happen.

“It was like everybody needs to buy into it, and then we start building. Once they get to the point where they can share the concept, it has worked.”

All of Canterbury’s postseason success has come since 2000, with 13 sectional, seven regional and five semistate titles to go along with the handful of state championships.

Kreiger took over the boys program this year, but his father, Wayne, a former Columbia City coach and Indiana Basketball Hall of Famer, stepped in as girls coach this year and the transition was seamless.

“These people have done a great job in the past,” Wayne Kreiger said of building the program. “My son (Scott) was a big part of that, winning four of five. These people have ingrained that we expect to win.”

The school will have a championship celebration at 2 p.m. Monday in the gymnasium.

New challenges await the program with the move to 2A for at least the next two years under the IHSAA’s new success factor.

“The expectations don’t go up, but they sure stay the same because we want to get back here,” sophomore Darby Maggard said.

“Tradition and staying focused on our goal, which is state every year,” junior Kindall Fincher said. “I am looking forward to the challenges. I think we will do great.”

The team will also have to deal with the loss of three seniors, starters Bailey Farley, Aaliyah Gaines and reserve Sarah Rice.

“With the people we have coming back, they have a challenge ahead of them,” Wayne Kreiger said. “We will move up to 2A, so it will be a different look from that standpoint.”

Greg Jones is the high school sports editor for The Journal Gazette and has been covering sports in the Fort Wayne area since 1998. He can be reached by email; phone, 461-8224; or fax 461-8648.