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Cavaliers too tall a task for Panthers

– It’s a dimension Canterbury got a glimpse of during last year’s postseason, and one the Cavaliers haven’t had since Tabitha Gerardot played for the Cavs from 2007 to 2010.

The Class 2A No. 3 Cavaliers again used their inside advantage in a 69-59 win over host Snider on Saturday at the Kilmer Classic.

The renewed post presence has come from the full-time playing status of Katherine Smith, who didn’t become eligible to the program until the playoffs last year. Smith helped Canterbury win its second straight Class A state championship. The junior provides a complement inside to the slashing of senior Kindell Fincher and the shooting of junior Darby Maggard.

Fincher led the Cavaliers with 26 points and 11 rebounds, Maggard had 23 points and Smith added 13 points and 10 rebounds.

“(Snider’s) defensive pressure made us have to work on offense,” Canterbury coach Wayne Kreiger said.

“Our transition opportunities were limited so we had to go a half-court game. With Katherine, it helps us from the standpoint that we can play from inside-out. You have to respect the inside game, and that creates more opportunities for our perimeter players.”

The Cavaliers, who moved up to 2A this season, outrebounded the Panthers 37-31. And it’s not just the 6-foot-2 Smith or 5-10 Fincher inside, but also 5-9 Emma Hyndman and 5-8 Katie Haines that give them some size.

“We have outrebounded the three teams we have played, and that always helps,” Smith said. “It creates a nice triangle, … and it creates versatility out on the court.”

Having Smith also gives Canterbury another scoring option after the graduation of Bailey Farley and Aaliyah Gaines. Fincher, who came into the game averaging 35.5 points in two games, draws a lot of attention from opponents.

For Snider, Deja Wimby had 28 points, Karrina Smith 12 and Kiersten Eley 10.

In the second games of the tournament, the Cavaliers (5-0) beat Northrop 60-40 while the Panthers (0-3) lost to Merrillville 75-58.

Having Indiana All-Stars Liza Clemons and Akilah Sims inside in recent years meant the Panthers usually played with a size advantage. This year’s team is different, relying on defense and speed.

“A lot of teams will have what you can’t teach, and that’s size,” Snider coach Kelley Meiklejohn said.

“We have got to work on our transition and take advantage of our strengths, which is running the ball and ball movement on offense to wear those bigs down. We know we don’t have size, but we try to make up for it with our transition.”

gjones@jg.net

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