In a word – trust. Thats been the key for the Warsaw girls basketball teams run to todays Class 4A semistate against South Side (23-3).
The Tigers (24-1) are making their seventh semistate appearance and first since 2004, and they are doing it because of a faith that has been built on a strong bond within the team that has translated into poise in the postseason.
The chemistry between our team in the fourth quarter is great because a lot of times when teams are down or in tight-knit situations like that, you begin to bicker occasionally and things can become tense, Warsaw senior Jennifer Walker-Crawford said. To have that close-knit relationships with your team, and they are going to have your back no matter what, win or lose, is great. You are not afraid to mess up and not afraid to do what you do.
Walker-Crawford had 19 points and 11 rebounds in the No. 8 Tigers 42-41 win over No. 5 Merrillville in the Valparaiso Regional finals last Saturday, but it was senior Melanie Holladays offensive rebound and basket with 20 seconds left that was the game-winner.
It was a play the rest of the team expected Holladay to make.
We trusted (Holladay), Warsaw senior Lindsay Baker said. To make big plays, you have to trust each other. Thats what it came down to was keeping our composure and keeping our trust in each other and pulling out a huge game.
A huge part of our team is that we are a veteran team. We have played together pretty much for three years, and thats something you dont find much in a high school team. It is a huge reason we can pull out games by one point. We keep composure really well, and it is because we trust each other because we have played with each other so much.
Walker-Crawford said it was a position Holladay has seemingly always occupied.
Melanie Holladay has always been there in that spot, all year, Walker-Crawford said. It wasnt just luck because Mel has always been there to get that offensive rebound.
The Tigers used that experience in a 49-42 win over No. 15 Penn in the regional semifinals, their second win over the Kingsmen this year.
These girls all year long have been coming out and playing so well together as a team and keeping their composure and keeping their poise out there on the floor, Warsaw coach Michelle Harter said. The first half of both games in the regional we came out a little tight, and with the experience and leadership we have, we were able to make the adjustments we needed to make in the second half.
That says so much about the girls and their knowledge of the game, and their decision and the sacrifices they have made to be able to come out and make those adjustments. When the game was tight, they were able to do the little fundamental things that we had talked about that would win us a regional.
Class 2A: Eastern (Greentown) (21-3) vs. Bishop Luers (14-11), 4 p.m.
Class 4A: South Side (23-3) vs. Warsaw (24-1), 6 p.m.
Class A: Lafayette Central Catholic (17-9) vs. Canterbury (23-3), 1 p.m.
Class 3A: Hamilton Heights (22-2) vs. Benton Central (22-3), 3 p.m.