The Heritage Christian High School girls basketball team appears to be well ahead of schedule.
Despite having no seniors on the roster and only one junior in the regular rotation, the Class 2A No. 2 Eagles (24-2) are one game away from reaching the 2A state championship game.
"They are playing stronger than what their grade (levels) would indicate," Eagles coach Rick Risinger said. "They all have good basketball experience. It's pretty close-knit team. They stay together on and off the floor."
The youthful Eagles face a tall task in facing No. 1 Evansville Mater Dei (26-2), the defending 2A state champion, at 4 p.m. Saturday in the semistate at Bedford North Lawrence
Junior Maura Muensterman, who recently committed to Indiana University, averages a team-high 23.2 points. Sophomore center Tori Schickel averages 19.5 points for Mater Dei.
The Eagles will counter with scoring balance.
"We have a six-player rotation that at any time any one of them can be dominant," Risinger said.
"Darby Foresman comes off the bench but could easily be a starter.
Tyasha Harris averages a team-high 12.4 points, followed by Sydney Hall (11.6), Allison Scofield (10.7), Peyton Fallis (9.4), Foresman (7.5) and Natalie Orr (6.7). Orr is a junior. Harris and Foresman are freshmen and the rest are sophomores.
"I think we're peaking at the right time," said Risinger, whose Eagles won four consecutive Class 2A state titles from 2006-09.
Rebels face road test
Coach April Schilling isn't thrilled her Class 4A No. 5 Roncalli squad (24-3) has to face No. 2 Bedford North Lawrence (26-0) on its home floor in the semistate.
However, Schilling knows it's something they can't control.
"We're not focusing on it," Schilling said. "We know it's a factor. It's how it's set up so we're just going to go there and compete the best we can. We'll bring as many as can down to Bedford."
The IHSAA sets semistate sites before the season. Bedford North Lawrence also hosted the regional.
The Stars (26-0) humbled No. 1 Columbus North 71-45 in the regional opener. That certainly caught Schilling's attention as one of the Rebels' three losses was 40-37 to Columbus North on Dec. 22.
"Bedford is a very well-rounded and balanced team," Schilling said. "They have a great inside presence as well as great shooters. They can hurt you in many different ways.
"We're excited just going about going down and competing against one of the best teams in Indiana, probably in the Midwest and maybe in the nation."
Mt. Vernon is one step closer to returning to the Class 3A state title game.
However, what Marauders coach Julie Shelton describes as "an extremely physical" Rushville team will try to block that path at the Richmond semistate.
"It's probably the best offensive rebounding team I've seen in 3A this year," Shelton said. "We're going to have to work on rebounding and not letting their physicalness (affect us) They are a very good team and obviously when you get to the final four you expect that."
Mt. Vernon has two starters, Erica Moore and Rachel Houck, returning from last season's team, which lost to Fort Wayne Concordia.