The Roncalli High School girls basketball team seemed on the verge of being blown out early, trailing Lawrence North by as many as 16 points in the second quarter.
"It was a wake-up call," Roncalli senior Bridget Perry of the deficit. "We were playing on our heels."
Once the Class 4A No. 5 Rebels answered the alarm, they grabbed control in the second half en route to a 65-55 victory over the No. 3 Wildcats and a sectional title Saturday at Lawrence Central. Roncalli (22-3) will face Brownsburg (20-3) in the Decatur Central Regional semifinals Saturday at approximately noon. Mooresville will play Connersville at 10 a.m.; the championship game is at 8 p.m.
"We were hungry to beat them because we lost to them twice by four points in the (Marion) County championship and at home," said Perry, who delivered team highs of 23 points and 12 rebounds. "We want to play our absolute hardest and really focus. We all had the will to win."
However, the Rebels might have been pressing early in the game. They fell behind 30-14 early in the second quarter.
"We played nervous," Roncalli coach April Schilling said. "Lindsey Corsaro kept us in it. We went to her down the stretch in the second quarter. Going to her was the only thing working then. For a freshman to step up like that, it's big time."
Corsaro scored 13 of her 21 points in the second quarter as the Rebels cut the halftime deficit to 34-25.
"We knew we had to bring the same energy and spark as we did in our run in the second quarter," Corsaro said.
The Rebels held a 23-8 advantage in the third quarter to take a 48-42 lead.
"In the second half, we got our confidence back and started attacking instead of just being on our heels," Schilling said.
Perry, a 6-2 guard/forward who has signed with Purdue, scored 10 in the third quarter, and 6-1 center Elizabeth Bowers added six.
"I challenged Bowers at halftime because I knew we needed her to win, and she stepped up for us," Schilling said. "She gave us a presence inside we didn't have in the first half. Then with Bridget playing with confidence and attacking the basket, it made us hard to guard in that quarter."
The Wildcats went scoreless for the first 5:25 of the fourth quarter. Lawrence North point guard Ana Owens, who has committed to Cincinnati, fouled out midway through the final quarter. Senior forward Mikale Rogers was high for the Wildcats (21-4) with 14 points. The Wildcats were 5-of-19 from the 3-point line.
"When they shoot long shots, the rebounds come out long and a lot of times that turns into transition," Schilling said. "That's what our defense is built on."