The Marion County girls basketball tournament has been the property of Ben Davis for the past five seasons.
That may change this year.
"There are six to seven teams that could realistically put together four games and win the county; I'd like to think we are among those teams," said Lawrence North coach Chris Giffin, whose Class 4A No. 7 Wildcats open the event with visiting Perry Meridian (2-4) at 7 p.m. today.
In addition to Lawrence North, which is ranked seventh overall in the state by the Massey Rankings, Pike (sixth), Ben Davis (17th), Roncalli (22nd), Franklin Central (23rd), Decatur Central (27th) and North Central (29th) are legitimate contenders. Like Lawrence North, Pike (4-1) has only lost to Columbus North and has victories over county rivals Ben Davis, Lawrence Central, North Central and Warren Central. Pike and Lawrence North are on opposite sides of the bracket. For a complete schedule see C??.
While Giffin expects Ben Davis to be one of the contenders, the young Giants (1-3) are having major struggles. They were routed by the Wildcats 78-29 last week.
"I think there were several things that came together and became a perfect storm," Giffin said. "I think defensively we came out with a lot of intensity and aggression. We were able to do things defensively that really caused problems for Ben Davis. Coupled with the fact they may not have had a guard or two that played in that game. I'd like to think it was all us but there were things going on with personnel and having an off night that contributed to the margin."
Giffin is in first season as girls coach after spending 10 years as a Wildcats boys basketball assistant. He replaces Jim Etherington, whose squad was 18-5 last season.
"I feel like if the (players) keep buying in and we keep the team concept as our focal point, by the end of the year we are going to be really, really good," Giffin said.
Mikale Rogers, the lone senior regular and an IPUI commitment, is averaging 16 points and seven rebounds. Junior Ana Owens returns as the Wildcats' point guard. Giffin said she struggled in the Wildcats' 64-62 loss to Class 4A No. 2 Columbus North but rebounded to play well against Ben Davis.
"She got the pace of play going and got her teammates involved," Giffin said. "She had eight assists and no turnovers in that game so that was obviously something pleasing to me as coach."
The other two players off to strong starts are junior power forward Destiny Washington and sophomore wing Lamina Cooper.
"They are each averaging about 13 and 14 points and six or seven rebounds," Giffin said. "In Cooper's case, she is averaging four or five steals. They're a big part of what we try to do defensively with the full-court pressure. They're both athletic and can score in a variety of ways."
Covenant is Chuckstrong
A total of 34 Covenant Christian students and staff shaved their heads in support of the ChuckStrong program, which raises funds for leukemia research. It's named for Colts coach Chuck Pagano, who is battling the disease. The students were the largest group to take part in a fundraiser by Great Clips in Speedway. The store was offering free shave and a $10 donation to leukemia research.
Carmel girls place 3rd
The Carmel Distance Project, made up of Carmel High School girls cross country team, finished third in the Nike Cross Nationals on Saturday in Portland, Ore. It was the highest finish for Indiana's girls team, according to Carmel coach Mark Ellington. Carmel was fifth in 2011 and seventh in '10. Gina Genco was the highest finisher for Carmel in 70th, followed by Kelsey Harris, 77th and Kelcy Welch, 81st. The Carmel boys placed 11th of 22 teams at the Nike Cross Nationals. Carmel's top finishers were Robert Browning in 48th and Ben Veatch 52th.