CROWN POINT, Ind. — A relentless style put Oregon-Davis ahead early on Saturday.
It never ceased until the end of a 67-46 win over Lafayette Central Catholic in a Class A semistate.
Forcing six turnovers in the first three minutes, the Bobcats jumped to a 9-2 lead before LCC head coach Craig DeVault had to call a timeout to calm his team.
“We knew we had to throw the first punch,” said Alicia McIntosh, who scored the first seven points of the game for O-D. “Usually the first couple minutes sets the tone for the whole game for us. To come out and do that for my team, it’s going to help the rest of the game out.”
LCC responded to cut the margin to 17-16 at the end of the first quarter, but the Bobcats were just getting started. The second quarter opened with an 8-0 Oregon-Davis run to gain firm control of a game slowed by referees whistling 24 fouls in the first half. Still, the Bob-cats possessed a 32-26 lead at the break.
“It was frustrating. It wasn’t like they were going one way,” said O-D coach Terry Minix. “They were calling it fair, I thought. We were just a little over aggressive at times.”
The Bobcats (22-2) were called for a number of fouls in the backcourt with their full-court press. With the foul trouble, Minix had to rely on his bench through long stretches. Starting guard Ashley Campbell remained in the game to lead an unusual lineup.
“She basically willed us to a win,” Minix said. “She handled the ball. She helped with the D. I had kids on the floor that really rarely play. She went out there and acted like she had her regular starters out there. That says a lot of a kid like that. She’s a true leader and a heck of a ballplayer.”
Campbell’s play impressed her coach so much that he nearly exhausted her.
“I never took her out until she passed out,” Minix said. “That’s kinda my style. If you don’t pass out, I’m going to leave you on the floor.”
That style left LCC (19-6) more exhausted by the end of the game. A nine-point O-D lead to start the fourth quarter stretched to as much as 23.
Seven players scored at least four points for the Bobcats with McIntosh (18) and Campbell (15) leading the way. Haley Collings added 10 points.
“The great thing about us is we do have a bench,” McIntosh said. “Taylor (Kranenburg) came in and stepped up and played awesome. So did Kendra (Sauer). Even Alex Bope stepped up pretty well. For them to do that on a big night like this is awesome.”
The Knights relied on a six-player rotation for most of the game, led by 18 points from Angela Tharp and 12 from Emily Denhart.
The fouls slightly favored LCC, but the Knights failed to take advantage of opportunities at the free throw line. An 11-of-24 effort from the charity stripe left LCC playing catch-up all game. A few missed layups added to the misery.
“(We needed to) finish inside in the paint,” DeVault said. “We missed a lot of easy layups. If we could have connected on those and our free throws, it could have been a game.”
The win places the Bobcats in the Class 1-A state championship against Vincennes Rivet (22-4) next Saturday in Terre Haute. A nearly four-hour drive and a 36-minute game separate O-D from its second state title and first since 2007.
“I’ll drive 10 hours if they let me play in the state championship every year, to be honest with you,” Minix said. “To be able to drive and be with these kids one more week — wow, it’s going to be a lot of fun.”