Chesterton Tribune

Photo: CHS wins sectional in basketball

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Sectional Champs: The Chesterton girls basketball team picked up its first Sectional title since 1994 with a 50-43 upset over No. 9 Merrillville Saturday night at Valparaiso High School. The Trojans will face No. 1 South Bend Washington in the first game of Regionals next Saturday at 9:30 a.m. at Valparaiso. Pictured are, front row (l to r), Kelly Peller, Rachel Hargarten, Molly Rau, Katie Stahura and Katie Talbert. Second row (l to r) are Abby Skube, Angela Richardson, Katrina Pradziad, Kristin Kalita, Kate Bement, Maddie Wilk, Katie Schneckenberger and Stacy Stawitcke. Back row (l to r) are Athletic Director Garry Nallenweg, Principal James Goetz, Assistant Coach Fred Mitchell, Head Coach Jack Campbell, Assistant Coach Tracie Mezera, Trainer Nancy Furcsik and Assistant Coach Gary Richardson. (Tribune photo by Dana Gilbertson)



The quintet of seniors on the Chesterton girls basketball team probably don’t remember Villanova-Georgetown, but the adults in the crowd Saturday night at Valparaiso High School might have remembered.

The Trojans vanquished memories of a 10-point and 18-point loss during the regular season by topping the Merrillville Pirates 50-43 in the Sectional finals.

“We talked about being against all odds,” Chesterton coach Jack Campbell said after his team won its first Sectional title since 1994. “What a great effort by everybody. It’s just a great win.”

Chesterton tried to start the game in a stall to hold the score down, but turned the ball over on its first three possessions and fell behind 4-0.

“Unfortunately it didn’t work and we just had to play them,” Campbell said of the game plan. “The girls weren’t worried early, but the rest of us on the bench were like, well, that’s not working.”

Katrina Pradziad scored on a 15-footer, but Merrillville answered with six more points and 10-2 lead. Kelly Peller scored eight first quarter points for the Trojans on her way to 29, but the Pirates held a 17-10 lead after the first stanza.

“We ask Kelly to do an awful lot,” Campbell said. “For three games, she came up with passes when we needed them. Tonight we needed her to score 29 points, so she did.”

“Did we panic? Maybe a little,” Peller said of the slow start. There’s always intimidation when they’ve got two 6-3 girls. We realized that you have to go back to what works. I thought we executed real well against their speed and quickness.”

Those two 6-3 girls, Sharon Houston and Brittney Moore, dominated the interior most of the night. Houston, headed to Old Dominion, finished with 19 points and 15 rebounds, while Moore, a Xavier-signee, had 10 points and nine boards.

“We tried to put as much pressure on them as we could,” Pradziad said. “Coach has been working with us every day since the last time we played them. He taught us our footwork and everything and it paid off today.”

Pradziad and Peller combined for a 6-0 run early in the second quarter pulling the Trojans within 19-16. Katie Stahura’s 3-pointer with 2:26 to play in the half made it 24-23.

“I’m so lucky to be on a team that gets along so well and everybody’s in it for the right reasons,” Peller said. “I love them to death and I can’t imagine next year without them.”

Both defenses locked up in the third quarter as the Pirates outscored Chesterton 6-4 for a 34-29 lead with eight minutes to play.

Peller hit a pair of free throws that cut the lead to 34-31 with 6:57 to play and it was purely a sign of things to come. Peller hit 13-of-14 free throws in the fourth quarter.

“When you go to the foul line, it’s all about rhythm,” Peller said. “I felt great up there. I just knew if I made them it was two more points for my team.

“I was more calm than anything. I’m surprised, but I just felt like that was where I was supposed to be right then.”

Two more free throws by Peller tied the game for the first time at 39-all with 3:00 to play. It was the start of an 8-0 run. Rachel Hargarten’s runner on the baseline 41 seconds later gave the Trojans their first lead.

“We had a lot of kids make big baskets,” Campbell said. “Rachel, we ran a special play, it didn’t work. She picked it up and scored. Maddie (Wilk) made a critical basket. Kat (Pradziad) fought through being sick the last two days.

“It’s just a great win for this group of kids.” Houston scored with just under a minute to go, but Peller hit five-of-six free throws in the final 52.9 seconds for the victory.

“Everybody spends a lot of time in the offseason and summer,” Campbell said. “But, I’ve never had a group of seniors that committed that much time to getting better.

“We talked about the journey becoming more important than the destination. This one game wasn’t going to make of break the season. It’s just icing on the cake.”

Chesterton (10-15-4-21)

Katie Stahura 1 2-2 5, Rachel Hargarten 3 0-0 6, Kelly Peller 5 17-19 29, Maddie Wilk 1 0-2 2, Katrina Pradziad 3 2-2 8, Katie Talbert 0 0-0 0, Abby Skube 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 21-25 50.

Merrillville (17-11-6-9)

Britney Cruse 0 0-0 0, Angela East 1 0-0 2, Sharon Houston 8 3-4 19, Gina Howard 3 0-0 6, Brittney Moore 3 4-7 10, Jamesha Harris 2 0-0 4, Chrissy Lobodinski 0 0-0 0, Britney Curry 1 0-0 2. Totals 18 7-11 43.

3-point field goals: Stahura, Peller 2 (C).

Rebounds: Peller 7 (C); Houston 15 (M).

Assists: Stahura 2 (C); Moore 3 (M).

Steals: Peller 3 (C); Cruse 2, Harris 2 (M).


Posted 2/13/2006