By Jeff Robison Flyer Correspondent
---- — After the Covenant Christian and Indian Creek girls’ basketball teams traded leads in the final two minutes, Covenant’s Kaitlyn Luikart hit a game-winning 3-point shot with 10 seconds left as the Warriors pulled out a 58-56 victory over the visiting Braves on Saturday afternoon.
In a game where the two teams never separated by more than eight points, the final two minutes included four lead changes to finally determine the victor.
But, Covenant Christian coach Joe Smith found the right hands for the ball to go to for his team’s last shot.
“Kaitlyn is a scorer, and has a scorer’s mentality,” Smith said. “I had told her she would not get yelled at for shooting, and she the confidence to step back and shoot it.”
Luikart, who scored nine of her team-high 16 points in the fourth quarter, did not expect to be in the spotlight for a potential win.
“We were trying to get the ball in the lane,” Luikart said. “But, I did not think we were going to score, so I stepped back and made (the shot).”
Covenant Christian was the aggressor early as sophomore Sarah McLimore and freshman Rachel McLimore paced the squad with some steals and scoring to stake the Warriors in front.
But, Indian Creek fought back as top player Candace Danz, who had 18 points in the first half, rallied her team in the second quarter for a 29-25 lead before Mary Tingle’s rebound basket at the buzzer left the teams equal at 29-29 for the break.
Smith forced the Braves to look elsewhere for points in the second half by using senior Ashley King as a chaser on Danz in a box-and-one defensive alignment. The move worked as it prevented Danz from scoring any more points.
“We had never practiced a box-and-one defense,” Smith said. “But, it still uses some of the same principles that we use defensively. Ashley is our best one-on-one defender, and she took on the challenge.”
However, the Braves adjusted as Alexis McGregor picked up the slack with 13 points in the second half, keeping Indian Creek in the contest, and giving the Braves the first of the final lead changes, as her transition basket made it 54-53.
Free throws by Luikart and Indian Creek point guard Jessica Knight left the Braves still up a point. But Smith regrouped the Warriors during a timeout before Luikart hit the winner, while Indian Creek did not get a final shot attempt off.
“This was a grind-it-out-type of game,” Smith said. “We needed to win this kind of game because this is how it will be in the sectional.”
Danz led all scorers with18 points, while Luikart’s 16 paced the Warriors. But, Luikart had more help as the McLimores combined for 29 points. Danz and McGregor were also the game’s top rebounders with seven each.
The win advance the Warriors to 5-1 for the year, while Indian Creek dropped to 2-5. Covenant Christian returns to action on Thursday, going across town to face Indianapolis Cathedral. Varsity tipoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.