Covenant Christian and Bishop Chatard’s girls basketball teams first met up in an early-season contest at Chatard. A hard fought game netted the Trojans a 47-41 victory. At the time, it seemed innocuous enough. Covenant Christian was playing its first conference game as a member of the Circle City. Bishop Chatard was coming off of a 2-2 campaign from the year before. They will meet again tonight in the semi-finals of the City Alliance Championship as two teams with legitimate title hopes, both for this tournament and in the conference.
Since that conference-opening loss, the Warriors have defeated Brebeuf Jesuit, Guerin Catholic, and Heritage Christian in a major upset. Sitting at 3-1, they need to defeat Roncalli next Friday and have Bishop Chatard drop one of its last two conference games to secure the conference title outright. Head coach Amanda Brown knew her team had potential to compete but has seen her team outpace her expectations.
“Before this season began, I knew that I had a talented group of girls, and the biggest obstacle would be teaching this group to play together,” said Brown. “Each one of my varsity team members has come from different middle schools, and my only senior (Bailey Everett) was coming back from a season-ending knee injury sustained last December. The Circle City is very competitive, but I am very happy that Covenant has been adopted into the conference. My coaching staff and I had a lot of discussion at the beginning of the year about the opportunities we had to make waves in the conference and shake things up. Little did I know that meant an opportunity for the title in our first year. Pretty exciting stuff!”
“The great thing about this squad is that I have seven leaders who can step up big at any time,” Brown added. “Three girls are averaging double digits in scoring, but also contribute across the stat sheet in assists, steals, and rebounds as well. They just so happen to have been chosen by their teammates as team captains this season as well. Bailey Everett leads the way in scoring, averaging 13.7 ppg. Then there is Ilani Williams-Harris at 13 ppg, and Bonnie Ludlow adds 11.5 ppg. Junior, Sania Borom, actually leads the team in player efficiency ratings and is our 4th leading scorer at 8.5 ppg and also leads the team in steals and rebounds.”
Their opponents tonight from Bishop Chatard are sitting at 2-1 in the conference with wins over Covenant Christian and Guerin Catholic and a loss to Heritage Christian. They are playing excellent basketball right now, having won seven of their last nine. Their only two losses during this run have been to 4A Westfield and Lawrence Central. Coach Katie Fisher is excited about the opportunities her team has earned.
“This was definitely something we envisioned and talked about before the season,” Fisher said. “We thought we would be able to compete with anyone we played. We are still aware of the possibility (of the conference title) and are working towards that one game at a time.”
The addition of Zakia Rasheed to play alongside sophomore sensation Moira McGinley has been huge for the Trojans. The two are combining for 30 points, 8 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game on average.
“Kia has made a huge impact on our team,” shared Fisher. “She is our leading scorer, but she does a lot with and without the ball. She is a terrific creator and passer, and because of that, she can set up her teammates for open looks. Kia has helped all of our players elevate their game. She has been a great addition to our team, both on and off the court.”
The Trojans also lead on their seniors for guidance.
“Our key leaders are our seniors, Janie Gleaves, and Grace McGinley,” said Fisher. “While they don’t see much playing time, they keep our team together. They have a team-first attitude and encourage each of our players. I look to them to get our team hype and to get the team together during times of adversity. They have been excellent examples on how to lead. The coaches and I are really proud of them.”
Tonight, the Warriors and Trojans will do battle for the right to play the winner of Cathedral and Heritage Christian for the city crown. Covenant has already defeated both teams, while Bishop Chatard lost close games to both.
Fisher is looking for an intense battle in tonight’s rematch.
“We are expecting this game to be different due to the high stakes of the city tournament,” explained Fisher. “Both teams will without a doubt elevate their games in an effort to win city. We played Covenant Christian the second game of the season, but since then both teams have developed and improved.”
“Tomorrow’s rematch will be a major test for us and our growth as a team,” Brown assessed. “When we played Chatard on November 13th, it was only the 4th game that my team had EVER played together. We are extremely young, with only one senior and two returning varsity players from last year’s squad. The majority of my girls had never played together. I expect that tomorrow’s game will be extremely competitive from the jump. In November’s game, we dug ourselves an early hole in the 1st quarter, but by the 4th quarter, we tied the game up. However, we were unable to overcome our first half deficit. If you asked my players which games they would like to have back, Chatard would be #1.”
As for the conference, both teams will need victories over Roncalli to have a chance at the title. While no one is looking past the opportunities currently at hand, both groups recognize the importance of next week’s matchups.
“I preach to my girls to take it one game at a time,” Covenant Christian’s Brown explained. They each know how big the Roncalli game will be for us, but we are currently focused on the task at hand with the city tournament and then playing Triton Central on Tuesday. Roncalli is tough and well coached, but we plan on giving them a highly competitive game.”
“Roncalli is a very good team, and we will need to play well to compete especially since it is a mid-week road game,” Fisher stated. “They always play hard and are well coached. We will need to play solid defense, take care of the ball, and have good shot selections.”
For an explanation of the conference championship scenarios, visit circlecityconference.com. Tonight’s City Semi-Final game will be broadcast by Indiana SRN.