Nobody gave Concordia Lutheran the message that they weren’t supposed to win on Friday night. No knock on anyone involved, but Angola was on the best roll in Northeast Indiana, entering Friday’s Class 3A Sectional semi final on a 20 game winning streak.
Angola was supposed to win Friday night. Angola was supposed to win a second straight Sectional title. Concordia just didn’t get that memo. Or, just as likely, they didn’t care.
But as the final scoreboard, on a night of really fun games, illuminated: the Cadets are the ones heading to Saturday’s championship, 42-32 winners over Angola.
“We haven’t won anything yet. We beat a good team tonight but we have one more to take care of,” Concordia Lutheran coach Dave Miller said postgame. “Angola is a really nice basketball team. Our kids played hard.”
And much respect to Concordia for how they got there. They built leads, they sustained leads, then had to rebuild leads but they certainly never let Angola get much footing. Rhaya Kaschinke had one of the best games of her career with one of the toughest matchups she may ever be asked to win, defending Angola’s Hanna Knoll, one of the best pure scorers in our area. Yet Knoll scored just 11 points and it took her nearly 20 minutes to get her first bucket as Kaschinske hounded her every step of the way. One of Kaschinske’s highlight stops came with 39.5 seconds left in the third when she drew a five second closely guarded call against an active Knoll on the wing.
“With my team, we just had to get out on shooters. She’s a great shooter so we knew we had to get out on her to take away as many threes as possible to get this game done,” Kaschinske said.
“She’s outstanding. You can’t bring her off the floor,” Miller said of Kaschinske’s play.
And with Knoll not hitting, Angola has to go to the rim.
Problem there: Chanteese Craig was in the way. Eight times. Block after block. So what do you do if you are Angola? You aren’t hitting perimeter shots, your leading scorer isn’t getting any space and the paint belongs to the opposing post. Angola just didn’t have the options they wanted or are used to on Friday night. It was an Angola problem dictated by the fact that Concordia didn’t seem to care one iota who they were playing. Any win-loss discrepancy seemed unimportant, as did last years Sectional outcome that was the opposite of Friday night’s. Concordia was confident that they could stop Angola.
That same confidence exuded even more offensively. Angola’s biggest perk is that their smother full court defense pressure gives teams pause. Concordia never slowed down too much, they just went to work. To Craig down low, to Kaschinske or LonDynn Betts on the drive, to CC Calloway or Grace Hedtke on the perimeter, Concordia was just better on Friday; better in the moments that mattered, including a massive Hedtke three pointer with 4:36 left in the game right in front of the Cadet bench to give Concordia a 34-30 and all of the sudden comfortable lead.
“Take care of the basketball, move without the ball. We just wanted to pass and cut and see what we could get off of that,” Miller said of late game planning on Friday night. “And we just have to get stops. They hit a couple of threes and so that tightened it up again so we talked about that and not over helping defensively.”
And in the end, Concordia knew they were better, all pre-Sectional projections to the contrary.
A portion of that can be attributed perhaps to the SAC schedule. While Angola didn’t play a slouch schedule this season by any means, there is an old saying that iron sharpens iron. The SAC is a ringer to go through, ripe with stunning athletes, tough games, wild defenses and never say die attitudes. Concordia didn’t always come out on top in those game, but they certainly have been sharpened by them.
“The SAC definitely helped us get our momentum for this and to be as strong as we could be coming into the postseason,” Kaschinske said.
“I like our schedule, our schedule is pretty solid,” Miller added. “We’ve had a lot of close games this season so it just makes you tougher.”
The postseason is a crazy place. Friday at Concordia, in the nightcap, proved that it just takes one team doing the right things at the right time. Then everything we thought we knew just wasn’t anymore. And all the praise to Concordia. Because while all the experts – myself included – knew that Angola was supposed to win this Sectional, Concordia didn’t know that. It never seeped into their brains; if it did, they surely didn’t show any signs that thought process existed.
Hedtke’s three triples contributed to her team 11 points in the Concordia win. Craig followed it up with nine points, Calloway had eight, Betts seven and Kaschinske rounded Concordia out with six points.
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