KENDALLVILLE – If you browsed the court on Saturday night as the Carroll Chargers celebrated a Sectional title after a 75-55 win over Northrop, you’d see a lot of smiles and plenty of hugs among the photo opportunities.
Emily Parrett is over here being interviewed by media after her game high 28 point performance. Over there are seniors Olivia Hoeppner, Malia Williams and Brianna Thomas posing with the Sectional trophy. But where is the architect of all of this? Where is Mark Redding?
And then I see him. Sitting alone on the Carroll bench, enjoying a sip of his drink and taking it all in. He is as calm as anyone has seen the Charger head coach on that bench all night long, even in a game that was mostly in hand during the first quarter. This was Redding’s fourth straight Sectional title and the ninth of his 25 season career. Mark Redding has been here before so he doesn’t need to celebrate. Instead, aware of what this means to the girls on his team, he will take a breath and let them soak it all in.
“You just enjoy the time,” Redding said a little poignantly, a little stoically. “They are well deserved. Let’s enjoy this, come back Monday and then we will get ready for Regionals. Let’s just enjoy it while we can because this is a special time for them and I want them to enjoy it.”
It was a night even more enjoyable for the senior trio. For the first time in school history, that class will graduate without ever losing a Sectional.
The Chargers jumped out to a major lead rather quickly against Northrop, a team the Chargers had split games with this season. While Carroll beat Northrop in the regular season, the Bruins were the aggressors and victors during the SAC Holiday Tournament in December.
This time though, Carroll flew into passing lanes and cut off Northrop’s best early attempts. Midway through the opening frame, a Williams three pushed the Charger lead to 13-2 and highlighted Carroll’s ability to move the ball efficiently while staying spread out with their passing. Immediately after the three, the Chargers stole the ball back yet, leading to a Hoeppner jumper. When Parrett grabbed her own rebound and put it back through heavy contact with 57.6 seconds left in the first, the lead increased to 26-3 and was officially out of hand.
“We felt like we had to prove ourselves because we didn’t play well in the Holiday Tournament. I challenged the girls to go out and play with intensity. We did exactly what they needed, we didn’t get over aggressive in our press,” Redding said. “We played off of their mistakes and were able to capitalize on turnovers and being able to score. That’s how we got out, because we were able to get those turnovers to become points for us.”
Carroll was always ready to throw on a trap and ready to continue to dive into passing lanes in the second quarter. They extended their lead to a game high 26 points with 4:24 left when Parrett created a fast break and found Saniya Jackson for a score.
Northrop came out of the halftime break with urgency with Carroll even looking a little sluggish at trying to continue their frantic pace. The Bruins crawled back to within 14 points on a J’Asia Scott and-one, but Parrett immediately fired back, going coast to coast to seize back control for the Chargers that they never lost.
“We thought if we spread them out, we could attack but Northrop did a great job attacking and making some shots,” Redding said. “They got it down to 14 and all of the sudden we are in a panic mode. Then Taylor [Fordyce] gets a three, we get an and-one and it just seems to take the pressure off and we were able to relax.”
The final punctuation, of course, came from Parrett. With 5:09 left in the game, Parrett again fought off significant contact to push the Chargers back ahead by 20 at 64-44. Parrett finished a game high 28 points, followed by 10 points each from Hoeppner and Delane Sheets with Williams, Jackson and Fordyce each scoring nine.
The run through the Sectional round was critical for Carroll after missing players at various times in the last month, never really playing at full strength. Parrett has been playing injured for most of the year while Hoeppner was out with an illness since before Christmas, returning just last Friday for Senior Night.
“You have two great players out, other girls stepped up and it gave them opportunities to play and show what they can do. That just made us stronger off the bench so when our bench came in, our bench picks us up and scores,” Redding said.
And Carroll did pick each other up throughout the year. Maybe they didn’t need to much in a Sectional bracket that they ran through. Carroll didn’t end up being challenged much this week in comparison to some runs in their schedule. When you add that to their consistency with adding to the trophy case, you could consider Saturday night a lot of things, including commonplace . But for Carroll and for Redding, it was just as special as any other.
The win marked the 10th sectional title in the history of Carroll’s program. They will play at Marion in Regional play next Saturday against conference foe Homestead at noon.
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