BOUNCE: Carroll closes out SAC title as Snider proves they are perhaps the team to beat in the future

Carroll’s Saniya Jackson (12) skies to take the rebound away from Snider’s Samantha Kabisch during a January 29 game. (Photo by Leverage Photography)

Friday’s game between Carroll and Snider was something that had intrigue build and build all season long. It was arguably the most important game in the SAC up until the point it wasn’t.

Even with the the lack of a true SAC title game didn’t diminish this contest; and yes it did still have title implications, just not major ones due to Carroll’s two game lead in the conference coming into the night. Carroll is a team who wanted to win, wanted to close out this title the right way that they’ve been searching years for. But Snider was just as hungry, another point to prove and heading into the same Sectional as Carroll, this was about momentum too.

In the end, Carroll did what they’ve done all season: just win. Despite a big first half deficit and really next to no good footing with a lead late, Carroll picked up the 79-75 win to claim an outright SAC title behind 26 points from Saniya Jackson.

The first quarter was the tempo you probably expected and it was a showcase of Johnea Donahue (you can call her Nae Nae) of Snider and Jackson. Donahue, part of this highly respected freshman class at Snider took the ball time after time right in front of the Carroll bench and and drove baseline to finish at the rim. It required a timeout from Carroll coach Mark Redding once Snider pulled out to a 13-6 lead. Donahue has a huge bag of tricks, but she certainly wasn’t shy about going to the same well over and over until Carroll could dry it out. Donahue had 10 of Snider’s first 13 points.

Jackson was ready to push back on the other end with a few baskets in a row of her own finding gaps up the middle. Carroll, while having to fight back from a game that was once 17-8, took advantage of Snider mistakes. They found gaps in the defense and leaked out on Panther misses to try and pile up easy buckets.

This game was perfect to start. The champs, the future and a frenetic pace that no basketball fan could dislike. A Jaiden Eastom bucket at the first quarter buzzer gave Snider a 26-16 lead. The future was thriving.

Snider had pushed their lead to 33-16 in the second quarter before Jasmine Anderson started inflicting her will in and and around the basket. It is things like Anderson’s second quarter emergence that make Carroll to intriguing and unpredictable. Anderson hasn’t been a big focus on the offensive end this season, but Carroll has so many weapons that it isn’t surprise when secondary faces shine but it’s always packing a wow factor. Even though Snider pushed their lead back to 16 a couple of times, Carroll made a run to close out the half.

Face it folks, the Chargers are electric. And big runs have made them all season. Big runs with the lead, big runs in close games, big runs when they are down; there is a reason why Carroll hasn’t lost since November. The Chargers battled back to make it 41-37 late in the second and actually had multiple possessions to try and get it to two points but just kept trading takeaways with the Panthers.

Carroll’s Taylor Fordyce lays the ball up during a January 29 game against Snider. (Photo by Leverage Photography)

Not enough can be said about high quality girls high school basketball in this city. Not every game is like this one and no every game has the high quality play. But the highest level of basketball on the girls side in Fort Wayne and in the area is really fun. This is the kind of game that should make fans appreciate this level of play so much more. Two teams, highly focused, highly skilled and intelligent enough to bring it all together.

Two quick baskets for Snider ballooned the lead back to eight point to start the second half pretty much he same way the first half started. This time though, Carroll slugged back with Taylor Fordyce getting to the rim through contact for a basket and Kayla Gibbs and Emily Parrett fighting for offensive rebounds. Jackson tied the game up midway through the third on a cross court dribble drive from left to right for what ended up being an easy layup to tie the game at 45. The Chargers took their first lead of the game on an Anderson basket after the two teams traded misses for quite a bit of time in middle minutes of the third quarter. Carroll pushed their lead to six on a Delane Sheets three pointer with 45 seconds left in the third; they led by four after the third.

Snider was able to unsurprisingly battle back to the lead with 5:18 left on a Destiny Jackson free throw and then Parrett grabbed it back with a floater on the other end to give Carroll a 65-64 lead. But much like the game had see’d and saw’d, a Carroll three point lead was erased when Jordyn Poole just calmly brought the ball down and stepped into a triple to tie the game. It turned into a seven point Carroll run and the Panthers never were able to even things up again.

There is no doubt after Friday that the Panthers are the future of this conference. They already have their hat in the ring as being a title contender next season. And for four of the their primary starters, this is just the beginning. Snider Panther basketball needed a revitalizing boost and Donahue, Poole, Destiny Craig and Tia Phinezy are it. Poole finished with 20 points after scoring 14 in the fourth quarter alone while Donahue scored 21 for the Panthers. The future shines bright off Reed Road and Fairlawn Pass.

But 2021 isn’t the future just yet. And so for now, Carroll reigns. Their win secures an outright conference title and also means that the true “old guard” of the SAC are held out of the title picture again. Since the Chargers and Homestead joined the SAC in in the 2015-16 season, they have combined to capture ten of the eleven possible titles with SAC in the name: all six regular season crowns and four of five SAC Holiday Tournament titles. Yes, Homestead is responsible for nine of those, but Carroll’s down right dominance this season after being in the hunt every year asserts that there may be a changing of the guard, just not back to that old guard.

Snider was the last girls SAC regular season champion before the duo of schools’ entrance to the league.

So while, on the outside, there has been a bit of an us versus them mentality, Carroll isn’t looking at it that way. They are not Homestead and they earned this one for themselves and for their own program, built on the steady hands of Mark Redding the past nine seasons. Friday’s crowning moment was certainly earned by the Chargers.

These opinions represent those of Bounce and Outside the Huddle. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers. Follow Bounce on Twitter at Bounce_OTH

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