The Crothersville girls’ basketball team isn’t feeling the pressure going into its first-ever regional contest.
They’ve heeded the role as the underdog, with the biggest obstacle already behind them.
With the high school’s inaugural sectional title sitting in the trophy room, anxieties have dissipated, and the Tigers now look for the biggest upset in Class A.
On Saturday afternoon, the Tigers will match up against No. 1 Wood Memorial at Springs Valley High School in French Lick.
The Trojans (24-1) are riding an eight-game winning streak into the regional.
Conversely, the Tigers (19-8) have finished on top in four straight games.
The Trojans average 60.2 points per game — just two more points than Crothersville — while giving up 41 on average. The Tigers defensive average is 45.7 points per game.
In last week’s sectional in Tecumseh, the Trojans defeated Northeast Dubois 59-42 for the Sectional 64 title while Crothersville bested West Washington 72-69 for Sectional 61 (Orleans).
“We’re just trying to keep the noise down and stay as focused as possible,” Tigers senior Katrina Christian said. “We’re not finished yet.”
On film, Tigers coach Kevin Hensley saw a physical Trojans squad that applies a lot of defensive pressure, and is capable of getting the ball to multiple offensive threats.
“They remind of me of an Austin team,” Hensley said. “They put a lot of pressure on the ball and like to cause turnovers. They will pick you up at half court and run three or four girls off you. We need to be ready to take care of the ball and not just toss it up.”
In the three postseason games thus far, Christian is leading the team with 24 points per game while sophomore Piper Hensley is averaging 13 for the Tigers. Off the bench, sophomore Maddie Riley is averaging seven points.
All of the Tigers expect a gritty, defensive game where ball handling will prove crucial.
“They are really good at defense,” Piper Hensley said. “They run a diamond and try to trap. They’re going to try and key-in Katrina so we will have to make our shots.”
In the starting lineup, senior Kashmir Kelshaw and junior Lacey Hall have also proved scoring threats for the Tigers throughout the season. Both are capable of putting up double figures in the scoring column.
Senior Madison Reynolds has also stepped-up her game defensively in the post in recent games.
“Everyone needs to be a threat on the court, and we’ve told them that all year long,” coach Hensley said. “Kashmir and Madison stepped up in the championship game and that takes pressure off some of the other girls.”
Riley agreed with coach Hensley that the team needs to spread the ball.
“I think we need to play together and just play the best game that we can,” Riley said. “We need to be on the same page.”
The Tigers have received a lot of attention from multiple news outlets in the past week, but have continued to go through normal practices.
“We’re mainly going to need to stay focused,” Christian said. “We need a lot of energy and intensity. We know what we’re going in against. We need to stay composed and play our game.”
With a win, the Tigers would play at 8 p.m. against the winner of South Central (18-7) and No. 2 Vincennes Rivet (22-3).
Wood Memorial topped Rivet 48-38 in the season’s opener.
In their Southern Athletic Conference game on Dec. 3, the Tigers fell to South Central 50-45.
Monday, it was announced that Christian is the SAC’s 2016-17 Most Outstanding Player.
Confident, not cocky, is the mindset going into the regional.
“We know they’re a great team,” coach Hensley said. “It will be a really tough game for us. I’m confident from what I’ve seen so far of them. We’re not going to hold back, we want to take that next step.”