TERRE HAUTE – South Side proved it belonged in the Class 4A state title game, but losing that last one hurts just the same.
After losing to Bedford North Lawrence by 24 points in the regular season, South pushed the undefeated Stars to the final minutes in the rematch. Unfortunately the final minutes belonged to Bedford.
Bedford North Lawrence's Sammy Dillman hit a three-pointer to break a tie game with 1:20 left and the Stars went on to beat South 54-51 for the Class 4A state title Saturday at the Hulman Center. Bedford North Lawrence finished the season 28-0. South Side finished 24-4 after its first trip to the finals.
“I know in the pregame leading up to this everybody wanted to talk about the first matchup,” South coach Juanita Goodwell said. “That wasn't my team and I knew it. That wasn't what they wanted to leave with. At the end of the day, this is for the pride and glory of how you wanted to be remembered. They'll be remembered.”
Ariana Simmons led South Side with 21 points, 11 rebounds and three steals. Brittni Clopton and Lakyn Gulley scored nine apiece and De'Joyah Johnson added eight.
“We had to come back,” Simmons said, tears welling in her eyes. “People thought we would lose by 20 again, but we were not going to have that again. We only lost by three, but we ended up short again.”
Bedford North Lawrence was led by Alexa Bailey and Dominique McBryde with 19 points apiece. Bailey is the daughter of former Indiana University standout Damon Bailey.
South Side's mission was to make sure Bedford North Lawrence knew it was in for a game. The Archers fell behind by 33 points in the regular-season game at Bedford. So it was imperative for South to show this would be a different game. The Archers made that point from the opening tip.
“All throughout the week people were telling us we wouldn't even have a chance, we shouldn't show up,” Clopton said. “Even people from Fort Wayne were saying that. We came down here to prove ourselves and that's exactly what we did. I couldn't be prouder of our team.”
Johnson hit a pair of free throws to tie the score 48-48 with 1:45 left, but a three-point shot by Bedford North Lawrence's Dillman – her only made three in six attempts – put the Stars ahead to stay.
“They hit a couple shots when it counted, and we didn't,” Goodwell said, “and that was the difference in the game.”
South led much of the first half and went into the break trailing 26-23, led by Simmons' 12 points. South took a 12-10 lead in the first quarter, using pressure to throw Bedford North Lawrence off balance. Simmons scored five of the Archers points in the opening quarter.
Heading into the fourth quarter, South held onto a 39-38 lead. The Archers increased that lead to 43-40 on a steal and layup by Johnson and a post move inside shot by Simmons.
Bailey and McBryde answered for Bedford North Lawrence, converting back-to-back three-point plays, with McBryde scoring on a rebound and a free throw and Bailey going coast-to-coast for a layup and a free throw.
Simmons came back with a baseline three-point shot to make it 46-46 with less than four minutes to go.
“We fought for everything and we kept pushing,” Simmons said. “It was a tough game and we tried to get it done, but we ended up coming up short.”
The game was the final one for South Side senior starters Simmons, Johnson and Lynnia Noel.
“This is a group that came in with lot of passion and lot of desire,” Goodwell said. “That's their history and their trademark forever etched in history as the first (South girls) team to ever get to state. Hard work and effort – that's what my girls bring every day.”
South Side prove it belonged in the state game, pushing Bedford North Lawrence to its closest game of the postseason.
“It means a lot to our school,” Simmons said. “Hopefully, next year, they'll end up coming back.”
BEDFORD NORTH LAWRENCE 54, SOUTH SIDE 51
South Side 12 11 16 12 — 51
Bedford North Lawrence 10 16 12 16 — 54
South Side - Brittni Clopton 3-9 3-6 9, Ariana Simmons 8-19 3-3 21, Lakyn Gulley 3-7 0-0 9, Lynnia Noel 1-9 0-0 2, De'Joyah Johnson 3-7 2-2 8, Maria Moore 0-0 0-0 0, Chelsea Rogers 1-2 0-1 3, Lakesha LaMaster-Stephens 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 19-56 8-12 51.
Bedford North Lawrence - Dominique McBryde 7-11 5-8 19, Jenna Allen 4-8 1-2 9, Sammy Dillman 2-8 0-0 5, Alexa Bailey 7-10 5-7 19, Brittani Rizzi 0-6 0-0 0, Kennedy Wall 0-0 0-0 0, Lauren Boshears 0-0 0-0 0, Whitney Wilson 0-1 2-2 2, Sabrina Yeary 0-0 0-0 0, Carli Fields 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-44 13-20 54.
Three-point goals: SS/5-15 (Gulley 3-7, Simmons 2-5, Noel 0-1, Johnson 0-1, Rogers 0-1), BNL/1-11 (Dillman 1-6, Bailey 0-1, Rizzi 0-4). Rebounds: SS/38 (Simmons 11, Johnson 7, Clopton 6, Noel 5, LaMaster-Stephens 5, Rogers 3), BNL/29 (Allen 11). Assists: SS/6 (Noel 3, Gulley 2, Johnson), BNL/12 (Dillman 4). Steals: SS/10 (Simmons 3, Noel 2, Johnson 2, Clopton, Gulley, Rogers), BNL/11 (Bailey 4). Blocks: SS/2, BNL/4. Turnovers: SS/16, BNL/15. Total fouls: SS/14, BNL/14.