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SOUTH WHITLEY — Heading into the final week of the Indiana high school girls’ basketball regular season, the Three Rivers Conference already had its champion with the No. 1 team in class 2A Wabash locking up back-to-back titles.
Whitko had room to move into a three-way tie for second place when the Apaches came to town on Saturday’s senior night.
A hot shooting Wabash team left the Lady Wildcats alone in third place at the end of the night shooting 23-of-37 from the field and winning 66-47.
Whitko (9-10, 4-3) has faced four teams ranked No. 1 at some point in the season including one from every class (Fort Wayne Canterbury, Wabash, Norwell, Elkhart Memorial).
Wabash (18-1, 7-0) was the latest with some preseason predictions of Saturday’s game deciding the conference title.
“This is our fourth team that has been ranked No. 1 in basically each of the classes,” Whitko head coach Rob Bell said. “We felt our level of competition had prepared us for this but you can’t prepare for the speed.”
Separating a No. 1 Lady Apaches team from others in the TRC is a triple threat of outside shooting.
Wabash opened up the first half shooting 16-for-21 from the field including five three pointers.
One of those came from the game’s leading scorer Kaleigh Hensley who led a trio of Lady Apaches that scored in double figures.
“She just smart,” Bell commented of Hensley. “She’s basketball smart and I thought we did a good job on her for the most part.”
The nearly perfect first half of shooting took Wabash into the locker room with a insurmountable 41-14 lead.
That didn’t deter the Lady Wildcats from rallying in the second half. Whitko outscored Wabash in each of the last two quarters with the help of point guard Micaela Sylvester’s team-high 17 points.
All but five of those points came in the second half for Sylvester as Whitko cut the deficit to as low as 18 points.
“I was proud of the way the kids battled back,” Bell stated. “The kids never quit and that’s something they never do.”
The night recognized seniors Rachelle Kessie and Nicole Slaymaker.