With his Columbus Christian girls basketball team down 17-9 after the first quarter, coach Ron Bridgewater said one word to his players in the huddle.
That message was loud and clear as the Crusaders would go on a 24-5 run near the end of the third quarter and through the beginning of the fourth quarter to put away Bloomington Lighthouse 54-35.
With the victory, the Crusaders captured the South Regional championship in the Indiana Christian Schools Tournament and advanced to Saturday’s state tournament semifinal game in Lafayette.
“We were probably anxious at the start of things, maybe a little too anxious,” Bridgewater said. “I just had to settle them down a little bit because we knew that we had the ability to come back but we just had to stay calm and play our game. Give (Bloomington) Lighthouse credit; they play a great game.”
Crusaders senior guard Macy Wingham finished with a game-high 19 points.
“We panicked a bit early on and were taking shots that were not necessary,” she said. “We were rushing things way too much.”
“Coach just kept reminding us that we have the talent and what it takes to come back and win,” said Crusaders’ senior guard Rachel Warren. “We just had to go out and do our thing and we did the rest of the way.”
With the Crusaders down 30-28 in the middle of the third quarter, Warren would take charge and score six points inside the paint to key a 10-0 run to end the quarter and give Columbus Christian a 38-30 lead.
“I was just being smart and looking for the open shot,” Warren said. “I was waiting for Macy to just find me open, then she fed me the ball to get easy buckets.”
Bridgewater said Warren took over the game.
“Rachel really turned things around for us during that stretch,” Bridgewater said. “She hit three big shots in a row for us. Then they started focusing on her and it opened up the rest of floor for our other players.”
Held to just six points the first three quarters, Wingham would find her stride and put away the game along with center Tori Robinson, who picked up three key inbounds steals and fed the ball to Wingham for easy baskets.
Wingham also hit 9 of 9 free throws in the fourth quarter to help put the game away.
Robinson finished with seven points and 17 rebounds, while Kayleigh Reed added 10 points.
“Tori’s reactions to the inbound pass were just so fast and were huge as well for us,” Wingham said. “To recognize me up the court so fast after the steals was a game changer for us.”