GRIFFITH | Courtney Bell is tired of the Griffith-is-so-young talk.
Sure, the Panthers graduated four starters and even lost two assistant coaches from a solid program, but it’s not like they kicked aside the diapers and teething toys yesterday.
With 21 games under their belts going into Saturday’s Class 3A Griffith Sectional championship, the Panthers threw all the baby talk out of the crib and delivered when it mattered most.
Behind Bell’s all-around game and Griffith’s dominating effort on the glass, the Panthers raced out early and held off Lew Wallace 48-30 for the program’s sixth consecutive sectional crown.
“We know we don’t have the most experience, but you just work hard and rise up to the pressure,” said Bell, who had a game-high 21 points.
“We know we have to put the effort in every game, it’s not going to come easy, but this team works hard in practice and we knew we could do it.”
Bell, a junior and the team’s lone returning starter, single-handedly outscored the Hornets 12-10 in the first half, when the Panthers went into the intermission up 20-10. Bell buried three 3-pointers, including one with 25 seconds left in the second quarter, and added three assists, a steal and one rebound before the break.
Griffith (12-10) had a 31-18 rebounding edge against the Hornets (9-8), who have no seniors on the roster, but are coached by respected veteran coach Omar Vazquez.
The Panthers survived despite a game-high 16 turnovers. It helped that the young Hornets were a dismal 4-of-21 from the free-throw line.
“We struggled tonight, but we found a way to win and that’s what we always tell the girls,” Griffith coach Tom Golumbeck said. “We struggled defensively and handling their pressure, but the bottom line is we won the game. We tell the kids, ‘It doesn’t have to be pretty, just get the job done.’”
Senior Lisette Roldan had a game-high 10 rebounds to go with five points, while freshman sister, Talia, had five rebounds and four points.
Lew Wallace got 12 points from China Lollis, all coming on 3-pointers.