INDIANAPOLIS — And exhale.
Michigan City Marquette Catholic girls basketball coach Katie Collignon said she can finally breathe, although her team didn't make it easy on her.
"There's 55 seconds to go and it's a two-point game and Sophia (Nolan) is over here like 'let's just have fun.' I'm thinking, 'my goodness, I hope you're having fun because I'm not having a lot of fun over here,'" Collignon said. "Both hands were on my head and that was the biggest exhale of my life.
"I've smiled for the last 15 minutes."
Not having faced much adversity in the postseason, the Blazers were staring it down with the Nolan sisters having three fouls apiece by halftime of Saturday's Class A state championship game against Vincennes Rivet.
Despite Sophia sitting on the bench the entire third quarter, the Blazers (27-2) maintained a lead for nearly 22 minutes of their 38-31 win. Tied at 31 in the closing minutes, No. 1 Marquette owned the last 2:04 scoring the last seven to seal the victory over No. 2 Vincennes Rivet, securing the program's first state crown at Banker's Life Fieldhouse.
"The girls did a great job down stretch staying in it and a great job keeping composure down the stretch and finishing what needed to be done," Collignon said. "Obviously how we played today wasn't 'Plan A' but luckily we had some players come off the bench and step up for us. It really took all the girls today to pull out the victory.
"I spent most of last year's semistate game telling them to believe we're going to win and I didn't have to do that (Saturday). It's a different confidence about us and it's about knowing you put the work in and that you're meant to be here and ready to own this moment. In that last minute, we've fallen apart in moments like that before, but I have juniors now."