‘It was a defensive game:’ North White’s zone stops Argos in regional final
Edmonds scores team-high 8 in prep finale
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
FULTON — The Argos girls basketball team had scored 50 or more points in four consecutive games for the first time in six years.
And when Samantha Redinger swished a 3-pointer from the left wing just 44 seconds into the game on their first possession against North White in the Class 1A Caston regional final Saturday, it portended another productive night offensively.
But North White’s 2-3 zone is not like most defenses. And then the drought that followed would eventually end the Lady Dragons’ season.
Tessa Robertson scored 10 points, and fellow forward Caitlyn Conn added nine points and 13 rebounds as North White earned a 36-26 win and their first regional title in school history.
North White improved to 20-6 and will play Lafayette Central Catholic at the Logansport semistate at 4 p.m. this Saturday.
Lizzy Edmonds, Argos’ lone senior starter, scored a team-high eight points, and Redinger and Bella Stults added six points each for Argos, who finished 17-9.
But it was the early drought that put Argos in a deficit that they could not overcome. They went 12:47 without scoring as North White went on a 10-0 run to turn a 3-2 deficit into a 12-3 lead.
Argos never got closer than five points after that, the last time when Amanda Fajardo found Stults for a 15-footer in the third quarter to make it 22-17.
But Robertson scored on a putback and hit two free throws to get the lead back to nine, and when senior reserve Cameryn Scott hit two 3-pointers from the right corner, Argos had a 32-21 lead going into the fourth quarter.
North White led by as many as 13 points in the fourth quarter.
Argos had another drought in the second half, going 7:15 without scoring after an Edmonds scoop banker with 1:23 left in the third quarter.
Argos’ plan was to attack from the middle of the floor against North White’s zone, but they struggled getting it there.
“They’re just big down low, and then they get out on you,” Argos coach Scott Jennings said. “We just weren’t attacking through the middle or reversing the ball quick enough. They made it tougher on us than what it should have been. I mean, they played good defense and held us to 26. We didn’t shoot very well, but you’ve got to credit their defense. They’re good.”
North White coach Bryan Heimlich was asked if there was one player on Argos he felt like his team needed to stop.
“We wanted to keep 40 (Edmonds) from getting easy ones from 10, 12-foot range. And then we knew they had some shooters. … The Redinger girl had a big game this morning (against Fort Wayne Blackhawk), and she had an 8-0 run that got them back in the game by herself. And 20, Dunlap, could get going too. We thought we could play them zone and still cover people, and I thought our girls were pretty active. We really talked well.”
Starting in a man-to-man defense and then switching to a 1-3-1 zone and then going back to man-to-man, Argos held North White to 27 percent shooting.
This marked the 17th time this season that Argos held an opponent under 40 points. Argos’ 34.8 defensive average ranked them in the top 25 in the state.
“It was a defensive game,” Jennings said. “You look at the score, 36-26. They didn’t shoot real well. We didn’t shoot real well. I think the defense causes a lot of that as well.”
But North White didn’t commit a turnover or a foul in the third quarter, and they continued to melt time off the clock.
After Stults hit two free throws with 2:29 left in the half, Conn scored on a post banker and on a putback to make it 16-5. But Stults scored in the post and senior reserve Carleigh Miller hit a trey to make it 16-10.
Conn split a pair of free throws before Edmonds hit a 15-footer from the high post. But Hannah Cosgray got a runner in the lane to roll in with six seconds left to give North White a 19-12 halftime lead.
Abigale Spry’s 3-pointer after an offensive rebound started scoring in the second half, but Emma Dunlap hit a 3, and Stults’ jumper had Argos back within five.
The matchup was a rematch of the 2016 regional final, also held at Caston. In that game, Courtney Dunlap scored 20 points, and Valerie Rospopo nailed four 3-pointers and tallied 18 as Argos built a 34-11 halftime lead and cruised to a 53-33 win.
With both Dunlap and Rospopo among former Argos players in attendance Saturday, the bonds of the Argos program seemingly strengthened during the season. This season marked Argos’ first sectional title since 2017 and their furthest state tournament advancement since 2016.
“I want them to be a part of the program,” Jennings said of the alumni. “They’ve built it from the past. … Val Rospopo sits on the bench with me. Courtney Dunlap and that group that went to the state finals, they know what it’s like. I want them hanging around this group. Because you’re as successful as the people you hang around, and that’s a bunch of successful girls right there, not only in basketball but they’re successful in life. And that’s what I want these girls hanging around.”
In addition to Edmonds, other graduating Lady Dragons included Miller, Sophia Bollenbacher and Allison Zahm.
“I've got seniors that have been with the program for four years and have been with me for two years,” Jennings said. “I told them we’ve got some talented underclassmen, and I was proud of how they stepped aside here going into the tournament and let the talented underclassmen step up. I can’t be more proud of that group of seniors. They hung in there. They worked their tails off. They’ve helped build this program.”
Argos started the 2020-21 season 0-7. Since then, they have gone 26-13.
North White beat Kouts 55-45 while Argos topped Fort Wayne Blackhawk 55-53 earlier Saturday to reach the final. North White’s Lauren Annis scored a game-high 17 points against Kouts but was held scoreless against Argos.
North White 36, Argos 26
NORTH WHITE (36) (20-6)
Hannah Cosgray 1 0-2 2, Abigale Spry 3 0-0 7, Lauren Annis 0 0-0 0, Caitlyn Conn 4 1-2 9, Tessa Robertson 3 4-4 10, Callie Hunt 1 0-0 2, Cameryn Scott 2 0-0 6
TEAM: 14 5-8 36
ARGOS (26) (17-9)
Samantha Redinger 2 0-0 6, Emma Dunlap 1 0-0 3, Bella Stults 2 2-4 6, Amanda Fajardo 0 0-0 0, Lizzy Edmonds 4 0-0 8, Baleigh Binkley 0 0-0 0, Carleigh Miller 1 0-0 3
TEAM: 10 2-4 26
Three-point field goals:
North White 3 (Scott 2, Spry),
Argos 4 (Redinger 2, Miller, Dunlap)
Total fouls: North White 5, Argos 10
Turnovers: North White 10, Argos 10
Score by quarters
North White 10 9 13 4 – 36
Argos 3 9 9 5 – 26
Watch Full Game Here: