BY DEAN HOCKNEY
KOKOMO, Ind. – For three young women, it was a trip of a lifetime. For 32 minutes of game action, they earned enough memories to last forever – an Indiana high school basketball state championship.
And while none of the three were the stars of the show, they each contributed significantly as the No. 1-ranked Northwestern Lady Tigers won the IHSAA Class 3A state championship with a 63-42 win over No. 2 Greensburg.
“It was a once in a lifetime experience since I am a senior,” said Morgan Mercer, whose role on the team was a spark off the bench. “It was cool.”
Kora Loer, the second of the three seniors, averaged 2.7 points per game this season while playing as a spot player in the post.
“It’s pretty awesome,” said Loer of winning the state title. “No one has ever done this before at our school. Everyone is really supportive and behind us 100-percent. We have been playing so long that we have great chemistry – we know each other inside and out and I wouldn’t want to play on any other team.”
Sarah Vas, the only senior to start for the Tigers, was awarded the IHSAA Patricia L. Roy Mental Attitude Award after the game. Like Loer, she talked about how close knit the team is.
“We’re different; we are different than a lot of teams, because we bond,” she said. “We love being around each other. We’re obviously around each other a lot, so it’s really good that we have a good chemistry. And so this season has been awesome. We haven’t really had any faults, and I think that’s why we’re here and why we had such a good lead on them.”
While the trio’s stats are not as gaudy as other players on the team, they helped lay the foundation for where Northwestern is today. Head coach Kathie Layden has talked about the senior class and what they mean to the program. And now, she knows they will leave holes that others will need to fill – from practice preparation to game minutes.
“We have three seniors to replace,” said Layden. “That is going to be very hard to do.”
The seniors of 2018 will go down as the most successful class in Northwestern history after they brought home the state title. In four seasons, they finished with a record of 77-25 while winning one conference, two sectionals, one regional, one semi-state and the 2018 state championship.