NorthWood Girls Basketball prepares for first state championship game in 21 years

NAPPANEE, Ind.—A local high school girls basketball team is putting it all on the line on Saturday.

The NorthWood Panthers will play in the state championship game at Bankers Life Field House in Indianapolis.

On Saturday, the 7th ranked Panthers will take on the number one Salem in the 3-A State Title game.

The Northern Lakes Conference Champions are riding an eight game win streak into the match-up.

Saturday’s game will be the Panthers’ third title game appearance and first time making it to state in 21 years.

The players on this year’s team weren’t even alive the last time NorthWood won a state championship.

While this senior class was born in 2001, the girls have grown up learning about the special 1999 team.

Every time they enter or leave the locker room, the players look at the team photograph hanging on the wall and they’re reminded of what it takes to win.

The Panthers may be the underdog in this match-up, but they’re sticking to the motto that’s gotten them through the entire season and putting their trust in each other.

NorthWood Basketball Head Coach Adam Yoder said trust is the theme for the team.

"One of the bench marks of our program is the word 'TRUST,' and all of those letters stand for something. Together, Relentless, Unselfish, Self-reliant and Talent. This group embodies all of those characteristics so much. They've all worked so hard on their games. They're all multi-sport kids so they balance their time well,” Yoder said, “They understand all types of different roles on the team. So, we have some stars, we have some kids that don't play very much but all of them have their own niches on our team because they've experienced it in other sports and they accept their roles. It's been a super group to coach."

The coach’s sentiments are echoed by the current players.

"We have bonds that you can't break and going into the tournament run just knowing that our chemistry is really going to help us get through because we trust each other so much and just knowing that each person has such an important role,” said NorthWood senior and basketball player Kate Rulli.

The team takes the court Saturday at 6 p.m. The community is planning a send-off for the team at noon on Saturday at NorthWood along with a pep rally at 2:15 p.m. on Sunday.

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