A 21-year State Finals hiatus wasn’t enough to slow NorthWood as it captured the Class 3A state girls basketball championship with a 37-29 victory over Salem at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The seventh-ranked Panthers capped their 28-3 season by making nine of 10 free throws in the game’s final 1:47 to pull away. Through the first three quarters, there had been five lead changes, three ties and 14 occasions in which the point spread was three or fewer points.
Forward Maddy Payne, a 6-1 senior, scored 13 of her game-high 19 points in the second half to lead NorthWood to its second state title, following the 1999 squad that cut the nets inside what was the final girls finals played at Market Square Arena.
Salem, which took the hardwood ranked No. 1, finished its season with a 25-4 record after making the state finals for the first time in program history. They were the first Salem team to compete in an IHSAA state finals event since the 1930 boys basketball team.
Leading 21-20 after three quarters, NorthWood provided itself with some much-needed breathing room by scoring the first five points of the final stanza before Salem signaled timeout at the 4:14 mark. The Lions responded with a drive to the hoop and layup by Karly Sweeney, but a Payne basket in close pushed the lead back to six.
Salem managed to stay within four points on two more occasions thanks to baskets by sophomore backup forward Abigail Ratts, but it was here the Panthers began capitalizing at the free throw line. Ratts led the Lions with 10 points.
Class 3A State Championship Records
Fewest Points Allowed
29 by NorthWood
Fewest Combined Points Scored
66 by NorthWood (37) and Salem (29)
Maddy Payne named Mental Attitude Award Winner
Following the game, members of the IHSAA Executive Committee named Maddy Payne of NorthWood High School as the winner of the Patricia L. Roy Mental Attitude Award in Class 3A Girls Basketball.
The award is presented annually to a senior participant in each classification who was nominated by her principal and coach and has demonstrated excellence in mental attitude, scholarship, leadership and athletic ability.
Maddy is a four-year varsity letter winner for the Lady Panthers and a three-time First Team All Northern Lakes Conference selection. She was awarded the Black Swish Mental Attitude Award in 2018 and 2019 and was also selected as the 2020 Inkfree News Girls Basketball Player of the Year this season. Payne is also a member of the NorthWood volleyball and track and field teams.
Outside of athletics, Maddy is a member of the National Honor Society. She also volunteers around her community, assisting with the Wakarusa Maple Syrup Festival, NorthWood High School Youth Track, and NorthWood Unified Track and Field.
Maddy is the daughter of John and Dawn Payne of Wakarusa, Indiana, and plans to attend Bethel University to continue her athletic career.
The Indiana Fever and Indiana Pacers, the presenting sponsor of the IHSAA Girls Basketball State Tournament, presented a $1,000 scholarship to NorthWood High School in the name of Maddy Payne. Since 1989, more than $840,000 in college scholarships have been presented to deserving high school athletes in Indiana.
The award is named in honor of the former IHSAA Assistant Commissioner Patricia L. Roy, who oversaw the girls basketball state tournament from its inception in 1976 until her retirement in 1999.