INDIANAPOLIS — For three quarters, Mt. Vernon took body blow after body blow from Chatard.
The upstart challengers came close to finishing off the reigning champs multiple times, but never came forth with the deciding haymaker.
And just when it seemed all hope was lost and MV’s run at the top was all but over, the two-time defending sectional champs roared to life and delivered a knockout punch.
The 3A No. 6 Marauders (19-4) escaped Indianapolis with their third straight sectional championship Saturday, claiming a 58-54 decision over host Chatard (16-8).
MV will travel to Danville Saturday for a regional semifinal tilt against 3A No. 1 Lebanon (21-3) at 10 a.m.
The victor of that game will face the winner of 3A No. 14 Indian Creek (19-5) and Greencastle (15-9) at 8 p.m. for the regional championship.
The Marauders outscored the Trojans 24-10 in the game’s final six minutes and 13 seconds, their young players — only senior Rachel Houck and junior Erica Moore received major minutes during last season’s run to the state finals — coming through to assist the veteran duo.
When Mt. Vernon met Chatard at Howe a year ago in the sectional finals, the green Trojans were overmatched physically and mentally against the Marauders’ veteran-laden squad, turning the ball over 34 times in a 77-32 black-and-gold demolition.
Perhaps with memories of that game fresh in its mind, Chatard was more than ready for the rematch.