LAPORTE, Ind. (WNDU)- The NorthWood Panthers have officially advanced to the state championship game.
The Panthers defeated Benton Central 36-22 in the 3-A semi-state matchup on Saturday.
"This feeling? It's just indescribable," forward Maddy Payne said. "You just can't explain it. It's just so much fun because we did what we told ourselves that we were going to do. We won. We got it. I'm so excited."
NorthWood is heading back to the state championship for the first time since 1999.
"Oh it's huge," head coach Adam Yoder said. "It's huge for our program. We had a lot of heartbreaks there in the tournament. Not just when I was the head coach. Steve's last few years we had some really really good basketball teams that had some bad luck. And today with our defense, we made our own luck. We may not have played as pretty on offense as we could've but there was no way we were going to let them score. We did such a great job at extending the lead in the second half. So happy for these girls, they deserve it so much."
NorthWood takes on Salem for the state championship next Saturday at 6 in Indianapolis.
In the 4-A, the Penn Kingsmen fell just shy of making it back to the state championship.
Penn lost to Northwestern 56-46.
"Extremely proud of our team," head coach Kristi Ulrich said. "Every single one, every single person in the entire state counted us out in the game. We talk about winning each quarter. We won the first quarter. You know we creep back in there in the second. They made us pay for every mistake that we made down the stretch. We followed exactly what we needed to do about 85% of the time. They have two of the best players in the entire state.They made us pay each time we made a mistake. Overall when you look at our team, how much we've overcome this season. Nobody thought that we were going to be here so just unbelievably proud of my kids."
Penn finishes the season with a 27-3 record.