State champs: Lawrence Central wins IHSAA Girls Basketball Finals


By Ken Severson

It took nearly six minutes for the Lawrence Central High School girls basketball team to score a basket, but once the Bears got on the board, they didn’t stop.

Lawrence Central beat Lake Central 55-28 in the IHSAA Class 4A state championship game Feb. 24 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis for its first-ever state title — and first state title of any kind for the school in 10 years. The last Lawrence Central team to win a state championship was the girls track and field team in the 2013-14 season.

In total, Lawrence Central teams have won a combined 10 IHSAA state championships.

To put the significance of the girls basketball state title in perspective, the Bears’ only other postseason championship in history was a sectional crown in 1987.

With their victory in the state championship game, the Bears finished the season on a 25-game win streak. Their season record was 30-1, with their only loss a 52-51 setback against George Rogers Clark (Ky.) early in the regular season.

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Lawrence Central Junior Jaylah Lampley, No. 10, averaged 18 points per game for the 2023-24 season. (Photo courtesy of David Dixon for the MSD of Lawrence Township)

“I’m just happy for them, our fans, our community and township,” second-year coach Jannon Lampley said. “I have been hard on them and I expect a lot out of them, but I knew they could do it. I’m blessed with this basketball journey.

“They worked so hard all year long.”

In December 2023, the Bears cruised to a 51-38 regular-season win against Lake Central. In the state championship game, the rematch figured to be a tougher challenge. And it was — for a quarter. A 19-2 run in the second quarter offset a slow start for the Bears.

Lampley attributed the Bears’ slow start to nerves.

Lawrence Central didn’t score until the 2:05 mark of the first quarter and was down seven before kicking it into high gear — at one point going 23-0 from the end of first half to the start of the second half.

After the initial scare, Lawrence Central went to work, pummeling the Indians at the basket, on the boards and with a defense that was as good as its offense — a point of pride for the Bears — forcing the Indians into 13 turnovers and harassing them into taking bad shots.

Lawrence Central outrebounded Lake Central 39-19 and made 22 of 47 shots from the field, including four three-pointers.

The Bears were led by 6-foot-1 junior Jaylah Lampley’s 18 points. Her younger sister Lola added 12 points, as did teammate Aniyah McKenzie.

Familiarity with Lake Central helped, but Lampley said this was a little different, as the Indians had improved considerably from the first meeting, so she did a bit of adjusting to the game plan.

“Somewhat, because they have been playing well at the end of the season,” Jannon Lampley said. “But we still did some of the same things the first time with a few adjustments. Just trying to adjust to their defense because they play pretty good defense, too. And trying to find our shooters’ open shots.”

All in all, it was quite a year.

Not only did Lawrence Central become only the third girls team in IHSAA history to earn 30 wins in a season, it also held 10 opponents to 30 or fewer points.

For Jannon Lampley, the added bonus was seeing her daughters win a state title. As a former high school and college player, she enjoyed success at every level.

“I tell everybody, anytime I talk about basketball; I’ve been to (an NCAA) Final Four; I won a Big Ten championship; I’ve won two state championships; and, at the end of the day, the best thing you can call me is a mother,” Lampley said. “Right now, I’m going to enjoy this.”

It’s not over, either.

Including the Lampley siblings, all five of the Bears’ starters are underclassmen. Mariah Kenter Garrett and Laila Abdurraqib juniors, and McKenzie is a sophomore. Lawrence Central will lose only two players to graduation.

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Lawrence Central junior Laila Abdurraqib, No. 44, averaged 11.4 points per game for the 2023-24 season. (Photo courtesy of David Dixon for the MSD of Lawrence Township)


Date Opponent Score Tournament

  • Jan. 31-Attucks W 75-18 Sectional
  • Feb. 2-Lawrence North W 61-54 Sectional
  • Feb. 3-Warren Central W 54-39 Sectional
  • Feb.10-Mount Vernon (Fortville) W 58-30 Regional
  • Feb. 17-Plainfield W 48-34 Semistate
  • Feb. 17-Center Grove W 53-40 Semistate
  • Feb. 24-Lake Central 55-28 State