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Asia plays no minor role for Fighting Irish

Mar. 03, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- There are two juniors in Huntington St. Joe's starting lineup who have already surpassed 1,000 points for their careers.

Asia Petitte is not one of them.

Petitte's name is typically right behind Mychal Johnson and Griffin Dempsey on the score sheet, more often than not in double figures, though the numbers aren't always as gaudy as her teammates'.

But, for Petitte, being a third wheel isn't so bad. Also a junior, she's been an integral part of two state title teams that have continued a run of now four straight titles for Class A St. Joe, and is looking for a fifth.

Besides, how do you think Dempsey and Johnson get open?

"We consider Asia one of our most important players just for the fact that she gives us size, the physicality under the basket that we don't have," coach Shannon Lewis said. "Asia sets a lot of our screens and gets Mychal open, gets Griffin open. She doesn't get as many shots, but when she does, she makes her open shots and makes her layups."

Petitte's not bad on the dribble either. St. Joe has some specific sets designed to get Petitte the ball to take her defender to the basket.

St. Joe plays at a break-neck pace, smothering opponents on defense and running circles around them on offense, and Petitte is always in the thick of the action.

"I love playing with this team," Petitte said. "It is such a blessing to play with Mychal and Griffin, they're both at the top of their class. And I love practicing with them, because they're always pushing me to get better. You can never slack off at practice because they're not going to let you slack anytime you're on the court with them. They've really made me a great player and I appreciate what they've done."

Petitte said the best part of playing with this group is the team chemistry, whether that's hanging out together at the mall, going to a movie or running a motion offense.

"We're always together and we can talk to each other," Petitte said. "Even (Lewis), we can talk to him about running certain plays or if we think there's a mismatch out on the court, he'll listen to us. Out on the floor, we talk to each other and we read off of each other so well, that's why we click together."

The Irish only have to click for a few more games to get a fifth consecutive state title.

Petitte said there's always pressure come tournament time, but pressure isn't something this team is used to giving in to.

"I know the rest of the team is going to bring its best game, and all I have to worry about is bringing my best game," she said.

St. Joe begins defense of its state title Wednesday against Man in Charleston.