State’s best invade Hancock County

GREENFIELD — Not only did Greenfield-Central host a Class 2A boys basketball regional for the first time since 2008 on Saturday, the tourney very well could have served as a de facto State Finals.

No. 1-ranked defending state champ Park Tudor, No. 5 Northeastern and No. 6 Indianapolis Attucks — along with talented, but unranked, Cloverdale — came to Hancock County to compete for a spot at semistate.

No. 2 Howe and No. 3 Scecina were eliminated in Park Tudor’s Sectional 42, and the thought among many regional onlookers was that the winner here at Greenfield would not face a tougher team in the semistate or State Finals.

Prior to Saturday night’s regional championship between Attucks (19-6) and Park Tudor (24-2), Attucks coach Phil Washington plainly stated, “We feel like the winner of this game will be the state champion.”

Attucks started the championship game with energy and quickness but ran into the same problems nearly every other team has when going against Park Tudor: Its efficiency. All five starters for Park Tudor scored in double figures, and Attucks was only as close as 67-52 in the fourth quarter, before losing 92-77.

With the win, Park Tudor will move up to Class 3A next season under the IHSAA’s Tournament Success Factor (just like New Palestine football has been moved to Class 5A for next year due to its two-year stretch of dominance). When asked if the program’s long term goal was to make it to Class 4A, Park Tudor coach Kyle Cox said, “Who knows, maybe winning in 3A will be easier … 2A has been stacked the last couple of seasons, but if (getting to 4A) means winning two more state championships in the next two seasons, we will take it.”

In the first regional semifinal, the Panthers squared off against Northeastern (22-4) and, aside from a 7-2 start fueled by the Knights’ high energy, Northeastern had no answer for the height of the Panthers. The eventual champs led 17-10 at the end of the first quarter and never looked back, winning the game 74-44 behind 29 points from Western Michigan commit Bryce Moore.

In the second matchup, Attucks battled Cloverdale (22-6) down to the final minutes. The Tigers were ahead 64-53 with six minutes, 33 seconds to go in the fourth quarter when Cloverdale sophomore Cooper Neese hit back to back 3-pointers to ignite a run that led to a 70-70 tie with two minutes to go. Neese had 22 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter, but it was not enough.

Attucks coach Phil Washington said, “We weren’t going to get rushed up just because they made a run … I knew we could close it out.”

And Attucks did, scoring the next nine points and winning 84-77 to advance to the title game.

A unique feature of the regional round is the extended break between the semifinals and the championship. Park Tudor and Attucks had different plans on how they would spend their time.

“I couldn’t get any of the local hotels to work with me on a day rate here,” Cox said. “My in-laws live in Knightstown, though, so we will head out there to do a walk through at the Hoosier Gym before a team meal.”

Attucks was facing a shorter break between the games, so Washington was focused on “ice baths and getting something to eat” for his Attucks squad.

This break between games was a key benefit to hosting the event, according to Greenfield-Central Athletic Director Jared Manning.

“A lot of the people here stayed in town since this morning,” he said. “We had a group go to Mozzi’s, a group go to Chicago’s, and some people went to Ponderosa during practice time, so we had a lot of businesses that benefited from this event.”

According to Greenfield-Central Principal Steve Bryant, Northeastern and Cloverdale each brought more than 2,000 fans for the morning session.

Manning first learned of the opportunity to host the event in September and said he was happy to have been selected to host the regional by the IHSAA over a large number of applicants. According to Manning, Greenfield-Central will continue to make itself available to host the event in hopes of reaping these benefits again.

Park Tudor advanced to the Southport Semistate to face Linton-Stockton (22-6) at 4 p.m. Frankton (25-2) and Hammond-Noll (13-13) make up the other Class 2A semistate, at Lafayette.

Following the trip to Hoosier Gym a few miles down U.S. 40, Cox said he might have to show his team the movie “Hoosiers” after practice one day this week, as many of the players didn’t seem to grasp the significance of the site, made famous by Hollywood in the chronicling of Milan’s 1954 state championship. However, as the decided favorite of the four teams remaining in Class 2A, perhaps Cox should save the film screening for next year’s Class 3A tournament.

Boys Basketball Semistates

Boys basketball semistates, Saturday.

Lafayette Jefferson

Class A: Liberty Christian (25-3) vs. Marquette Catholic (23-6), 1 p.m.

Class 2A: Frankton (25-2) vs. Hammond Bishop Noll (13-13), to follow

Huntington North

Class 3A: Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger (14-13) vs. Griffith (18-3), 4 p.m.

Class 4A: Homestead (27-2) vs. South Bend Riley (12-14), to follow

Seymour

Class A: Barr-Reeve (25-2) vs. Clay City (24-4), 1 p.m.

Class 4A: Evansville Reitz (28-1) vs. Richmond (26-3), to follow

Southport

Class 2A: Linton-Stockton (22-6) vs. Park Tudor (24-2), 4 p.m.

Class 3A: Vincennes Lincoln (21-6) vs. Guerin Catholic (20-8), 6 p.m.