Liberty Christian 64 Bloomfield 45
Liberty Christian did not participate in state tournament play until 2006, and a rapid progression in its program led the team to the school’s first championship in any sport.
In what was either team’s game for three quarters, the Lions pulled away from the Bloomfield Cardinals late to win the Class A title, 64-45.
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Liberty Christian is the first Anderson high school team to bring a championship back to the storied basketball city in 70 years, a fact not lost on Lions coach Jason Chappell.
“I feel like I’m dreaming, but it really happened. It feels great to bring it home to such a great basketball community,” he said.
Bloomfield had only given up 40.4 points per game in the regular season, but Liberty Christian came out fast to take the lead.
The Cardinals would not go down quietly, however. Despite trailing 40-28 with 6:30 left in the third quarter, they cut it to 44-43 with 7:22 remaining in the final quarter.
At this point, Liberty Christian’s defense took over as Bloomfield scored two points the remainder of the game.
“You have to give credit to Liberty Christian for their defense. It’s probably the toughest we’ve faced all season,” Bloomfield coach Matt Britton said afterward.
The Lions were led by senior guard Franklin Nunn, who finished the game with 19 points and eight rebounds. Senior forward Brandon Van Sant, who had 19 points and 6 rebounds, paced the Cardinals.
Lapel 59 Indianapolis Howe 37
The party wasn’t over for Madison County after the first game as Class 2A Lapel would make it an opening-session sweep.
In a game projected to be the closest of the day, Lapel ensured that would not be the case. The Bulldogs defeated Indianapolis Howe 59-37 and made it look easy from the opening tip.
Up 10-7 early after a 6-0 run, Lapel scored 14 straight points to push the lead to 17 and never looked back.
Thirty-six of Lapel’s 59 points were scored in the paint. Junior forward JonRoss Richardson was the biggest beneficiary, finishing the game with 21 points (all in the first three quarters) and 12 rebounds.
Lapel coach Jimmie Howell, a 1972 graduate of the school, said he believed the Bulldogs’ latest title will add a significant chapter to the program’s growing history.
His uncle played on the school’s 1940 team that made the final four in the single-class format, and his father played on the 1949 team that upset heavily favored No. 1 Anderson in the sectional. Howell coached the team to a Class A title in 2005.
“Now, for the next several years, there are going to be teams that come through that know it can be done because of what this group did,” Howell said.
Marion 73 Evansville Bosse 68
Marion defeated Evansville Bosse 73-68 to open the second session for their record-tying eighth state championship.
The Giants played Wednesday night to reach Saturday’s championship game due to Griffith’s bus crash postponing their scheduled semistate game
In the first half, the Giants showed fatigue as the Bulldogs led by 10 points at halftime. But Marion would break a championship record in the second half to ensure that they would go home victorious.
“In the first half, I felt like we were just a little nervous,” Marion coach James Blackmon Sr. said. “We were getting good shots in the offense, but Bosse set the intensity level very high, and I told our guys to keep their heads up and match that intensity.”
The Giants listened. In the third quarter, they set a championship-game record by scoring 31 points to take a six-point lead to the final quarter.
Juswon White, a senior forward who had averaged only 4.0 ppg throughout the season, finished with 17 points for the Giants.
New Albany 62 McCutcheon 59
The day’s final game showcased a 62-59 New Albany win against McCutcheon. But all anyone could talk about were sophomores Romeo Langford and Robert Phinisee.
A who’s who of area college coaches were in attendance to watch both including Tom Crean, John Calipari, Matt Painter and Chris Holtmann.
In the first half, it was Phinisee who demanded attention, as he recorded 11 points, six rebounds, and four assists to lead McCutcheon to a 33-28 halftime lead.
Langford, who shot 1-of-8 from 3-point range, used his inside game to seize the spotlight and bring New Albany back.
Phinisee added only two more points before fouling out in the fourth quarter, and New Albany spread the ball around en route to the title.
Isaac Hibbard scored 17 points on 4-of-8 shooting from 3-point range. Langford had 28 points.
“(McCutcheon) spaced us out of the offensive end and found shooters. On the defensive end, they had a matchup zone that we weren’t ready for that much, but did better in the second half,” Langford said on the court afterwards.