INDIANAPOLIS — For the first time since boys class basketball began in 1998, three of the four state champions hailed from within the city limits of Indianapolis.
Ben Davis, Indianapolis Crispus Attucks and Indianapolis Tindley won the Class 4A, 3A, and A titles, respectively, on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Frankton, which is located in nearby Madison County, won the 2A title, giving the Central Indiana region a clean sweep at the 107th annual IHSAA State Finals at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Not only did three Indy schools win, but each won in thrilling fashion.
In the 4A title game, unranked Ben Davis (23-5), which had defeated numerous teams with nationally-ranked recruits this postseason, did it once again by overcoming Fort Wayne North (27-3), led by Division I recruits Keion Brooks Jr. and Jaylen Butz, 55-52.
Down by as many as nine points, Ben Davis slowly clawed its way back to set up a wild finish to win their 14th straight game and third state title.
With the Giants leading 49-46 with 1:21 remaining, Ben Davis’ guard RJ Turner was fouled and played the role of hero.
After sinking his first free throw, he grabbed his own rebound after missing the second attempt and scored a key layup to give Ben Davis a 6-point lead. Harris’ rebound was surprising since he was the only Ben Davis player near the basket after his teammates were sent back on defense.
Fort Wayne hit two 3-pointers in its next two possessions to cut the deficit to two points, 54-52, and guard Devontae Kinnie stole the ball with six seconds remaining, but he stepped out of bounds before his coach could call timeout.
Ben Davis hit 1 of 2 free throws with less than 18 seconds left, and Kinnie’s last-second 3 missed to secure the Giants’ first state crown in 21 years.
“I don’t know that we beat them,” Ben Davis coach Mark James said afterward. “The clock just ran out; that’s what happens in those games.”
The 3A title game featured a return to glory as Crispus Attucks (25-4) won its fourth state title and first since 1959 after they defeated Twin Lakes 73-71. The Tigers won on a last second put back by Jamaal Harris.
Between the third and fourth quarters of the game, Oscar Robertson and other Attucks’ legends were given a rousing standing ovation by the crowd as they were introduced on the video board.
Senior guard Nike Sibande said afterward, “It’s amazing to see everyone who came back to see us. We couldn’t do it without the fans and Oscar Robertson and all the alumni.”
With all the star power on display for Attucks throughout the night, it was role-player Harris who used his 48-inch vertical leap to out-rebound opposing star Bryce Bennington and lay in the winning shot for just his second basket of the night.
“As I came down,” Harris said, “it didn’t even feel real.”
Indianapolis’ third champion was Tindley, who, after being founded in 2004, worked its way to state after losing in the regional the past two seasons.
Led by Indiana University recruit Eric Hunter, Tindley (24-5) defeated Lafayette Central Catholic 51-49 after Hunter White exploited LCC’s zone defense for a mid-range jumper to win with four seconds remaining.
Frankton (23-6) defeated Crawford County for the 2A title in the most decisive game of the day, 60-32. It was Frankton’s first boys basketball state title.