RICHMOND — Greensburg won a semistate title on Saturday and, if it does a little searching, a handful of cash.
The Pirates dominated Mt. Vernon in a matchup unbefitting of the state’s two top-ranked teams in the 3A semistate at Richmond on Saturday afternoon.
Sean Sellers knocked down a pair of 3-pointers to open the game, and No. 2 Greensburg controlled the rest of the action in an impressive 62-37 victory.
No. 1 Mt. Vernon (24-2) set season-worsts for points scored and points allowed and fell one game short of its often-stated goal of reaching the State Finals. Instead, it’s the mostly juniors and sophomores of Greensburg (25-1) who will meet No. 7 Fort Wayne Concordia (23-4) Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
The Marauders were motivated enough to reach downtown Indy that, in a regular season showcase vs. New Castle at Bankers Life Dec. 8, MV coach Steve Lynch took up a collection and stuffed a few bucks in a certain nook of the Fieldhouse. The thought was, the Marauders would return to claim their cash from the hidden location three months later after grabbing sectional, regional and semistate titles.
Instead, Saturday’s semistate booty belonged to the Pirates, who not only shot the ball well — they knocked down four of their first seven 3-point attempts on the way to an 18-7 lead — but beat the generally older and usually more physical Marauders by a 35-21 rebounding margin.
“Defense is what won it for us,” said Greensburg coach Stacy Meyer, who guided the program to its first state finals appearance. “When we knocked down some early shots, I think it tightened up our defense even more.
“I thought we rebounded well. I thought we did a pretty good job on (CJ) Coleman and (Stephen) Turner. And Turner getting in foul trouble for them was huge.”
Despite a paltry first half offensively — MV’s Turner made 3-of-4 field goal attempts and the rest of the team went 2-of-12 — the Marauders weren’t completely buried, trailing 23-15 at the break.
This was a Mt. Vernon squad that outscored its last three opponents — Frankfort and Danville in the regional and Arlington in the sectional championship — by a combined 117-64 in the second half.
Turner, though, picked up two offensive fouls in the first 90 seconds of the second half, giving him four total fouls, and MV’s only consistent shooter of the day was forced to the bench.
Immediately after Turner took a seat, the Pirates’ Bryan McIntosh knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers to give Greensburg a 31-15 advantage, and everything else was academic.
Turner, a senior forward who finished with a team-high 14 points, acknowledged that even if he had been able to avoid foul trouble, the Pirates would have been nearly impossible to beat Saturday.
“They came out to hit two 3s to start the game, and they never looked back after that,” he said.
“I’ve really got to hand it to them, they were about the only team that could shoot against our zone this year. It’s tough, when a team is shooting that percentage. And we weren’t able to put together a stop and a score in any consecutive possessions.”
Greensburg shot 50 percent from the field (9-of-18) overall and 50 percent from behind the 3-point line (5-of-10) in the first half and finished at 59 and 47 percent, respectively.
Juniors Sellers (20 points), McIntosh (14 points) and Collin Rigney (11 points) and sophomore Ryan Welage (12 points) led a balanced Pirates effort.
McIntosh was scoreless at halftime, an indication of the lengths a team has to go to shut down the entire Greensburg shooting contingent, Lynch said.
“They don’t have a guy on the floor that you don’t have to account for,” the MV seventh-year coach commented. “So when Sellers makes one and (Rigney) makes one and (Macy Holdsworth) makes one … it never ends.
“One of their best players on the floor (McIntosh) didn’t score in the first half, and yet they were still able to shoot the ball like that.”
Holdsworth, one of four junior starters for the Pirates, hit a 3-pointer to give the buccaneers their largest first half lead at 21-8, and he finished with five points.
Mt. Vernon, however, had few offensive contributors. In fact, only three Marauders made a basket all day: Turner, Coleman (11 points) and Anthony Burnett (10 points). The scoring drought was reminiscent of the Marauders’’ lone regular season loss, 52-51 to New Palestine on Feb. 15. Only three Mt. Vernon players made field goals in that one, as well.
“I thought we weren’t very efficient,” Lynch said. “I thought the score at halftime … holding them to 23 points, we were in good shape. We just couldn’t get it going offensively.
“You have to give them some credit for our offensive struggles. At the same time, I thought we got some shots we usually stick that we didn’t. And in a game like that, you’ve got to make some shots.”
For the majority of missed shots — via either team — Greensburg was there to corral the basketball. Led by the six-foot-7 Sellers (13 rebounds) and 6-8 Welage (nine rebounds), the Pirates controlled the glass, grabbing a 22-13 rebounding edge in the second half, fueling the key 22-7 third-quarter blitz.
Although taller at a few positions, Greensburg was thinner than its muscular MV counterparts. The Pirates won the rebounding battle with hustle.
“About midway through the third quarter (Greensburg) put a little run on and I was disappointed with how we responded,” Lynch said. “But, over 26 ballgames, it’s hard to be disappointed in this club.
“Except for that one little stretch, I thought our kids continued to fight and did things we asked them to do, and we just couldn’t overcome it. The better team won today. They played great.”
The Marauders showed minimal emotion postgame, confident to keep their heads up after a record-breaking season. MV set a new program standard for wins in a season while capturing Hancock County Tourney and sectional championships and the team’s third-ever regional title.
“We wanted to win state,” Turner said. “Not going to happen now, but I think looking back on it in a couple weeks, we’ll realize that we had a great year and everybody kind of maximized what they could do. Everybody got better as they year went on, and we just really played together.
“Nobody looked out for themselves. It was all a collective effort to do what we wanted to do as a team. That’s what I liked the most, how we were so close as a team. It was really special.”
As for the money that still (likely) resides in a spot at Bankers Life Fieldhouse that Lynch and his players haven’t revealed, they haven’t given up hope of a recovery operation.
“Secret treasure,” Lynch said. “There for our next trip.”
Notes: Linton-Stockton beat Speedway 76-75 in overtime in the 2A semistate game that preceded the MV-Greensburg game at Richmond Saturday. … Richmond’s Tiernan Center, with an 8,100-person capacity, was nearly full. … Turner, who is undecided on a college choice, was named a Top 100 Senior by Hoosier Basketball Magazine Monday. … McIntosh had nine assists for the Pirates. … Turner and Zach Spears led MV with five rebounds each.
103rd Annual IHSAA Boys Basketball State Finals, Sat., Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis
Class A —Triton (20-5) vs. Borden (23-3), 10:30 a.m.
Class 2A — Bowman Academy (17-9) vs. Linton-Stockton (24-3), 12:45 p.m.
Class 3A — Fort Wayne Concordia (23-4) vs. Greensburg (25-1), 6 p.m.
Class 4A — Carmel (24-2) vs. Indianapolis Cathedral (25-5), 8:15 p.m.
Carmel 66, Merrillville 36
Cathedral 74, Jeffersonville 53
Fort Wayne Concordia 68, Andrean 63, OT
Greensburg 62, Mt. Vernon 37
Bowman Academy 67, Tipton 64
Linton-Stockton 76, Speedway 75, OT
Triton 40, Lafayette Central Catholic 32
Borden 47, University 44