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INDIANAPOLIS — With one championship rematch, three public vs. private school affairs and a team fighting for its life on a basketball court and in a court of law, the 105th annual IHSAA Boys Basketball State Finals on Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse provided for an intense day of games. And that’s not even taking into account the record-tying 4A game.
Going to ove
In the 4A championship, No. 2 Evansville Reitz squared off against No. 4 Homestead. Both schools dominated the Evansville and Ft. Wayne areas of the state, respectively, throughout the regular season and had vanquished many central Indiana teams on their way to the title game.
Even though both schools were relative newcomers to this stage — Reitz hadn’t been in a title game since 1951, and Homestead had never appeared — they put on a show for the ages.
Homestead took home the title 91-90 in overtime, but for much of the second half, it seemed as if it were resigned to defeat. With 5:30 left in the fourth quarter, Reitz senior and Toledo recruit Jaelan Sanford hit two free throws to give his team a 64-54 lead.
This lead was built after the game entered the third quarter tied at 54-54 due to the breakneck pace and pressure that had served Reitz all season.
Reitz coach Michael Adams mentioned after the game that his team played the game at its pace but didn’t finish.
After taking the 10-point lead, the Panthers (29-1) slowed down their tempo, and the Spartans (28-2) stayed within striking distance. Homestead used a frantic full-court press in the final minute to send the game to overtime.
“We had to do something,” Homestead coach Chris Johnson said.
Down six points with 1:21 remaining, Homestead used two free throws by Mr. Basketball candidate and major college recruit Caleb Swanigan (who finished with 20 points, 14 rebounds and six assists) and two steals and layups by junior guard Tahj Curry to send the game to overtime for the first time since class basketball began.
Reitz scored the first two points of overtime, but Homestead followed with a 9-0 run to take control.
Reitz kept it close by making three 3-pointers in the period, but it was not enough.
The final score of 91-90 tied for the highest-scoring championship game in the history of the state finals.
Griffith ends as runner up
In a Class 3A title matchup that received plenty of attention in the lead-up, Guerin Catholic defeated Griffith 62-56 behind 29 points and 14 rebounds from senior forward and Lehigh recruit Matt Holba. Guerin Catholic may have won the game, but all attention afterwards was on the saga of Griffith and the IHSAA.
On Feb. 7, the IHSAA banned Griffith and Hammond from participating in any games, including the tournament, for the remainder of the season after the two schools faced off in a bench-clearing brawl.
However, a judge reinstated Griffith and Hammond just before sectional play.
Griffith, somewhat improbably, won six straight games to reach the state finals, even as IHSAA Commissioner Bobby Cox appealed the decision and would not commit to whether or not he would strip Griffith of the title if the IHSAA wins the appeal, which has not yet been heard.
Griffith and Guerin Catholic played an inspired game behind two very strong supporting sections, but Griffith fell just a bit short.
After the game, Griffith’s collective heads remained high. Griffith coach Gary Hayes recalled how the town of Griffith had sent them off to Indianapolis on Friday.
“It’s amazing how you don’t really know until something like that happens how many people are always watching,” he said.
Griffith returns talented twins Anthony and Tremell Murphy next year, and only 11 points from Saturday’s total of 56 are graduating this year, so they intend to do all they can to get back.
Anthony Murphy said afterwards, “If we could make it this year, I don’t see why we can’t next year.”
Guerin Catholic won’t be in their way again, as Guerin will be moving to 4A following this year’s state title and last season’s regional title (equaling the new classification-triggering six points), but a new and potentially stronger Class 3A challenge may await in Park Tudor.
Park Tudor dynasty grows
In the Class 2A championship, Park Tudor earned its fourth championship in five years after easily defeating first-time state finals participant Frankton, 73-46, behind 31 points, six rebounds and six assists from Western Michigan recruit Bryce Moore.
With former Park Tudor stars Yogi Ferrell and Trevon Bluiett in attendance, Park Tudor senior Evan Frank scored nine quick points to lead his team to a quick 11-2 lead, and the Panthers never looked back.
Frankton made a run at the beginning of the third quarter to cut the lead to 35-29, but Frankton coach Brent Brobson later commented that the effort used to get back into the game used up too much energy.
Despite a valiant effort from undersized (in comparison to Park Tudor’s players) senior point guard Austin Compton (22 points, 7 rebounds), Frankton was never able to get any closer.
Back when Park Tudor was in Greenfield to play the regional, Crispus Attucks coach Phil Washington said before the two teams met in the regional final that, “We feel the winner of this game will win the State Championship.” He was right. Park Tudor overwhelmed its final two opponents in the semistate and State Finals.
When looking back on the school’s run during the past five years, Park Tudor coach Kyle Cox indicated that he was proud of the school’s relatively new basketball family and that even though he is losing a talented group of seniors, “I expect these [returning] guys to carry it on.”
After four 2A championships, Park Tudor will be moving up to Class 3A for the next two seasons per the IHSAA’s Tournament Success Factor, and with two sophomores in Jaren Jackson Jr. and Kobe Webster who already are drawing interest from Division I programs, we just might see tiny Park Tudor in Class 4A for the start of the 2017-18 season.
leads to crown
Class 2A may be losing Park Tudor, but it is gaining two very talented 1A programs who faced off Saturday in a title-game rematch of 2014’s championship game: Barr-Reeve and Marquette Catholic.
Marquette Catholic won in overtime in 2014, but Barr-Reeve easily won this year’s battle, 65-50. Senior Duncan Roy and sophomore Seth Swartzentruber lead Barr-Reeve with 17 and 16 points respectively.
The bigger story though, may have been the defensive clinic put on Marquette Catholic’s star player and Providence recruit, Ryan Fazekas.
In the 2014 game, Fazekas scored 34 points to lead his team to victory. On Saturday though, Barr-Reeve held Fazekas to just five first half points, and his 13 second half points were too little, too late for the Blazers.
The victory was so thorough, that Marquette Catholic coach opined after the game, “You know, we are a Catholic school, and therefore we are faithful people … Maybe it was just (Barr-Reeve’s) time.”
Both schools will be heading to Class 2A next year under the IHSAA’s Tournament Success Factor, meaning next year’s 1A tournament should be considered a wide open affair.
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IHSAA boys basketball state championship results. Saturday, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis.
Barr-Reeve 65, Marquette Catholic 50
* Final Records: Barr-Reeve (27-2), Marquette Catholic (24-7).
* Barr-Reeve captures first state championship after four runner-up finishes.
* Barr-Reeve’s Ethan Duncheon named Trester Mental Attitude Award recipient.
Park Tudor 73, Frankton 46
* Final Records: Park Tudor (26-2), Frankton (26-3).
* Park Tudor wins fourth state title in five seasons.
* Frankton twins Cameron & Connor Bates named co-Trester Award winners.
Guerin Catholic 62, Griffith 56
* Final Records: Guerin Catholic (22-8), Griffith (19-11).
* Guerin Catholic captures second title in four seasons.
* Guerin’s Matt Labus presented Trester Mental Attitude Award.
Homestead 91, Evansville Reitz 90, overtime
* Final Records: Homestead (29-2), Evansville Reitz (29-2).
* Homestead rallies late, wins first state championship in OT.
* Homestead’s Dana Batt named Trester Award recipient.